The state of employee engagement today in the workforce is enough to have HR execs wringing their hands—or more likely, furiously polling their organization to see how bad the problem really is with cold, hard metrics.
We’ve put together a useful infographic that dives into the facts and stats behind the current dismal rates of employee engagement. We also share some real-world ideas for turning the engagement ship around.
Pro Tip: If you need to make a business case for investing in employee engagement initiatives, here are the statistics and best practices that demonstrate the high value of an engaged workforce. Download our infographic and share it with your leadership team.
So, how bad is engagement, really?
Ouch. Just 13 percent of employees worldwide are engaged. Willis Towers Watson defines employee engagement as, “employees’ willingness and ability to contribute to company success. Put another way, engagement is the extent to which employees ‘go the extra mile’ and put discretionary effort into their work — contributing more of their energy, creativity and passion on the job.”
The ongoing employee engagement gap speaks volumes about our workplaces. But while we can debate why our colleagues are not engaged at work (see more on that, below), we can’t ignore the fact that people want to feel valued, accepted, connected and fulfilled at work.
When they don’t feel this, they have one foot out of the door.
- Nearly a third of employees (27 percent!) are high-retention-risk
- More than a third exceed performance expectations
- Retention risk drops dramatically after a decade of employment
- The higher the retention risk, the less engaged people are
And these employees are confident; they know their worth.
Engagement vs job satisfaction (it’s not the same thing)
In the topsy-turvy world of employment stats, satisfaction does not equal engagement. That’s why we can tell you 88 percent of U.S. employees are very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their job. Great!
Not-so-great: Only 32 percent of the same employees are engaged at work.
So, what’s happening here? Come a little closer and we’ll share an insider’s glimpse at what employee engagement looks like in real life.
A recent survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that respectful treatment of “employees at all levels” and “culture and connection” are the two highest drivers of overall job satisfaction.
Guess what? Satisfied employees can become engaged employees who bring value to your business.
The business impact of engagement
Of course, a lack of employee engagement costs organizations money. Lots of money.
Engagement can also reduce turnover, according to a Harvard Business Review report.
Over on the other side of the fence (where the grass is greener and employees are much more engaged), a nicer picture emerges.
These organizations have:
- 41% lower absenteeism
- 59% lower turnover
- 28% less shrinkage
- 70% fewer safety incidents
- 40% less defects
- 10% higher customer ratings
- 17% higher productivity
- 20% higher sales
- 21% higher profitability
How do you make things better?
First of all, it’s high time we all depend less on the moth-eaten annual survey. Many employees see them as a black hole where ideas slowly fade away. What we do know is this: employees want to feel appreciated at work.
Here are some great ways to put the engagement measuring stick down and actually improve it.
Neil Morrison, the HR director for Penguin Random House U.K., told Inc. that the human touch is always important when it comes to asking for employee feedback.
"Surveys are fine, but simply having actual conversations and asking employees 'What can we do better?' is much more valuable," Morrison said. "If employees can't sit down with their boss and talk about things, it doesn't matter how many anonymous surveys you run; you have a problem."
Look toward the future with some additional actions that will improve the health of your organization.
- Develop great leaders
- Train managers to coach employees
- Support career development
- Tap high-potential employees for succession
- Encourage upward feedback
- Recognize self-directed learning
Another way to increase employee engagement is to make sure to give feedback opportunities through an always-on feedback channel. It’s worth making changes to give employees what they need and want, like continuous coaching and real-time performance management. They want to become and thrive as high performers. And they want to understand what’s coming instead of looking back at what just happened.
We hope our newest infographic helps shed some light on the timely topic of employee engagement. You can download the infographic here.