Everyday Heroes come to the title reluctantly, not giving themselves as much credit as the public feels they deserve.

We’ve all seen the stories and images of the public showing their appreciation for the people who are putting themselves in harm’s way to keep our lives going…the grocers who stock the shelves, the warehouse workers who fill our online orders, the delivery men and women who drop off our food, wine, and household supplies. These Everyday Heroes know they are providing a service but may not realize how “essential” they truly are.

Three-fourths (76%) of the American public describe these Everyday Heroes as “patriots” for going out and doing their job each day, while only 6 in 10 (61%) of the heroes themselves describe their work as patriotic. More than half (57%) humbly say they are just doing their job, business as usual.

Moreover, nearly all Americans (92%) say these workers are truly making a difference in people’s lives during this time of crisis, while significantly fewer of the workers themselves (72%) feel they are having such a large impact.

For employers, there is a clear opportunity to bolster pride, share the thanks of a grateful nation and build connection to their workforce.


Many Everyday Heroes are feeling the love from the public, but not all the time.

Many in the public recognize these workers as heroes in their midst. Seven-in-ten (71%) Everyday Heroes say they feel appreciated for the work they are doing (and 93% of the public say they appreciate them). More importantly, many Americans are showing their appreciation. Two-thirds (62%) of Everyday Heroes say someone has specifically said or done something nice for them in the past month in relation to the job they do.

But with a country on edge, not everyone is feeling so appreciative. One in four (25%) of these heroes say someone has actively done something mean or hurtful to them in the past month in relation to the job they are doing, including yelling at them or making rude comments. Some have even gone as far as putting essential workers at risk, such as a New Jersey man claiming to have the coronavirus intentionally coughing on a grocery store worker. 

As the crisis continues to play out, it will be important for employers to increasingly ‘have the backs’ of their frontline staff. This potentially means arming mid-level managers with new skills.



This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll from April 6-7, 2020 among 530 “essential workers” who are not in healthcare or government. “Essential workers” are defined as individuals ages 18 and older who have been deemed essential by their employer and/or state and who must leave their home to go to work. Business areas include supermarkets/grocery stores, big box stores, restaurants/bars, transportation, gas stations, warehousing, manufacturing, construction, agriculture and food processing, among others. A separate online survey was conducted among a general public sample of 1,024 adults (ages 18 and older) during the same time period for a comparative viewpoint. These two online surveys are not based on probability samples and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Read the full report.


Wendy Salomon

Managing Director

Related Content