Top 10 Employee COVID-19 Concerns Every Leader Needs to Understand

5 min read
Apr 7, 2020

This research is co-published by Dr. Brooks Holtom of Georgetown University and TINYpulse.

The Coronavirus / COVID-19 impact is not evenly distributed geographically, and vital themes have emerged when reviewing the Top 10 Concerns of Employees when it comes to this pandemic.

We created the following playbook based on data collected from hundreds of employees across multiple geographies and industries for leaders as they captain their team through this crisis.


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1. Proactively address company impact and job security.

Overall, regardless of geography the top 2 themes are “Company Impact” at 20% and “Job Security” at 14% of all concerns. Together these combined for 34% of all responses. The research highlights it’s vital to be as transparent as possible about the impact to the company and their jobs. It’s definitely a balancing act for management, but avoiding the topic will not remove the overwhelming angst that is the reality of how your people are feeling. 

2. Highlight safety at work and productivity at home.

If you have people still going about their normal work routine, the #4 theme is “Not Catching at Work / Safety,” so  outline what precautions are already in place to keep them as safe as possible, and what other precautions you may layer on top of the existing ones (if possible). On the flip side, if you have employees working from home now, the number 5 concern is around “WFH (Work from Home) Productivity” so it makes sense to share tips and how the organization may be able to better support them in this new paradigm. This is especially true for US-based companies because their rate of concern for “WFH Productivity” is 333% higher than international counterparts (17.8% versus 4.1%).

3. Large companies need to focus on "Culture / Isolation."

For the new WFH population, employees are concerned about the impact to company culture and isolation. This concern was surfaced at 3x the rate compared to their smaller company counterparts, which may be because size at larger entities makes it more difficult to feel intimate and part of the social fabric versus smaller companies. 

4. All organizations need to address "Homeschooling / Child Care."

Shelter in place orders first started in the heavily affected regions of the Northeast and West Coast. With that order, not only are employees home, but so are the children with schools and child care centers shuttered. The level of concern for the regions with higher number of cases versus other lower number of cases regions in the US was 82% higher (5.9% versus 3.2%). This is certainly a challenging topic that will need to be acknowledged appropriately if your workforce is transitioning or has transitioned to working from home.

5. Be positive. Be positive. Be positive.

Surprisingly #3 was not a concern at all but a theme of “Gratitude / Positivity.” As leaders, we leave huge emotional wakes behind us, so we must continue to provide confidence of attitude, clarity of plan, and transparency of performance to help our people weather this crisis and emerge stronger and more resilient. Your tone has heightened impact and amplification during this period, so please remember to not forget to email, text, talk with a tone of gratitude and positivity. 



Top 10 Employee Concerns Over COVID-19

Not surprising, the number 1 concern was around the “Company Impact” at 20%, followed by “Job Security” at 14%. Since these two are closely related, if combined it would equate to 1/3 of overall concerns focused on the impact on the business and its ability to maintain employment due to COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Surprisingly, even though the questions were phrased around concerns, the #3 theme was “Gratitude / Positivity” with comments such as, “I am grateful for the open communication and for the actions taken by leadership to ensure employees are informed and productive during this difficult and unusual time.” It’s heartening to see employees and leaders rallying together to maintain a positive outlook during this crisis.    

4th most cited concern was “Not Catching at Work / Safety.” There were a multitude safety related concerns brought up to mitigate the potential of catching COVID-19 from the workplace. 

Larger company teams are 3x more concerned over company culture 

When analyzed via the lens of company size (determined by employee count), there is not much disparity in themes with a few exceptions. Employees at Large companies are 3x (6.4% versus 1.9%) more concerned about Coronavirus impact on their company culture and social isolation from their normal workplace. These employees at Large organizations are also much more concerned about their WFH Productivity than their smaller company peers.


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Learn what to do from the geographies at the forefront

The findings based on company headquarters location was the most interesting since the Coronavirus’ impact isn’t evenly distributed geographically. In the United States, states disproportionately impacted are currently located in the Northeast and West Coast. 

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Due to the rising number of cases, many of the cities and states in these regions have issued shelter in place orders, which greatly impact employees with children, who now have to be homeschooled or have to go without child care. This clearly shows up in the data as the regions in the US with higher number of cases registers Homeschooling / Child Care as a concern 5.9% of the time versus 3.2% of the time for regions with lower number of cases, which is a 82% higher level of concern.

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Employees based in the Southeast showed highest concerns about the state of the economy and world and their family well-being. They were also the most positive and grateful.  Finally, American workers were 333% more concerned about WFH productivity than their international counterparts at 17.8% versus 4.1%.

In summary, we truly are in unprecedented times, and there's overwhelming chatter on social media, blogs, and news sites about how leaders should confront this COVID-19 pandemic. Our hope is this data driven report from hundreds of respondents across industries and geographies reveals clear tactics and strategies to implement today:

  1. Proactively address company impact and job security

  2. Highlight safety at work and productivity at home

  3. Large companies need focus on “Culture /  Isolation”

  4. All organizations need to address “Homeschooling / Child Care”

  5. Be positive. Be positive. Be positive.

Whatever action you take, don't underestimate the leadership wake you'll leave as your team reads, ponders, and interprets all your emails, texts, videos. 

20 Brian Tracy Leadership Quotes For Inspiration


For more information, please contact or For more on the background of this research, click here.



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