3 Ways Resident Engagement is Shifting Toward Public Health



Globally, people experienced the magnitude of the pandemic in different ways, and it’s quite possible this isn’t the first blog you’ve read with a focus on changed attitudes post-pandemic. COVID-19 illuminated to the world that hybrid and remote working brings great benefits, requires new technologies that support the shift in work culture, and creates a greater appreciation for public health in general.

In 2020, Granicus asked residents nationally their preferences on interacting with local government services (trash and recycling, utility billing, public health, and more), with the aim to help public sector organizations make informed decisions toward resident engagement strategy. Fast forward two years later, Granicus repeated the same survey to see how resident preference may have, or have not, changed over the course of a couple of years. It’s reasonable to consider though that respondents’ answers in 2022 may be influenced by transformative ways of thinking brought about by the pandemic.

With that regard, Granicus created a list of three telling ways that public health has shifted resident preferences in communication with their local government. An understanding of shifts in resident preferences is paramount for the public sector to future-proof their organizations. Let’s jump into how public health may have influenced the channels that residents prefer to access with local government services:

1. Discovering the channels to prioritize for digital access

In the 2020 Granicus survey, 50.6% of respondents said their most-preferred way of interacting with local government was via in-person visits. Moving forward to 2022, the figure declined to 46.6% — so why the decline in preference toward in-person visits? Well, the pandemic created many obstacles for local government, like CDC guidelines and stay-at-home orders. The public sector (and private sector alike) had to accommodate these changes by expanding their digital infrastructure — providing remote ways of access (virtual public meetings, smartphone apps, platforms that support hybrid and remote city staff (Teams and Slack).

Man using smartphone

Additionally, nearly 66% of respondents cited smartphone apps among their top four preferred means of engaging with local government. When planning and scaling for the future, local governments must provide access to local government services on channels like smartphone apps to reach residents on their most preferred channels. This leads us to the next way that local government can plan for civic engagement with a foot toward public health:

2. Meeting residents where they’re at

When public sector organizations begin to strategize engagement for the future, it’s paramount to recognize the generational preferences of residents. Granicus’ survey revealed that younger generations tend to disagree with the statement “I can communicate with my government easily.” As surveyed respondents got older, they had a greater agreement with that same statement. “I can communicate with my government easily.” The result is not so surprising as local governments have years of experience serving older generations and pre-pandemic, in-person visits (one of older generations’ preferred channels) were more of the status quo for communicating with their government. On the other hand, younger generations like Millennials and Gen-Zers were raised with technology. These digital natives have higher expectations of communicating with their government digitally, and so the public sector must provide omnichannel access to services to reach the younger generations where they’re at.

Millennial using smartphone

Local government must prioritize access to services through digitally progressive channels like the smartphone app to serve younger generations, and consider that not providing access to services will create generational disparities and leave younger generations behind.

3. Future-proof resident engagement planning

A common theme post-pandemic is to form resident engagement strategies that can adapt to the future and accommodate unprecedented times. A more common example of how society is adapting towards future-proof modeling is the implementation of low-code/no-code platforms.  To retain and recruit savvy staff, public sector organizations must utilize technologies that automate workflows, require minimal tech training, and are cloud-based to support hybrid and remote positions. In fact, workers now won’t even consider most job positions unless hybrid or remote options are a possibility.

“As they [government] look to modernize their infrastructure in the post-pandemic world, governments around the globe are expected to increase their spending on IT tech, according to a new Gartner report that forecasts IT spending will hit $557.3 billion in 2022 – up 6.5 percent compared to this year.” — Unified Post

Though that may seem like a large number, investing in technology helps the public sector accelerate, modernize, and better serve residents.

When choosing technologies to future-proof an organization, these are a few questions to consider:

  • Does the technology have a proven track record?
  • Is the technology intuitive or user-friendly?
  • Does the technology create efficiencies for internal workflow?
  • Can the technology integrate with your organization’s existing tech stack?
  • Does the technology create transparency for the public?

Researching the technology your public sector organization will invest in will reduce costs and maximize outcomes for your organization.

Bottom Line: It’s essential for the public sector to take into account how public health has shifted the communication landscape, and strategize with an angle toward empowering public health to protect their organization.


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