Research Excerpt | Effects of The Pandemic on Employee Community Engagement

publication date: Oct 27, 2020
author/source: Volunteer Canada and Volunteer Ireland

The health, economic, and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for the public, private, and non-profit sector, as well as on the relationships between sectors. Volunteer Canada, in collaboration with Volunteer Ireland, sought to better understand how this global crisis has affected the field of employee community engagement and how best to support employees “giving back” as we move through the pandemic towards recovery. This snapshot of the employee community engagement lens of COVID-19 was drawn from the insights of business CSR leaders in Canada and Ireland between July and September 2020.

 New Directions and Goals

Prior to the pandemic, the priority goals for employee community engagement programs for both countries were: employee well-being; improving employee understanding of community issues; and employee team development. In Canada, improving brand reputation and recognition was also reported as a top priority. Since the pandemic, it emerged that employee well-being was the highest goal for employee community engagement initiatives according to businesses in both countries.

There was acknowledgement from companies about the important part employee health and well-being plays in retention of employees. The top two directives from senior leadership were to:

  • create virtual volunteering opportunities and
  • celebrate employee volunteer efforts internally


Highest Anticipated Challenges for Canada

  1. Health and safety concerns
  2. Not being able to support non-profits in the ways they need
  3. Re-engaging employees
  4. Lack of volunteer opportunities to match employee interest
  5. Making requests to employees in an unstable employment climate
  6. Keeping employees in virtual opportunities engaged

The relationship between corporate employee engagement programs and the charity sector has always been complex. Changing times make this relationship complex in new ways. Charities who have a clear vision of how to effectively use corporate volunteers have an enormous opportunity in this time.

This is an except from a full report. Download the full report here.

Volunteer Canada and Volunteer Ireland continue to work with businesses, non-profits, volunteers, and communities to strengthen corporate employee community engagement and to address the health, social, and economic impacts of the pandemic. Resources to support employee volunteering can be found here for Canada and here for Ireland.

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