Engagement Trends COVID to Now: What’s Happened in Canadian Not-For-Profits and Beyond

Guest Author, Mallory Dunbar, Learning Specialist, Greatness Magnified

There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the way we live and work. With business disruptions, changing work environments, new roles and responsibilities, increased hours and demands, and decreased social interactions, we saw diverse engagement trends.

I joined Zak Rochon, Managing Partner at Metrics at Work based out of St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, to discuss how engagement trends have evolved from the start of the pandemic to now.

First…The Gratitude Effect

image of a woman smiling with her hands in the shape of a heart showing gratitudeWhen the pandemic began, we saw an outpouring of support and recognition for essential workers and frontline staff. People were being thanked by their supervisors, CEOs, patients, customers, clients and people on the streets. Everyone, it seemed, was saying thank you. The data reflected these trends. Engagement surveys saw an increase in recognition, a sense of belonging and the feeling that their organization cares about them.

Zak dubbed this “The Gratitude Effect.” Recognition was at an all-time high in many industries. Healthcare workers were applauded in the streets, and signs were going up on lawns. Frontline staff were being increasingly thanked, and the government introduced pandemic-pay wage increases. Despite the stress and chaos, employees still felt recognized and valued by their organizations.

And then…The Burnout Sandwich

image of a woman wearing blue scrubs, gloves and mask crouching against a wall showing burnoutAs the pandemic dragged on, organizational engagement levels slipped. Signs came down, employees were tired and overworked, and the gratitude shifted to resentment for many.

Engagement surveys saw a decline in trust in senior leadership, middle management was rated lower, and workload manageability, work-life balance, stress and burnout were all ranked at the bottom.

Employees were in what Zak calls “The Burnout Sandwich.” Burnout was impacting employees’ ability to maintain their physical well-being, the decline in workload manageability and work-life balance were impacting their ability to maintain their mental well-being, and declining trust in middle and senior leaders were all contributing to lower hope, satisfaction and resiliency.

Although more prevalent in healthcare, this trend can be seen across organizations, and despite the pandemic and its effects winding down, engagement trends have remained largely unchanged.

As we move into a new year, we can take the lessons learned from the pandemic and use these insights to implement new strategies to improve employee engagement in the new year.

Join us next week as we explore how, according to Zak and his juicy dataset, engagement can get a healthy boost in 2023. Watch the video if you cannot wait until then!

Can we help bring back “The Gratitude Effect” and combat “The Burnout Sandwich“? We have tools and ideas. Just hit reply, and we will find a way to help you.

Here are more ideas to help you show your gratitude:

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

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Organizational Development, Purolator Inc.

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Executive Director, Community Living Hamilton

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Director, The Center for People in Organizational Development, Sheridan College

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