Table of Contents
Employee engagement in 2022 took a hard hit with worldwide resignations, mass layoffs, and quiet quitting. In addition, the uptick in remote work created a new lack of connection. To really understand how employee engagement has been affected within the workplace, WorkTango partnered with HR.com to survey 275 HR professionals from all over the globe, representing almost every industry and business size. Here are some of our major findings.
The rise of “quiet quitting”
From the Big Quit to Quiet Quitting, the last few years have been a rocky ride — for employers and employees alike.
The Great Resignation (or “The Big Quit”) of 2021 saw 47 million employees leave their jobs in search of better opportunities. But the mass exodus stalled in 2022 as fears of economic uncertainty drove many to choose the stability of their current jobs over branching out to something new, or leaning in on engagement in their current workplace.
A new buzzword was born: “quiet quitting.”
It refers to employees doing the bare minimum to get by, but declining to go above and beyond. Many “quiet quitters” feel stuck in a role where their energy and passion are gone, but leaving isn’t an option. Mentally, they’ve basically already resigned.
Employers can plainly see the effect of low employee engagement on the bottom line, and getting ahead of employee unhappiness has become a top priority.
To help diagnose and then tackle low employee engagement, WorkTango partnered with HR.com on a research study and asked 275 HR professionals about employee engagement.
Nearly 3 out of 4 survey respondents agreed that employee engagement improves customer service, productivity, retention, and well-being, yet only 1 in 10 said that more than 80% of their organization is highly engaged. And about two-fifths of organizations reported that employee engagement levels today are lower than they were last year.
HR professionals know that employee engagement is vital, but it takes more than wishful thinking to make meaningful changes.
For employers, there’s no better time than now to work on better engaging their workforce. We began addressing data from our research study in a recent article, Why Employee Engagement Is on the Decline, And What To Do About It. There, we discussed some of the leading factors for employee disengagement and how employers can invest in employee success.
In this article, we’re taking it one step further and highlighting specific steps leaders should take to create a culture where conversations, feedback, and recognition are continuous.
But before we jump into solutions, let’s begin by understanding why many employers are struggling to create cultures that engage employees.
The missing link between engagement and performance
Engaged employees equal better performance. It’s not a mathematical equation; it’s a fact. And nearly every HR professional we surveyed (96%) agreed that there’s solid evidence linking engagement with employee performance and success. Yet, despite the clear connection, many organizations haven’t taken the proper steps to create an environment where people can flourish.
So where’s the missing link?
Leaders need to step up
We said it in our article on the decline of employee engagement and we’ll say it again: an engaged culture starts at the top.
Leaders that are serious about creating a culture of engagement must be willing to properly measure engagement — creating benchmarks, setting goals, and continuously providing feedback so employees thrive in their place of work.
Unfortunately, too few employers are taking these engagement best practices and putting them into action.
- 87% of survey respondents agree that there are reliable ways to measure employee engagement, but only 53% of them are actually taking steps to measure engagement.
Outdated methods of measurement still trump more reliable practices
For those who do measure employee engagement, the top three methods of measurement are:
- 64% exit interviews
- 58% annual surveys
- 53% retention rates
These results show us that many employers are likely using measurement as a reactionary tool, tying employee engagement to employee turnover. And while employee turnover can be linked to engagement, low engagement is certainly not the only reason employees leave.
It’s also important for employers to look beyond outdated methods of measurement, like annual surveys. Once-a-year reviews or a single engagement survey can feel uncomfortable and more like an interrogation than a welcomed chance to give feedback. Plus, once-a-year feedback is not a reasonable solution to here-and-now problems.
What are organizations doing with this data?
Despite the fact that some organizations are collecting data, many of them are stalling when it comes to taking appropriate action.
Here’s what we found:
- Only three-fifths of organizations share results at the department/division level with individual leaders
- Only two-fifths communicate all data from employee surveys to the entire organization
- Only about half take specific actions to improve engagement to a high/very high degree
Measurement is pointless if it doesn’t lead to new actions that lead to change.
To intervene in ways that matter, leaders should be trained on how to measure employee engagement, detect early warning signs of low engagement, and create fast solutions for addressing disengagement.
Learn from highly engaged organizations
We’ve addressed the areas where many less engaged organizations have gone wrong. Now, let’s take a look at how highly engaged organizations are knocking it out of the park when it comes to a more modern and strategic approach to surveys and continuous feedback.
Almost half of highly engaged organizations say a whopping 80% of their workforce is highly engaged.
That’s because highly engaged organizations are more likely to measure employee engagement and take appropriate action if red flags arise. In our survey, highly-engaged organizations rank their average employee engagement as an 8, 9, or 10 on a scale from 1 to 10.
Here’s what we know about highly engaged organizations compared to less engaged organizations:
- They measure employee engagement: 58% of highly engaged organizations measure employee engagement, compared to just 44% of less engaged organizations.
- They collect data more frequently: 56% of highly engaged organizations collect engagement data at least twice a year or quarterly, while only 39% of less engaged organizations do the same.
- They share data: 41% of highly engaged organizations share data in real-time with leaders, compared to only 28% of less engaged organizations.
- They take action based on their data: 77% of highly engaged organizations take specific action based on engagement data, versus just 33% of less engaged organizations.
- They encourage conversations: 66% of highly engaged organizations measure employee engagement through frequent one-on-ones with managers, versus only 40% of less engaged organizations.
- Leaders take responsibility: 84% of highly engaged organizations are more likely to place responsibility for improving employee engagement on immediate supervisors, compared to only 53% of less engaged organizations.
How to continuously measure employee engagement
We know that annual surveys and exit interviews simply don’t cut it.
So what will?
Companies should start by establishing frequent conversations and surveys, encouraging bi-directional feedback, and recognizing and rewarding employees for a job well done.
With an employee experience platform, all these pieces can work together seamlessly.
Let’s take a look at how this works:
Sixty-six percent of highly-engaged organizations use one-on-ones with managers as their top way to measure employee engagement.
What does this tell us? Continuous conversations, between employee and manager, are paramount.
In contrast with traditional performance reviews that feel cold and uncomfortable, regular conversations, goals, and check-ins ensure that employees are happy with their roles, their co-workers, and their managers.
When done well, employers can identify issues early and intervene with helpful solutions.
More than three-fourths of highly engaged organizations take specific actions based on engagement data. They are also 67% more likely to listen to employee feedback.
By empowering continuous conversations, relationships built on trust become an integral part of the organizations. This, in turn, drives a culture of positive feedback.
Continuous conversations ensure that feedback is timely and actionable. It allows leaders to mentor employees, suggest solutions in real-time, and encourage team members to constantly be improving.
However, feedback should never just be top down. Leaders need feedback just as much as their teams do.
A powerful way to solicit employee feedback and identify changes is with polling, pulse surveys, and benchmarks. Not only does this tend to improve engagement initiatives, but also communicates to employees that their voices matter.
Highly engaged organizations are almost three times as likely to recognize superior contributions compared to less engaged organizations.
Employers should be constantly working to give employees the tools they need to succeed. But don’t leave it at that. Employees also want — and need — to feel appreciated.
Recognition and rewards programs are a simple way to say “thank you” for a job well done. They highlight wellness, learning and professional development, and employee incentives — creating an employee experience that goes above and beyond. That encourages employee happiness and productivity.
A solution that encompasses all three parts
We’ve seen it happen over and over again: employees leaving — or mentally checking out from — organizations that place little value on well-being, empowered performance, and opportunities for growth.
However, our data shows that organizations that field frequent employee surveys, encourage regular conversations, identify gaps, and make constructive improvements based on feedback are the ones that have the highest engagement.
Ready to make a change?
WorkTango provides a powerful solution that offers actionable insights through employee surveys, supports alignment through goal setting and feedback, and enables meaningful recognition and rewards. When all three features are used simultaneously, employees thrive.