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Employee engagement stats for 2020 and beyond

Key employee engagement stats for 2020

Reading Time: 6 minutes

As anyone who’s read our blog before knows, we’re all about employee engagement here at Weekly10. Engagement feeds directly into productivity, reduces staff attrition and is also important for employee wellbeing. 

Employee engagement is a hugely important element of the modern workplace, especially so in 2020 when our working lives have been flung into a certain level of chaos. 

So here’s our list of 15 employee engagement statistics every manager should know. There’s no pop quiz at the end, but feel free to take notes. Or just bookmark this article!

Engagement isn’t the only factor affecting employee satisfaction

Gartner’s 2019 Modern Employee Experience survey found that only 21% of highly engaged respondents reported having a “high-quality worklife experience.” It’s important to take a multi-faceted approach to employee engagement that considers the different aspects of employee wellbeing.

A lack of trust can make it difficult to promote engagement

The same Gartner study also found that only a little over a fifth of respondents felt comfortable being completely honest about what they want from their experience at work. But personal development is at the core of employee engagement and job satisfaction, which is difficult to achieve without open communication.

Engagement is a major issue for UK businesses

Starting in 2012, Gallup has performed various surveys on employee engagement in the UK, with the most recent of these being in 2017. This survey found that only 8% of UK employees were engaged at work. At the end of 2018, a survey, by the UK HR company Cascade, of over 400 business directors by voted employee engagement as the most significant issue going into the new year, with 40% of the vote, followed by recruitment (37%) and retention (36%).

Nearly half of UK workers don’t have a job suited to their skill level

According to CIPD’s 2019 UK Working Lives report, 37% of respondents were over-skilled for their current job, while 12% were under-skilled. Regardless of whether you’re over-qualified and bored, or improperly trained and mistake-prone, not having an appropriate skill level for your job is a recipe for poor engagement. But that’s far from the only finding in the CIPD report.

Senior managers and high-paid workers are more engaged

Enthusiasm and effort are two key factors of engagement. The 2019 UK Working Lives report found that senior managers and highly paid workers with post-grad qualifications were more likely to report high levels of enthusiasm. They also found that rates of “discretionary effort” (effort that doesn’t stem from clear obligation) were higher in managerial and professional positions, lower in administrative positions, and lowest in manual and casual work.

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UK workers have poor work/life balance

CIPD’s report also found that when compared to 24 other “comparator economies”, the UK ranked 24th out of 25 for work/life balance. Three in five UK employees are working longer hours than they would like, even when considering their need to make a living. 32% also report being given excessive workloads.

And Work/life balance directly impacts engagement

The Corporate Executive Board, which represents the majority of Fortune 500 companies in the US, found that employees who were satisfied with their work/life balance worked 21% harder than those who weren’t. This is significant because poor work/life balance is a direct contributor to employee turnover, and what is turnover if not the end result of a lack of engagement?

Employee engagement is gradually improving in the US

Gallup found that in 2019, 35% of US employees were engaged. Gallup has been tracking engagement in US employees since 2000, and this is actually the highest level it has reached in that time. This puts the US ahead of the curve compared to Gallup’s 2017 global survey, which put the global level of workplace engagement at an extremely problematic 15%.

But just under two-thirds of US workers still aren’t engaged

But that leaves the remaining 65% to consider. 52% are not engaged with their work, while 12% are “actively disengaged” to the point of misery. While the level of so-called actively disengaged workers has fallen since Gallup’s record started in 2000, and they are ahead of the curve compared to Gallup’s global findings in 2017, the majority of workers being disengaged still poses a major issue for US businesses.

Satisfaction doesn’t necessarily equate to engagement

A Society for Human Resource Management study found that almost nine tenths of surveyed US workers were either somewhat or very satisfied with their current job. While this doesn’t quite gel with Gallup’s research, SHRM also found that 40% of employees were considering seeking employment elsewhere. This may suggest that, while day-to-day satisfaction is important for engagement, it isn’t the only factor.

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Engagement and satisfaction are driven by trust and mutual respect

In that same SHRM study, 65% of respondents indicated that respectful treatment of all employees was considered an important factor for job satisfaction, followed by compensation. Trust between employees and management was rated as important as compensation (62%) but came third because one third of employees were already satisfied with trust in their organisation, whereas just over a quarter were satisfied with compensation.

The vast majority of HR leaders support check-ins and peer feedback

A collaborative report released by the Society for Human Resource Management and Globoforce on employee recognition found that 89% of HR leaders believe on-going peer feedback and regular check-ins are essential for engaging your employees. And you know us; we don’t need an excuse to talk about the benefits of a good employee check-in!

Employees who feel heard are far more engaged

Another thing we like to sing praises for at Weekly10 is the importance of feedback that goes both ways. A study by Salesforce, “The Impact of Equality and Values Driven Business”, found that employees who felt like their voices were being heard were 4.6x more likely to do their best work. The critiques they receive for self-improvement are only part of the reason for this, though. Knowing your manager is willing to listen to any problems you’re experiencing makes it much easier to get behind their vision for the company.

Lack of engagement is costly for businesses

It can be hard to pin down just how costly a lack of engagement actually is. A Gallup statistic that has been cited a lot in the last few years is that disengagement costs roughly a third of an employee’s salary in lost productivity. The example they give is that for every $10,000 you pay a disengaged employee, you lose around £3,400. More recently, a collaborative study by The Conference Board, Sirota-Mercer, Deloitte, ROI, and The Culture Works and Consulting LLP found that disengaged employees cost businesses between $450 and $550 billion a year.

How organisations define “employee engagement” can vary

This isn’t a survey-driven statistic like everything else on this list, but it’s still important because it gives our closing statistic some valuable context. The Society for Human Resource Management has highlighted how definitions of what makes employee engagement can vary between different organisations and research bodies. Some examples they provide in their article are:

  • Quantum Workplace: Employee engagement is the strength of the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward their places of work.
  • Gallup: Engaged employees are those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.
  • Willis Towers Watson: Engagement is employees’ willingness and ability to contribute to company success.
  • Aon Hewitt: Employee engagement is “the level of an employee’s psychological investment in their organization.”

This is important because, despite common ground, these differences inevitably affect any research these groups do into the concept of employee engagement. In order to keep developing our insight into engagement in the workplace, it may be necessary to arrive at a more universally shared definition of what engagement actually is.

1 in 5 highly engaged employees is at risk of burnout

A survey of 1,000 US workers by Yale University found that a fifth of respondents reported both high engagement and high burnout. While they were considered to be passionate, and interested in their work, they reported high levels of stress and frustration. They also reported higher turnover intention, even compared to unengaged employees.

So there you have it, our long list of employee engagement statistics. If you’re hankering for more statistical information, then you might like our list of remote working stats. If you want to learn more about employee engagement in general, there’s no better place to start than our blog!

Interested in seeing how Weekly10 measures, builds and promotes great employee engagement?

Research Associate