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What do current employee engagement trends look like? And how prevalent are they in your own workforce? Here, we’ve assembled some of the most insightful data regarding employee engagement today, and discuss how making certain changes could positively impact your own organization.

What Employee Engagement Statistics Tell Us

Engagement refers to an employee’s level of commitment to their job, their employer and their organization’s mission. Employees demonstrate their engagement by how hard they work, how interested they are in innovating and problem-solving, their level of enthusiasm for their work and their investment in making positive contributions to their team and the organization.

Employee engagement is not the same as job satisfaction. An employee can be relatively satisfied with their job, but never propose ideas for improvement or challenge the status quo. They can be satisfied with their salary, benefits and job perks, and do only as much as they need to in order to keep them — but never strive for more.

Employee satisfaction doesn’t have much effect on an organization’s overall success. Engagement, on the other hand, has a direct impact on productivity, customer loyalty, company culture, industry standing and the ability to attract talent. Organizations with high levels of employee engagement have likely learned that engagement is no longer solely a Human Resources issue; it’s a metric informed by workplace culture and safety, the quality of employee and manager training, and the clarity of an organization’s internal communications.

In short, engagement is everyone’s responsibility, from the front lines to the corner office.

Employee Engagement By the Numbers

Not surprisingly, measuring employee engagement is not as straightforward as measuring, say, takt time or cycle time. Engagement data is instead gathered through employee surveys.

Gallup, Inc. is the leading source of workplace data and trends reports from around the world. To collect data on employee engagement, Gallup surveys random samples of workers across multiple industries, attempting to gain as broad a picture as possible of the state of workplace engagement. To date, Gallup has surveyed 2.7 million workers across more than 100,000 teams in over 50 industries, using their patented 12-question engagement survey, or the Q12.

In 2022, Gallup used the Q12 to survey 14,705 Americans working both full-time and part-time jobs on specific elements of their workplace that have an effect on overall organizational performance. The results* showed the following differences between companies with the highest and lowest levels of engagement:

Lowest Engagement Highest Engagement
81% more absenteeism 10% higher customer loyalty/engagement
18% more turnover
in companies with more than 40% annualized turnover
14% higher productivity
43% more turnover
in companies with 40% or less annualized turnover
18% more sales
28% more employee theft 23% higher profitability
64% more on-the-job accidents 66% greater reported employee wellbeing
58% more falls and fatalities 13% more organizational participation
41% more quality defects

*These figures are median percent differences across companies in Gallup’s database.

Engaged Employee Data

In early 2022, Gallup reported that 32% of full- and part-time employees attested to being engaged at work. This was higher than the global average, which hovers at around 20%. Gallup also found that employees who work from home or on a hybrid schedule had higher levels of engagement (37%) than those who work onsite (29%). Overall, answers from employees in the high-engagement group indicated distinct involvement in and enthusiasm about work.

Disengaged Employee Data

The percentage of actively disengaged employees has been creeping up over the past several years and now sits at 17%. In 2020, Gallup found that the ratio of engaged to disengaged employees was 2.6 engaged for every 1 disengaged; as of 2022, that gap had shrunk to 1.9 engaged for every 1 disengaged. The number one complaint contributing to disengagement? Poor communication.

Disengaged employees don’t just stay put. Of 25,000 workers surveyed by Joblist in 2021, 73% were actively thinking about quitting their jobs and looking for new ones. Besides the loss of skilled talent, employers stand to lose a lot from this statistic: U.S. employers spend $2.9M per day looking for replacement workers, or about 20% of one worker’s salary.

The recent decline in engagement is due in part to shifting attitudes about work during the COVID-19 pandemic. A company’s response to the pandemic became an indicator of how valuable they felt (or appeared to feel) their employees were; as 2020 progressed and the threat of mass resignation loomed, employee engagement and satisfaction became key concerns in workforce retention.

Many workers who retained their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic realized they could be much more productive at home than in the office, if given the choice. This trend had a markedly positive effect on overall engagement. If this option was not available — or if working conditions actively declined during the pandemic — many employees realized they could find better work experiences elsewhere, and quit in droves.

For example, Gallup saw engagement slide nine points among healthcare workers from early 2021 to early 2022. Stories of healthcare staff shortages and nurses’ strikes are well-publicized, with issues ranging from health and safety concerns to low wages to dangerously high patient loads. This may be an extreme example, but demonstrates that low engagement can indeed have serious consequences.

Factors That Impact Employee Engagement Data

Aside from COVID-19, there are some evergreen factors that have historically affected — and continue to affect — employee engagement across industries.

Whether or not they are formally surveyed, employees take the following into account when gauging their own investment in their jobs:

  • Clarity of expectations: Do I know what I’m meant to be doing at work?
  • Opportunities for development: Can I learn or develop a skill set at work?
  • Communication: Are there clear channels of communication between myself and my teammates, my manager and/or leadership?
  • Weight of opinions: Do my opinions matter, and are they heard?
  • Value-based recognition: Am I called out for my positive contributions?
  • Compelling missions: Am I motivated by my employer’s mission statement?
  • Trusted relationships: Do I trust my coworkers? My manager? The leadership team?
  • Health and safety: Do I feel safe at work? Does my employer take steps to protect my health?
  • Well-designed jobs: Is my role clearly defined, and do I deliver what the organization needs from me? Am I doing too much or too little in my role?
  • Flexible work schedules: Can I work from home or take time off when needed?
  • Ongoing training: Is training available to existing employees as well as new hires?
  • Strong company culture: Can I identify my company’s values? Do I support them?
  • Work/life balance: Do I feel obligated to take my work “home” with me when I don’t need to?
  • Interest: Am I interested in my work? Am I bored?
  • Fulfillment: Do I feel personally satisfied with my work? Am I proud of my work?

Of course, salary will always be a factor in job satisfaction and engagement (it’s unlikely an employee will complain about earning “too much”). The way employees answer questions like those above is the real indicator of employee tenure.

Challenges to Employee Engagement

Workplaces with low employee engagement consistently feature one or more of the following:

  • Not meeting employees’ expectations: Workers across industries have come to expect certain amenities besides a reasonable salary, including benefits, professional development opportunities and the ability to take time off when needed without repercussion. Workers also expect their employers to hold values that align with their own. Whatever their expectations, employees rely on their employers to follow through on their promises.
  • Poor management: According to Gallup, “Actively disengaged employees report miserable work experiences and are generally poorly managed.” Managers who rule with an iron fist — or who are disengaged themselves — can quickly erode employees’ desire to perform well.
  • Lack of WFH opportunities: As of spring 2022, 58% of Americans had an opportunity to work from home at least one day a week. For the 72% of white-collar workers who currently work from home, this is indicative of the fact that the office is not the best work environment for everyone. On the other hand, only 14% of blue-collar employees work from home, likely due to the nature of their work. Employees with little to no opportunity to work from home may experience a lower level of engagement and satisfaction.
  • Retention: Finding qualified candidates is difficult in every sector, but human resources platform Zenefits finds that 63.3% of companies say retaining employees is actually harder than hiring them. High turnover often has a negative effect on workplace morale, as well as a company’s industry standing and reputation.
  • Lack of recognition: A majority of employees say they would work harder if they were better appreciated. Receiving recognition for a job well done encourages employees to continue to meet and exceed expectations — without this drive, work can seem pointless.

How High Employee Engagement Benefits Your Company

An engaged workforce is one that wants to see their employer succeed. When a significant portion of your employees are consistently innovating, questioning processes and contributing to a positive workplace culture, the benefits reach far beyond the office.

The benefits of high engagement include:

  • More unified teams
  • Better interdepartmental communication
  • Improved productivity and performance
  • More internal innovation
  • Higher organizational growth potential
  • Higher employee retention and lower turnover
  • Better business outcomes
  • Better product quality
  • Operational resiliency
  • Higher volume of talented applicants
  • Significant cost savings
  • Improved workplace safety
  • Happier employees

This list is not exhaustive, since specific benefits will be unique to each organization and workplace.

Improve Your Employee Engagement Statistics

Improving your own employee engagement rate is not as straightforward as updating a process. In fact, it will likely take many small, incremental changes to multiple processes across your organization to begin raising engagement rates.

In the short term, managers and leadership can organically increase engagement by:

  • Defining and discussing explicit and implicit expectations
  • Asking employees what they need to do their jobs well
  • Giving frequent recognition for employees’ high performance and innovation
  • Advocating for employees’ constructive ideas
  • Asking employees what makes them feel valued on the job
  • Soliciting regular feedback
  • Updating processes to capitalize on employees’ skills
  • Finding new ways to make use of employees’ natural talents

In addition to these adjustments, your efforts to raise employee engagement should also manifest in a long term investment in your organization’s future. Consider implementing a training program that addresses and coaches both the practical and intangible aspects of your employees’ experience:

For the better part of a century, Training Within Industry (TWI) programs have been helping employees gain confidence in their skills and workplace performance without slowing productivity. To find out what TWI methods might look like in your organization, connect with the team at TWI Institute today.

What can we help your team achieve?