Companies begin introducing vaccine mandates rather than offering incentives

Remember the beginning of the vaccine roll-out? People were grabbing their free post-vaccination donuts and others were being given $100 just because they’d gone out and gotten the vaccine.

Download the FOX 5 DC News App for Local Breaking News and Weather

"They said choose whichever one you want," Susan Meehan told Fox 5 while standing outside of a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts location back in March.

Those days may now be behind us, with business leaders who are seeking to encourage employee vaccinations increasingly moving away from the proverbial carrot and turning to the stick instead.

Delta Airlines announced Wednesday that unvaccinated employees would have to pay an additional $200 a month to stay on the company health care plan. Meanwhile, other major companies, like CVS and Disney, have said some employees can either get the vaccine or not have jobs at all.

So, is one approach likely to work better than the other?

"One of the most basic findings in the psychology of decision making is that we respond a lot more to the potential of a loss or cost, and it’s very motivating to avoid it," explained Rick Larrick, a professor of management at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and also a psychologist who studies decision making.

Larrick said that it’s tough to say which approach will lead to better results in terms of vaccination numbers specifically, but added, "I think at this point the stick at the individual level for the people who haven’t kind of gone for the vaccine under kind of gentler encouragement, I think this way of focusing their attention on what it means to the company and other employees is an effective way to do it."