Survey: U.S. employee engagement is rising

Gallup reports its highest figures since it began tracking this crucial productivity indicator in 2000.

Gallup reports rising engagement figures

U.S. workers appear to be finding the sunnier side of workplace life.

According to Gallup data, 34 percent of U.S. workers are now “engaged,” or “enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.” This is tied for the highest number Gallup has found since it began tracking employee engagement in 2000. Gallup also found an all-time low of “actively disengaged” employees (13 percent).

The news isn’t all good, however.

Gallup’s findings—derived from a “random sample of 30,628 full- and part-time U.S. employees working for an employer from January to June 2018”— established that 53 percent of staffers are still “not engaged” at work. That’s a hefty chunk of apathetic Allans and disinterested Donnas who show up but would rather be anywhere else.

Why the uptick in employee engagement? Gallup highlight four possibilities:

  1. The decline of unemployment and underemployment.
  2. Higher turnover rates. Gallup notes that newer employees tend to report higher rates of engagement. When turnover is high and more workers are starting new gigs, there’s more “honeymoon effect” of fresh enthusiasm to go around.
  3. Increases in worker satisfaction regarding benefits.
  4. Increases in worker satisfaction regarding recognition. Gallup also points to data that show increasing satisfaction with workplace relationships—including co-workers and supervisors.

Every company leader wants to reap the productivity, recruiting and retention benefits of sky-high engagement, but most are unwilling to make the substantive sacrifices and effort required to create a thriving, employee-first culture. Some simply never take the time to ask employees which benefits, perks or tweaks might improve their workplace experience.

If you’re keen to light a fire under your middling middle, or shift the indifferent majority of “not engaged” people toward “engaged” status, then flexibility is a safe place to start.

You might not be prepared to let workers determine their own hours, but why not allow work-from-home days or encourage a bit of flex time? Flexible arrangements are becoming increasingly crucial for retention, and establishing a reputation as an empathetic, understanding workplace won’t hurt your recruiting, either.

Gallup’s new findings portend good things for U.S. employers. However, employee engagement is not a “set it and forget it” venture. Company leaders must consistently woo employees—and respond to shifting preferences—before another organization sweeps them off their feet.

Read more about Gallup’s new employee engagement data here.

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