HRE’s number of the day: concerns about returning to work

Here’s how many employees say they’re worried about being exposed to COVID-19 at work—and what it means to HR leaders.
By: | June 16, 2020 • 2 min read


46: Percentage of U.S. workers who are concerned about being exposed to COVID-19 at work

According to a Gallup poll of employees conducted May 25-31, nearly half of workers say they are concerned—either very (13%) or moderately (33%)—about being exposed to the coronavirus at work. At the same time, 29% are not too concerned and 25% not at all concerned.

What it means to HR leaders

With employees worried about returning to the workplace in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, employers, and HR leaders in particular, should take extra precautions to avoid spreading the virus as they bring more workers to the office.

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HR leaders may want to stagger workdays and not mandate employees to return to their workplace immediately. A number of employers, including Twitter and Facebook, have said they will continue to embrace remote work options indefinitely. Others say they will be conscious of employees’ health concerns.

Meanwhile, employers should embrace a number of other precautions in the office, experts say. That includes safe practices and screening or technology that helps identify sick workers.

Related: Coronavirus resource spotlight: Alight’s return to the workplace app

The majority of workers (69%) surveyed by Gallup say there are new or more frequent cleaning procedures at work, while 58% say their employer is always providing personal protective equipment, such as masks, gloves or face shields. Just over half of employees say employers are enforcing a 6-foot distance between employees and customers or other employees, and 41% say their employers are screening employees for cough or fever.

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.