GenZ engagement trends — pre-COVID to now


With the University of Waterloo having the largest co-operative education program of its kind in the world, the Work-Learn Institute has access to the largest dataset of students to study. Every term, co-op students are asked to complete a survey about their work term, and these results give us insight into how the next generation of talent is experiencing remote work.

Over the past year, we have monitored how student’s workplace experiences have been impacted by COVID-19. We monitored five areas related to workplace engagement:

  • Opportunities to learn
  • Opportunities to make meaningful contribution
  • Appropriate compensation & benefits
  • Opportunities to expand professional network
  • Availability of employer support

While most of these indicators have remained relatively consistent over the past year, and some have even increased, there has been a noticeable decrease in how students are feeling about opportunities to expand their professional network (shown below).

opportunities to expand professional network graph

These results show us that students feel like there is less of an opportunity to meet people that they don’t work directly with.  Organizations can support early career talent by assigning mentors or creating a culture where there is an opportunity for meeting people across the organization that aren’t necessarily on the same team.

To learn more about how students are engaged at work during COVID-19,  listen to our recent podcast episode on HRD Talk.