By Ben Aston · originally published for People Managing People
The fact that 2020 has been a challenging year for many workers worldwide because of Covid-19 is well recognized. For instance, Tamaryn Nelson, a researcher at Amnesty International, produced an article that uses the words nightmares, exhaustion, and burnout when describing the pandemic’s emotional toll. But what does this mean for employee engagement?
To answer the questions, this article looks at employee engagement statistics that people managing people need to know in 2020. We believe that numbers don’t lie. From the statistics, managers can find ways of reacting to issues related to employee engagement.
Before we look at the 12 employee engagement statistics we have gathered for this article, we will define employee engagement, provide some reasons why employee engagement matters, and then briefly look at some factors impacting employee engagement.
What is Employee Engagement?
For both the organization and the employees to meet their respective goals, there has to be a relationship. This relationship can be described and understood through a concept called employee engagement. The goal is to answer a fundamental question: What is an engaged employee?
A comprehensive definition of employee engagement is provided by EngageForSuccess.com, a voluntary movement that promotes employee engagement. It describes employee engagement as “a workplace approach resulting in the right conditions for all members of an organization to give of their best each day, committed to their organization’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organizational success, with an enhanced sense of their own well-being.”
Writing for Forbes.com, Kevin Kruse, the author of the book Great Leaders Have No Rules, advises that employee engagement is not the same as employee happiness. Kruse argues that an employee can be happy and still not be productive. He also says that employee engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction because an employee can be satisfied and still fail to go the extra mile.
From the insights above, employee engagement can be defined as a situation where an employee is emotionally invested in their company. This means that the employee cares whether the company succeeds, will defend it when it is criticized and approaches their work with enthusiasm. This implies “the commitment your people have to the organization and its goals.”
How do you identify engagement in employees? Such an employee will perform beyond expectations. They exhibit high energy, work hard to maintain positive relationships with colleagues, and are happy to assist new employees in finding their feet. Engaged employees are willing to accept change, and offer solutions to challenges. They become the people that your company relies on.
Why Employee Engagement Matters
Employee engagement results in employees, who are more committed to their jobs, will do their best even when the manager is not watching, and are willing to go the extra mile. This is why Kruse proposes that “engaged employees lead to better business outcomes.”
The positive results of high employee engagement are supported by results from several other studies and surveys done by reputable organizations, such as the Harvard Business Review and the American analytics and advisory company Gallup.
The Harvard Business Review Analytic Services surveyed more than 500 business executives, and “71% of the respondents [ranked] employee engagement as very important to achieving overall business success.” This implies that businesses that have engaged employees are likely to have a competitive advantage. They are also more profitable.
Gallup’s study concluded that “the behaviours of highly engaged business units result in 21% greater profitability.” The same study says that when employees are engaged, they are less likely to leave. It says that “highly engaged business units achieve 59% less turnover” in high turnover organizations and “24% less turnover” in low turnover organizations.
Recruitment leaders support the view that engaged employees are more likely to stay in companies for longer and contribute to business success. It notes, “Employees who feel engaged are proven to not only be more productive and content in their job role, but they are also more loyal to the company and more driven to contribute to overall business success.”
It is also more likely that when employees are emotionally invested in a company’s success, they will provide the best service to the customer, have improved morale, and take fewer days off from work. This results in better sales, higher profit, and happier shareholders.
What Factors Impact Employee Engagement?
The views and statistics above prove the role of employee engagement, but what factors should organizations, who are seeking to boost employee engagement, look at? We identify a few below:
The culture of any organization affects how the employees interact with the organization. Thus an important question to ask about the organization is whether a culture of engagement exists. This involves looking at the policies regulating motivation, respect, and empowerment of employees.
Also, the organization needs to ensure that employees are clear about the organization’s goals, and the role they can play to ensure that these objectives are met.
Managers play a huge role in determining whether employees are committed to the organizations they work for or not. To have a positive role, managers need to exhibit the behaviours and skills that encourage employees to go the extra mile.
If the manager is not fit for the job, it will be challenging to create robust relationships essential for highly-engaged teams. Managers, who ensure that employees know what is required from them and provide the resources required, are likely to have engaged employees.
To encourage employee engagement, every organization needs to create processes that make the employee’s whole life cycle with the company as smooth as possible. For instance, employees are likely to be engaged when an organization has a seamless onboarding process.
Employees are likely to be enthusiastic if there are processes for sharing information, making resources available, and learning and development. These processes should also be clear about what is needed to progress through the company’s ranks.
Other important considerations include flexibility, particularly at this time of Covid-19. Apart from having initiatives for employee wellness, it is vital to ensure that talent is fairly compensated for their effort. People are likely to be less engaged if they believe that their organization is not recognizing their efforts.
Employee Engagement Statistics
It’s easy to make statements about employee engagement and how it is good for your organization, but what do the numbers say? We found 12 employee engagement statistics that we believe every manager should know in 2020:
1. As low as 15% of Employees Are Actively Engaged Globally
In its State of the Global Workplace report, Gallup concludes that “85% of employees are not actively engaged or [are] actively disengaged at work.” What this implies is that only 15% of employees are actively engaged.
Even though the Gallup report paints a grim picture, other organizations looking at engagement levels across the globe present higher rates of engagement. This could be due to the fact that some organizations see disengagement only as active disengagement.
For instance, in 2019, the Trends in Global Employee Engagement report from Kincentric, a provider of employee engagement solutions, states that 66% of employees are engaged. However, Kincentric only collects data from its clients.
2. Engagement Levels in the US Reached a Record High in 2019
Gallup reports that since it started reporting employee engagement, the highest percentage of engaged employees it has recorded in the US is 35%, in 2019.
Gallup attributes the rising levels of employee engagement in the US to an improved economy and employee benefits, even though these are not the primary drivers of employee engagement.
3. Latin America has the Highest Levels of Engagement
According to data collected by Kincentric from its clients from the second half of 2019 to the first quarter of 2020, the highest employee engagement levels are in Latin America, at 74%.
4. Employee Engagement by Region
For the rest of the world, the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region follows Latin America, at 72%. The Asia Pacific at 71%, North America at 72%, and Sub-Saharan Africa at 62%, follow.
Of course, it is important to read these numbers with care because the factors that impact employee engagement may differ depending on the region’s conditions and culture. However, these numbers provide an idea of the general trends in different parts of the world.
5. Europe has the Lowest Levels of Engagement
The New York Stock Exchange-listed global professional services firm, Aon Plc. analyzed more than “five million employees at more than 1,000 organizations around the world” in 2017. This analysis showed that Europe had the lowest levels of engagement globally, at 60%.
6. Rising Levels of Employee Engagement
Generally, when looked at from a historical perspective, the analysis by Aon shows that the percentage of engaged employees has been on the rise; from 59% in 2011 to 65% in 2017. By March 2020, Kincentric reports engagement levels of 68%.
7. Decreasing Levels of Actively Disengaged Employees
Gallup describes actively disengaged employees as “those who have miserable work experiences and spread their unhappiness to their colleagues.” From data collected from a random sample of 4,700 employees in the US, Gallup recorded the lowest percentage of actively disengaged employees in 2019, at 13%.
8. Top 3 Companies Leading in Employee Engagement
Great Place to Work, a company that assists businesses in becoming great places to work, presented 2019’s top companies in terms of engagement. The following are the top 3:
- Hilton: Employees believe the company invests in them and encourages a spirit of entrepreneurship.
- Salesforce: According to the company’s employees, the firm backs up its talk with action.
- Wegmans Food Markets Inc.: Its employees praise it as the company where “employees can follow the American Dream” through the many developments and learning opportunities.
9. Older Workers are More Engaged
In a report entitled Effects of Country & Age on Work Engagement, Job Satisfaction & Organizational Commitment Among Employees in the United States, the Sloan Center on Aging & Work concludes that older individuals are more engaged.
According to the Sloan report, “Among those aged 30-39 at the worksites in the United States, the average level of work engagement is lower compared to those aged 40-49 and those aged 50+.”
10. Women Are More Engaged Than Men
A study published in the IOSR Journal of Business and Management concludes that “gender diversity and employee engagement have a direct relationship.” The same study also concludes that women do not have the same opportunities as a man in many organizations.
Notwithstanding the reality presented above, Gallup reports that women tend to be more engaged than men. The same report also notes that employees, led by women, tend to be more engaged than those led by men.
11. Employee Engagement Boosts Results
Companies with engaged employees show better results when compared to those that do not. Gallup compared business units with high engagement levels with those that don’t and came up with the following conclusions. Engaged employees:
- Increase productivity by 17%
- Increase customer ratings by 10%
- Increase sales by 20%
- Increase profitability by 21%
- Reduce absenteeism by 41%
12. The cost of disengaged employees
The Human Resources news website, Hrdive.com, cites a collaborative study done by Sirota-Mercer, Deloitte, ROI, The Culture Works, and Consulting LLP involving 1,500 employees, concluding that “disengaged employees cost companies between $450 and $550 billion a year.” Writing for Forbes.com, Karlyn Borysenko suggests that a disengaged employee costs the company about 34% of their salary.
Recruiting Talent that will be engaged in the work that they do, can be a significant challenge to any business, but adopting online services like Smart Recruit Online and using behavioural Assessment tools such as Prism Brain Mapping, can provide powerful insights into what motives and engages individuals. This early-stage insight can establish fundamental conflicts between the individual’s engagement motivators and the role itself and can be particularly effective where there is a history of high attrition levels from within the first year of employment.