Is Employee Engagement Headed in the Wrong Direction?

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A recent Gallup study of over 57,000 participants indicates that employee engagement is headed in the wrong direction for the first time in 10 years. Business has always relied on measurements and metrics. While some metrics are easy to understand, employee engagement scores are not one of them.


A highly engaged workforce offers a multitude of benefits, so it’s as important as it gets to organizational success. Still, Employee Engagement scores remain an enigmatic computation. A common inclination may be to attribute the drop in employee engagement scores to the pandemic, yet through the middle of 2021 – well into the pandemic – engagement numbers were rising. Could the more recent decline be a reaction to leadership failing to make the best decisions for their workers over the last couple of years?


Important and difficult decisions are often made only after considering the ramifications of the options available to the decision-makers at any given time. Are some leaders bypassing that step in the decision-making process and now experiencing the repercussions?


Let’s look at the employee numbers:

  • 36% are engaged
  • 16% are actively disengaged


What happened to the 16%? Obviously, their workplace needs went unmet. Were they asked about their needs? Will that number grow if management doesn’t change the conversation? According to Gallup’s current statistics, the remaining 48% of employees present an opportunity to positively influence them. While management plays a large role in that influence, they’re affected as well. Middle management is a tough gig, with pressure from above and below, and often no training in motivating and retaining employees. Those folks need clear expectations and direction. Ambiguity can breed confusion leading to frustration.

So now what?

All relationships are more effective when there’s clear communication and the workplace is no different. Through properly designed employee incentive, reward, and recognition programs, leadership can convey what’s important to the organization. Concise messaging is a key component of an effective program, along with role clarity and properly set expectations that are aligned with organizational goals. Employees who feel recognized and appreciated stay with the organization. Creating a culture of recognition that includes peer-to-peer recognition as well as a deliberate focus on Wellness will improve employee engagement. Likewise, incorporating resources for mental and physical health and safety into employee programs will go a long way toward engaging and retaining current employees.


While these initiatives seem basic, the implementation can be challenging. Most business leaders are not trained in designing or implementing employee reward, recognition, or performance improvement programs. Partnering with an experienced firm will ensure a successful outcome, avoid unintended consequences, and steer the organization back to a higher level of employee engagement.


To get started improving your employee engagement levels and all the benefits that a highly engaged workforce provides, contact us today!



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