Target joins growing number of employers incentivizing vaccines

Target is joining a growing list of employers turning to incentives to encourage workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

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The retail giant announced it is providing up to four hours of pay–two hours for each vaccine dose–to hourly employees when they get their vaccine. It also will provide all workers with free Lyft rides, up to $15 each way, to get to and from their appointments if they need it.

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“Taking care of our team has been at the heart of every decision we’ve made since the coronavirus started, and this point in the pandemic is no different,” Melissa Kremer, Target’s chief human resources officer, said in a company announcement Wednesday. “As more vaccines become available, especially for frontline and essential workers, we’ll help our team members across the country get the information and access they need.”

Although the employer is encouraging vaccination among its employees, Target said it does not plan to require vaccination for its employees.

Target’s statement is the latest in a string of recent employer announcements about their COVID-19 vaccine plans. They also are one of the most high-profile employers to make a move: Target has more than 350,000 part-time and full-time workers across the country who will be eligible for the incentive.

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Aldi, Dollar General and Trader Joe’s are all offering four hours of pay total for getting the two doses. Kroger, which has nearly 500,000 workers, said it will offer employees who get the vaccine a one-time payment of $100.

Experts say employers play a vital role in encouraging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to help drive up immunity and get society back to normal. “If we really are in this together, then the workplace is a perfect place to think about how we can get this vaccine into the hands, or arms, of all of our employees and everyone in the U.S.,” Ali Payne, organizational consultant at brokerage firm Holmes Murphy, said during a webinar last month.

Related: No. 1 way to urge workers to get COVID-19 vaccine? Education

Many organizations are expected to provide education to convince hesitant employees to get vaccinated, but incentives are a growing trend–and for good reason. A survey from Blackhawk Network, a payments provider, finds that although some 40% of workers are either unsure about getting the vaccine or do not plan to get it, certain incentives could boost vaccination rates. For as little as $100, one-third of employees would agree to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the survey of 1,105 employees finds.

“Incentives are powerful tools for driving desired behaviors, and the key for government agencies and businesses looking to increase vaccination rates and support public health will be ensuring they are offering incentives their target audiences find most valuable and attractive,” says Jeff Haughton, senior vice president of incentives, corporate development and strategy of Blackhawk Network.

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former 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.