Tips for reversing an 11-year low in employee engagement


Jordan Katz presents a power conversation

Technology can make or break employee performance, engagement and satisfaction.

Ragan’s director of content Jess Zafarris, sat down with Jordan Katz, chief insights officer for Simpplr, to get a download on simple shifts in the way employees interact with technology that can improve their satisfaction and boost the effectiveness of internal communications.

His first tip? Prioritize and encourage expressions of gratitude. Twice each year Simpplr holds a “Season of Gratitude” celebration in which everyone at every level is encouraged to give recognition across the organization.

But there’s far more internal communicators can do to boost morale, productivity and beyond across their organizations.

Gallup reported that in Q1 of 2024, employee engagement in the U.S. hit an 11-year low, with only 30% of employees reporting being highly engaged at work and 17% feeling actively disengaged. In the past 24 years, the highest engagement rate reported was 36% — so despite billions of dollars and decades of efforts to improve employee culture and experience, things have mostly remained stagnant, if not declined.

“Research is indicating that it’s about digital experience and people’s interaction with technology,” Katz said. Sending more emails and blasting more content via every channel is just another thing that gets lost in the avalanche of content.

“When we think about technology, we have to think about ‘how does that interact and integrate with everything an employee does and experiences,’ and ‘how do they want to be communicated to,’” he said.

Fortunately, technology can also help solve that problem, with modern employee engagement software allowing communicators to tailor digital experiences to individual preferences and modes of communication. It just takes evaluating whether technology is creating friction or removing it.

Simpplr’s 2024 State of Internal Communications Report examined the ways internal comms efforts impact (and fail to impact) employee perspectives, morale and digital interactions, and how those efforts are measured.

One finding: Much of what internal communicators measure is an “upstream metric,” such as open rate, click-throughs, behavior adoption, leader engagements or number of comms sent out.

“All of those things are upstream from what people care about, ultimately, which is organizational metrics, KPIs like revenue, profitability, safety incidents, quality, retention,” he said. “A lot of internal comms folks don’t realize that what they do have an impact on those downstream metrics maybe more directly than almost anyone.”

So, to get leadership buy-in, communicators have to connect the dots between their work and “the furthest downstream stats” possible.

If you talk to a leader about clickthrough rates, “they’re already asleep,” he said. “But if you say, hey, this is a critical message that’s going to increase revenue growth… boom, they are with you 100%, and they’ll be with you 100% on an ongoing basis.”

Watch below to learn more about how reframing employee relationships with technology can create a positive and rewarding digital workplace and prove the value of internal communications.

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