Workers endorse their employers’ pandemic performance: Study

77% of Canadians and 83% of Americans agree employer has managed COVID crisis well

Even after a year of unprecedented and continuing disruption to workplaces everywhere, both Canadian and U.S. employees give their employers strong marks for their management during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new North American study.

In the Argyle Public Relationships Index™, a Leger survey conducted for Argyle, a leading North American engagement, communication and reputation advisory firm,  77 percent of Canadians and 83 percent of Americans agree that “my employer has managed the COVID-19 crisis well,” compared with just 19 percent and 1 percent who disagree in the respective countries.

“Whether you’re confronting the complexities of a virtual workplace or the stressful safety protocols of a physical one, the pandemic has turned the working world upside down,” said Argyle CEO Daniel Tisch. “As employers and employees navigate and negotiate whatever comes next, they do so on a surprisingly strong foundation of respect and trust.”

Canadians endorse employers’ pandemic performance

IT, manufacturing sectors lead; construction, accommodation and food service lag in Canada

In Canada, workers in the information and communications technology sector give their employers the strongest vote of confidence for pandemic performance (95 percent agree), followed by manufacturing (89 percent), finance and insurance (83 percent), retail, wholesale and real estate (81 percent), and professional services (78 percent).

Employees in the health care and social assistance sector mirrored the national average, with 77 percent agreement. Lower scores came from workers in construction (64 percent), accommodation and food services (67 percent) and transportation and warehousing (69 percent).

“While we expected the tech, finance and professional services sectors to do well because of lower safety risks, the high satisfaction of manufacturing and retail workers shows that overcoming adversity together can often create a stronger bond,” said Dave Scholz Leger’s Executive Vice President.

Canada: Which industries managed COVID best?

Employee/employer relationships improve across the board

Using Argyle’s six research-tested dimensions of a healthy relationship, Canadians give their employers similar or slightly higher marks than when the survey was last conducted in March 2020, although most results are within the margin of error:

  • 72 percent are satisfied with their employer (27 percent strongly agree), the same as a year ago.
  • 71 precent agree their employer “takes care of people who work here” (28 percent strongly agree), up two percent from 2020.
  • 70 percent trust their employer (27 percent strongly), up two percent.
  • 65 percent agree their employer is “committed to meeting my expectations” (22 percent strongly agree), up two percent.
  • 61 percent agree their employer is “concerned about people like me” (24 percent strongly agree), down from 65 percent.
  • 44 percent believe they can influence their employer’s decisions or direction (12 percent strongly), up five percent.

“The weakest finding for employers is also their greatest opportunity: engaging employees about the future — and giving them some visible influence on the decisions you make today,” Tisch said. “While higher turnover is inevitable after such as stressful year, those who invest in these essential relationships will inevitably be better positioned for renewed growth.”

Americans have stronger relationships with employers

About the study

The Argyle Public Relationships Index™ is based on a survey of 934 employed Canadians and 548 employed Americans, completed between April 30-May 2, 2021, using Leger’s online panel. Leger’s online panel has approximately 400,000 members and a retention rate of 90%. No margin of error can be associated with a non-probability sample (i.e. a web panel in this case). For comparative purposes, though, a probability sample of 934 respondents would have a margin of error of +/- 3.2%, 19 times out of 20. A probability sample of 548 respondents would have a margin of error of +/- 4.2%, 19 times out of 20.

Public relations research suggests there are six dimensions of relationships between organizations and their internal or external publics: trust; satisfaction; perceived commitment to meet expectations; caring for those with whom you work or do business (“exchange relationship”); concern for people like me (“communal relationship”); and people’s perception of their ability to influence the organization. Argyle expresses its appreciation to Dr. Alex Sevigny of McMaster University for his counsel in the development of the model for this ongoing research.

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