Should Employers Make the Unvaccinated Pay?

Delta Air Lines starts the bidding with a $200-a-month health insurance surcharge.

Good morning!

Here are today’s highlights:

  • The Great Resignation is not letting up.

  • There’s a better way to measure customer sentiment than sending out surveys.

  • “Inside, I’m usually a mess”: Responding to our latest podcast episode, an entrepreneur talks about mental health.

HUMAN RESOURCES

Delta Air Lines, which is self-insured, will charge unvaccinated employees a $200-a-month surcharge for health insurance: “The moves reflect a new front in companies’ efforts to keep employees safe and working. Until now, many employers had used incentives, such as cash bonuses, to motivate workers to get vaccinated, or have mandated vaccinations. Delta’s approach instead focuses on the financial burden of Covid-19 and aims to transfer it to those resisting vaccination. Studies show vaccination greatly reduces the risk of severe disease or death from the disease.”

  • “The $200 monthly charge for unvaccinated workers enrolled in Delta’s healthcare plan ‘will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company,’ Delta Chief Executive Ed Bastian wrote to employees Wednesday.”

  • “For Delta, the potential costs of hospitalizations, weekly testing and other costs for unvaccinated workers could far exceed the $200 monthly charge those employees will have to pay, said Dr. Henry Ting, Delta’s chief health officer.”

  • “Executives from Delta’s human resources, health and legal teams worked to come up with a price tag that would help drive home to ambivalent or hesitant workers the costs to the entire company, and nudge some of them to get vaccinated.”

  • “​​After Delta announced its new policy Wednesday, the number of employees receiving their first Covid-19 shot tripled compared with the typical daily rate, he said.” READ MORE

The Great Resignation is not letting up with more than half of those in the workforce expecting to look for a new job: “There are multiple reasons why Americans are looking to find new work, with flexible working conditions top of mind for job seekers, according to the survey. Some 56 percent of those surveyed said that flexibility was their primary reason to look for a new job, topping higher pay and job security. This trend was the same even for the lowest-paid workers — 52 percent of those making $30,000 or less still put flexibility as their top reason to look for a new job, over higher pay. Other surveys have shown similar results. Nearly 40 percent of consumers surveyed by Ally Bank in August said they’re considering changing jobs in the next six months, citing remote work, career advancement and flexibility as top desires.” READ MORE

Will beehives and garden plots bring office workers back to the office? “Office workers who were sent home during pandemic lockdowns often sought refuge in nature, tending to houseplants, setting up bird feeders and sitting outdoors with their laptops. Now, as companies try to coax skittish employees back to the office and building owners compete for tenants when vacancy rates are soaring, many have hit on the idea of making the office world feel more like the natural world.”

  • “Following the latest trend in office perks, Nuveen hired a beekeeper to teach tenants about their tiny new neighbors and harvest honey for them to take home.”

  • “One upcoming project in Texas will include a bird blind, allowing workers to peek out at other winged creatures.”

  • “Two weeks ago, office buildings in 10 major metropolitan areas were 32 percent occupied, down slightly from the week before, according to Kastle Systems, a security company.” READ MORE

OPPORTUNITIES

More smartphone apps are adding features that let users display their vaccination status—and search for businesses that favor vaccines: “Vacation-home rental company Vrbo, part of Expedia Group, this fall plans to enable hosts on its platform to share their requirements for renters to be vaccinated against, or tested for, Covid-19. And OpenTable, whose dining-reservation service already lets restaurants display Covid-19 vaccine requirements, this month added a ‘verified for entry’ tag that patrons can get by showing proof of vaccination, for example, to any participating restaurant. Starting next month, OpenTable will also let users get the tag by obtaining a digital vaccine card from Clear, a platform operated by Secure Identity LLC.”

  • “Some of the new features cater to users who want to avoid close contact with unvaccinated people, while others are designed to help individuals follow local governments’ new vaccine requirements ...”

  • “Cities such as New York and San Francisco, for example, now require proof of vaccination for indoor activities.”

  • “Many of the features rely on people to self-report their vaccination statuses, however, leaving room for users to misrepresent themselves, designers said.” READ MORE

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Gene Marks thinks there’s a better way to measure customer sentiment than sending out surveys few will take: “Don’t know what sentiment analysis is? You’re not alone. Most of my CRM clients scratch their heads when I ask them about it. However, I expect to see many smaller companies waking up to the advantages of measuring sentiment as these tools become more widely used and affordable. That’s because sentiment analysis capability has already been offered by third-party providers like Lexalytics, Talkwalker, and Repustate for a few years, and a growing number of mainstream CRM platforms like SugarCRM, Salesforce, Dynamics 365 and HubSpot are joining in. Why? Because by using voice and AI, these tools can extract data from all customer conversations – calls, emails, chats – and analyze it behind the scenes to determine a customer’s ‘sentiment.’”

  • “Is this customer happy? Frustrated? Are they in a good place with your company or about to bail?”

  • “Knowing a customer’s disposition goes a long way to identifying potential problems and then coming back with proactive solutions before it’s too late.” READ MORE

COMPETITION

Big box stores do more damage than many realize, including reducing the value of downtown and other commercial buildings. READ THE TWITTER THREAD

ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Women are tired of hearing about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos: “A generation of female entrepreneurs — particularly those in life sciences, biotechnology and health care — is still operating in the shadow of Ms. Holmes. Though Theranos shut down in 2018, Ms. Holmes continues to loom large across the start-up world because of the audacity of her story, which has permeated popular culture and left behind a seemingly indelible image of how female founders can push boundaries.”

  • “‘There was already a higher bar before Theranos because we don’t fit the pattern,’ said Falon Fatemi, who co-founded Node, an artificial intelligence start-up, and Fireside, a media distribution start-up. ‘This just makes it that much harder.’”

  • “Julia Cheek, founder of Everly Health, which provides at-home health tests through its subsidiary, Everlywell, said at a conference in 2019 that comparisons to Ms. Holmes were so frequent that colleagues and advisers even suggested she dye her hair so that the connections would stop” READ MORE

MARKETING

Shopify’s deal with TikTok could represent a new social era in ecommerce: “Social channels are the fastest growing source of sales and marketing for Shopify merchants, [Shopify director Amir] Kabbara said. Merchant installs (a seller setting up a Facebook or TikTok storefront, say, or onboarding with the Google Merchant Center) increased by 76 percent in the U.S. this year. Sales on those social channels are up 270 percent. Plugging into social media can collapse the shopper funnel for merchants. For one thing, they don’t need to send traffic from Facebook, Twitter or YouTube to their own sites to make a sale. More than half of consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 discover products on social media, Kabbara said. And 28 percent have purchased from social media. Both those numbers are moving up.”

  • “Merchants previously approached social media as a vehicle to engage with customers and create a community of fans, he said.”

  • “‘Now merchants are embracing not just the connection, but are also there for the commerce.’” READ MORE

THE 21 HATS PODCAST

Our latest episode brought the following response from an entrepreneur who prefers to remain anonymous: “Wow, that was quite an episode. And for me, deeply relatable. I've struggled with mental health and addiction issues for all of my adult life. They've almost taken me down several times in recent years. Partly due to the pandemic, and partly due to a prescription that made me unstable. I feel a lot of shame about ‘all of my issues’ and share only with close friends and family. People outside of that circle see me as strong and accomplished, because that's what I work hard to project. Inside, I'm usually a mess.

“Laura was brave to reveal her mental health issues. Her authentic sharing will help listeners who are silently suffering. There are many of us. You likely saw this article in Forbes a few years ago. Entrepreneurs are: 2X more likely to suffer from depression, 6X more likely to suffer from ADHD, 3X more likely to suffer from substance abuse, 10X more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder. The only good thing I can say about my bipolar disorder is that some of my best ideas came during hypomanic/manic phases. In fact, I'm not sure I would be an entrepreneur if it weren't for the mania, which makes me creative, inspired, and more likely to take risks. 

“I want to hug Laura and encourage her to be open to therapy and medicine, which can provide huge relief if you find the right doctors. I hope she knows that showing her vulnerability helps fellow entrepreneurs.”

If you see a story that business owners should know about, hit reply and send me the link. If you got something out of this email, you can click the heart symbol, you can click the comment icon below, and you can share it with a friend. Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren