Incentivizing vaccinations: What small businesses are doing and why

To convince employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine and return to the office as soon as possible, employers are providing incentives such as summer Fridays, stipends from Starbucks, a lucky drawing, paid time off and more.

by Kylie Ora Lobell
updated May 11, 2023 ·  3min read

All across the United States, people are getting their COVID-19 vaccines. And after meeting the goal of administering 200 million shots to Americans in the first 100 days of his presidency, President Biden said employers should provide paid time off to employees so they can get vaccinated.

Employers are listening—and some are even taking extra steps to ensure their employees are receiving their shots.

These are some of the incentives they're offering so that they can get back into the office and return to normal soon.

doctor holding business card

Time off

Lucas Travis, the founder of Inboard Skate, is following President Biden's directive and giving employees not only two days off when they get their vaccine but also an additional week of paid leave. Why? He wants to be part of the effort to achieve herd immunity in the U.S.

“We observed an increase in our employees getting vaccines the moment we introduced this incentive," he says. “Employees became more ecstatic to get doses too when we explained about the company's goal to help reach herd immunity, and why we think it's the best way to ensure everyone's safety in the workplace."

Rolf Bax, chief human resources officer at, is giving his employees the day off on the day they receive their vaccine as well as the day after. To persuade employees to take advantage of this, his company has created an internal resource that contains information from leading health organizations, epidemiologists, and virologists that dispels some of the myths surrounding vaccination.

“I know unequivocally that our decision to bombard people with easily digestible facts and information has had a positive effect on some of our more skeptical employees," he says.

Summer Fridays

Summer Fridays, a popular incentive that many companies offered pre-pandemic, will be given to vaccinated employees at Test Prep Insight this season, according to CEO John Ross. They will receive every Friday afternoon off through Labor Day, which means that when 1 p.m. on Friday rolls around, they can start their weekend early.

“For those that think they can dodge the vaccine but slip out early at 1 p.m. also, I will be watching them and holding them for a full day," says Ross. “We have productivity tracking software that helps me with this."

Free trips to the clinic

Inboard Skate is offering free trips to the vaccine clinic as well to make sure that employees are getting their shots.

“A free trip saves them time, as the company will also be responsible for bringing them home after getting vaccinated," says Travis.

Lucky drawings

Kevin Mercier, founder of the travel blog, is entering his employees into a drawing if they agree to get vaccinated.

“I set a date for a lucky draw in which the winner would receive a cash prize," he says. “In order to enter, applicants had to prove that they had been vaccinated."

Although Mercier acknowledges that it's legally acceptable to make vaccinations obligatory for workers, “that's often not good for morale or motivation, and other methods are preferable," he says. “I gave workers an educational session regarding the impact of COVID-19 and particularly stressed its effects on the health of loved ones. This proved to be effective, as those unwilling before were now keener on getting vaccinated."

A stipend for Starbucks

Along with summer Fridays, Ross is offering an additional perk: a $15 weekly Starbucks stipend for the rest of the year. “Once back in the office, we have a Starbucks directly across the street from our headquarters, and I am hoping I can bribe my employees with a coffee every day," he says.

According to Ross, his employees seem excited about both incentives he's presenting. Out of 10 employees, six are fully vaccinated and the other four have said they'll get their shots ASAP, which means they could fully return to the office by July 1.

“The sooner we get all of our people vaccinated, the sooner we can get back into the office," he says. “My team has not been as productive remotely as they were in the office pre-COVID, so I am itching to get people back. Secondly, the sooner everyone gets vaccinated the sooner life gets back to normal. I miss the real world of going out to dinner with friends, seeing older relatives and being able to shop without a mask. I want us to return to normal."

Get help managing your business. LEARN MORE
Kylie Ora Lobell

About the Author

Kylie Ora Lobell

Kylie Ora Lobell is a freelance copywriter, editor, marketer, and publicist. She has over 10 years of experience writing… Read more

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of the author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.