Employee engagement is hard to define and even harder to measure.
But you know when it’s not there.
- 61% of American employees say they are burned out at work
- 33% of workers say boredom is the main reason they want to leave their jobs
- 33% of employees say they don’t trust their employers
- 75% of employees quit their job because of their boss
- Between $450-500 billion is lost annually because of low employee engagement
What Is Employee Engagement?
Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” breaks employee engagement into three categories.
- Engaged employees are passionate and connected to their work. Approximately 25 percent of employees in manufacturing say they are highly engaged.
- Non-engaged employees deliver minimal effort and produce barely satisfactory results.
- Disengaged employees are mentally “checked out.” They jeopardize productivity, profits, and workplace safety.
If an employee seems distracted at the office and/or hasn't contributed any new or fresh ideas in a while, they may have mentally checked out.
According to a report by Gallup, the single biggest indicator of job satisfaction is whether the workers have the tools they need to do their jobs perfectly.
Encouraging employees to keep their “head in the game” — and giving them the tools to succeed — is the job of every supervisor and business owner.
Are You “Into” Your Job?
As stated above, employee engagement is difficult to define. It’s about the emotional connection your employee has to his or her job and the enthusiasm they bring to it.
Employee recognition, office safety, and camaraderie among coworkers are key factors to employee engagement.
It’s important to note that employee engagement does not equal employee happiness.
You can have happy employees who are completely unstimulated by their work and are getting by with only minimal effort. Laziness isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s human nature.
You want employees enthusiastic about their job and striving to be better. Keeping employees interested in their jobs and attentive to industry changes is a difficult task for any employer.
- 36% of workers say they are enthusiastic about their jobs
- 53% say they are not engaged at work, compared to 70% in 2013
- 14% of employees say they are actively disengaged at work
Boredom and bad bosses are the main reasons employees disengage at the workplace and seek employment elsewhere.
The High Cost of Employee Disengagement
Bored, disinterested, spaced-out employees are bad for business … and your bottom line.
These employee engagement statistics show the toll of a disengaged workforce.
- Only 15% of employees say they feel engaged at work
- 81% of employees say they’d leave their job for the right offer
- It costs an average of $5,000 to hire a new employee
- Employee disengagement hit a low of 26% between 2000-2005
- Over the last two decades, an average of 17% of workers are actively disengaged
- US businesses spend $1.1 billion annually to replace employees
US employees engagement trend 2000 - 2018
When an employee loses interest in their job, productivity suffers and business owners lose money.
It’s estimated that a disengaged employee costs a business 34% of that employee’s salary in lost productivity due to missing work, showing up late, and spreading bad vibes about the workplace.
Lost productivity due to a lack of employee engagement is estimated to cost US businesses $450 billion to $550 billion each year.
Less than 40% of American workers in ten different industries or job functions feel engaged in their work.
Managers in charge of carrying out the wishes of senior executives are 16% less engaged. However, companies that have increased employee engagement to 6 in 10 employees realized an 11% increase in profits.
What Causes Employees To Disengage
Why have your employees mentally checked out? It may be one of the reasons below.
- One-third of employees say they don’t trust their employers and that boredom is the main reason they want to leave their jobs
- 47% of employees say they’d prefer a job with a thriving culture
- 95% of employees recognize when they’re becoming disengaged
Hiring new employees is hard. Keeping them is even harder.
A high turnover rate is often a sign that your employees are not engaged at work. Companies with high employee engagement have a 24-59 percent lower turnover rate.
Only 37% of engaged employees are looking for new job opportunities, while 73% of disengaged employees and 56% of not engaged employees are seeking new jobs.
More than a third of employees switched jobs within the last three years. Next year, 35% of employees will look for a new job.
How will you entice one-third of your workforce to stay?
Keeping employees engaged in their work is a major part of employee retention.
- 63.3% of companies say retaining employees is actually harder than hiring them
- 74% of employees say they would take a pay cut to take a new job with a thriving culture and growth potential
- Only 25% of businesses have an active engagement strategy for employees
- 37% of employees feel job recognition boosts their productivity
- 75% of employees quit their job because of their boss
- Companies with the highest employee engagement had a 59% reduction in employee turnover
- 96% of employees cite empathy as an important factor in employee retention
- Engaged workplaces generally have 67% less turnover
- The lack of career opportunities is the most common reason for employee turnover
Employee turnover and rehiring across different industries (Source: Zenefits)
Increasing Employee Engagement
Increasing employee engagement is tricky. Getting employees to open up isn’t easy.
Less than half of workers are comfortable speaking to their boss, especially if they have to talk in a private office.
Make Your Workplace Welcoming
Inspired by the employee engagement tactics that proved so successful for Facebook and Google, more than 70 percent of American workplaces have an open floor plan.
Workers who freely move about the workplace are 1.3x more engaged. Those with space to connect with coworkers are 1.5x more engaged.
Staff members that develop close relationships with coworkers report they are 50% happier.
While some staff love an open floor plan, privacy has its perks. 42% of workers said they would consider leaving their current job for a job with more privacy and 33% would leave for an office with a door.
Finding the right person for the job is difficult … and keeping them engaged at work is even harder!
The Benefits Of High Employee Engagement
Not only will your workplace be more pleasant, but it will also be more productive.
Organizations with highly engaged employees had 40% fewer quality control issues. Engaged employees had 48-70% fewer accidents.
There are a number of other benefits to employee engagement, like:
- Increases productivity
- Improves morale
- Reduces absenteeism
- Better customer service
These employee engagement statistics demonstrate the importance of good employee engagement:
- Businesses with a high level of employee engagement see a 21% increase in profits and 28% less shrinkage.
- Businesses with engaged employees experience 41% less absenteeism.
- Companies with high employee engagement had 89% greater customer satisfaction and 50% higher customer loyalty.
Good employee engagement makes good financial sense. Increasing the level of employee engagement at your workplace can increase profits by $2,400 per worker annually.
Companies with an engaged workforce experience a 20 percent increase in sales and a 17 percent boost in productivity compared to companies with disengaged employees.
These same companies also had a 41 percent lower rate of absenteeism and score 10 percent higher in customer satisfaction surveys.
A worker with high engagement will go the extra mile on the job … and for your customers!
How To Improve Employee Engagement
Comedian Chris Rock makes a keen observation about employee engagement.
When you have a career, there aren’t enough hours in the day to explore all the ideas you have and accomplish all the projects that interest you.
When you have a job, you can’t wait to punch out and go home.
Give your employees careers.
This means training and advancement. Salary increases. Hope for a future. A full 45 percent of employees believe career development opportunities are an important aspect of employee engagement.
This is the best way to encourage employee engagement — make growth and improvement part of the job and acknowledge the advances your employees have made.
Let your staff share in the company’s success. Everybody wants to be part of a winning team!
Employees who feel “heard” are almost 5 times more likely to perform better. But only 26% of professionals believe that feedback helps them accomplish "better work," and just 23% believe that feedback that they are receiving is "meaningful."
- Job security, on the other hand, plays an important role in the lives of American workers, more important than the wage increase
- 36% of job seekers cited “company’s employer brand” as their number one consideration in evaluating a potential new job
- 40 percent of U.S. employees strongly believe the purpose or mission of their company motivates them
- It's important to know how we're channeling our working spirit. Shorter workweeks (2 or 3 working days per week) are one way to boost morale
Focus on Individual Strengths
Want to engage your employees?
Focus on their individual strengths.
73% of employees who are allowed to use their strongest skills on the job are more likely to be engaged at work, compared to a paltry 9% of employees who are engaged but not tapping into their greatest strengths.
Employees who use their strengths daily are six times more engaged than their coworkers and, on average, 12.5% more productive!
Play to those individual strengths. Employees are 7.8% more productive when they use their natural skills.
Four in 10 employees believe a significant salary increase is “very important when considering a new job.
Additionally, 45% of millennials would change jobs if the new employer offered tuition reimbursement.
Unfortunately, only 20 percent of employees say they’ve talked about work goals with their manager in the last six months.
Engaged employees are more productive employees!
Employee Engagement and Remote Workers
Back in 2016, Gallup surveyed 15,000 workers about remote staffing.
43 percent of workers surveyed claimed that they spent some time in locations separate from coworkers.
This number was up from 39 percent in 2012. About 57% of employees working in IT fields were working remotely.
The number of employees who work full-time from home increased from 24% to 31% between 2002 and 2016. In 2017, 35% of the US workforce was contract-based employment.
In a post-COVID world, working remotely has increased significantly. As of May 2021, approximately 70% of white-collar employees are still working remotely.
Flextime and the ability to work remotely are major job incentives.
More than a half of U.S. employees would leave their current jobs for flexible hours, but only 44% of U.S. employers offer them.
37% of employees say they’d consider switching jobs if it meant they could work off-site at least part-time.
Keeping remote workers actively engaged in their jobs is a unique challenge for business owners.
However overall productivity numbers haven’t dipped with the increase of more at-home workers… in fact, some reports suggest that productivity increased during the lockdown.
The most engaged employees spent three to four days working remotely — a hybrid office/remote alternative.
Moreover, remote workers are more likely to feel engaged than their office working counterparts (41% vs. 30%).
Even before the pandemic, a 2017 Gallup poll showed that remote workers don’t feel remote from their job tasks.
60 to 80 percent of remote employees surveyed reported higher levels of employee engagement. Meanwhile, only one-third of office-bound employees in the United States reported being engaged at work, according to a 2016 Gallup survey.
The Bully Boss: Enforced Engagement
This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning fear as a motivating factor for keeping employees engaged.
We’ve all had jobs where the threat of firing was used as a motivational tool. Those jobs are the worst, toxic workplaces with overbearing bosses and stressed-out coworkers.
Employee engagement statistics show that American employees have little belief in their company’s leadership.
Only 22% of employees think their company has a clear direction for the future and only 15% are excited about their company’s leadership.
A scant 13% believe corporate leaders have good communication skills. Clearly, there’s room for improvement.
Trying to increase employee engagement through fear or intimidation doesn’t work… and -- depending on the severity -- might be illegal.
Bullying employees just erodes trust and doesn’t make anyone want to work harder. It only makes employees leave.
Almost any job they find will be better than the unpleasant sweatshop you’ve created.
Don’t try to encourage employee engagement by yelling at your staff. It only makes your employees hate their jobs … and you!
Harvard Business Review