How Engaged Are Employees During COVID-19?

June 24, 2020

Across Canada and the United States, many employees’ working arrangementsincluding how they interact with their organizationsemployers, and colleagues, have shifted rapidly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In early May 2020, Leger and the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) conducted a survey among Canadian and American employees (those who are not unemployed, furloughed, or laid off due to COVID-19) to explore: 

  • How various attributes (including their productivitycollaboration with coworkers, satisfaction with their company, etc.) have changed since COVID-19 
  • How well various company leaders and teams are communicating updates and information to them during COVID-19 
  • How often they are currently speaking to their direct supervisor/manager (via phone, video conference, or face-to-face) currently, compared to before COVID-19 


  • In both the U.S. and Canada, two-thirds of employees said their work productivity has stayed the same during COVID-19, while at least 1-in-5 experienced decreases and 1-in-10 experienced increases.  
  • Three-quarters of employees said their relationship with their company stayed the same during COVID-19. U.S. employees were more likely to experience slight increases in satisfaction, trust, and engagement with the company, while Canadian employees were more likely to experience decreases.  
  • About two-thirds of employees in both the U.S. and Canada said collaboration with co-workers stayed the same, while at least 1-in-5 said it decreased. 
  • U.S. employees (58%) were more likely to say their company was doing “very good” or “excellent” at communicating information and updates to them than Canadian employees (54%). U.S. employees (54%) were also more likely to say the same about their CEO than Canadian employees (45%). 



Overall, two-thirds (66%) of employees in both Canada and the U.S. said their work productivity has stayed the same during COVID-19. At least 1-in-5 workers said their productivity had decreased while around 1-in-10 said it had increased.  

Three-quarters of employees in both the U.S. and Canada said their relationship with their company had not changed with COVID-19. U.S. employees were more likely to report slight increases in satisfactiontrust, and engagement with the company, while Canadian employees reported greater decreases.  

About two-thirds of employees in both the U.S. and Canada said collaboration with co-workers had stayed the same, while at least 1-in-5 had said it decreased.  



In Canada, more than half (54%) of employees said their company was doing “very good” or “excellent” in terms of communicating information and updates to them during COVID-19. Employees at large companies (63%) were more likely to rate their employers better at communicating information and updates than employees at small (50%) and medium (52%) companies.  

In the U.S., more than half (58%) of the employees said their company was doing “very good” or “excellent” in terms of communicating information and updates to them during COVID-19. Similar to Canada, employees at large companies (71%) in the U.S. rated their employer better at communicating information and updates than small (62%) and medium (57%) companies. In the U.S., significantly more employees said their CEO, manager, and communication and HR department were doing well at communicating than in Canada. 


In both the U.S. and Canada, employees who typically communicated daily with their supervisors/manager before COVID-19 were communicating less frequently during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both countries saw declines of at least 20% in the amount of daily communication, with a 28% decrease in daily communication in Canada and 21% in the U.S. 


This online survey using computer-assisted web interviewing technology was conducted from May 8 to May 10, 2020, by Leger, through a random sample of 1,526 Canadians and 1,004 Americans. Using data from the most recent census, results were weighted according to gender, age, mother tongue, region, education level, and presence of children in the household to ensure a representative sample.  


On May 21, 2020, as part of our Communications in Times of Crisis webinar series, Dave Scholz, APR; Executive Vice-President, Leger hosted a webinar on Internal Communications During the Pandemic with special guest Tina McCorkindale, PhD; APR; President and CEO, Institute for Public Relations. 

In the webinar, Tina discussed what employers are doing to communicate with their employees during the pandemic, and what the best practices are for internal communications moving forward. Watch the recording of the webinar here.


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