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Gallup: Employee engagement at an all-time low

from  December 22, 2022 | 5 min read

We all know just how important employee engagement is – understandable given professional services are people-driven enterprises. There’s a direct correlation between your people’s engagement and the productivity they contribute to your organization – not to mention the profits they generate. But what many likely don’t realize is just how much room for improvement there is, or how much money they might be leaving on the table by not pursuing higher engagement.

A recent survey by leading global research and workplace consulting firm Gallup reveals that employee engagement – while stable – has never been lower. Just one fifth of people say they feel engaged at work. This is in stark contrast to pre-pandemic trends, which saw wellbeing and engagement rising steadily the world over for nearly a decade.

Finding 1 – global engagement and wellbeing at stable lows

Only 21% of employees worldwide are engaged at work, and only 33% are thriving in their overall wellbeing.

Although there is some difference between regions (North America – by far the best region in the world to be an employee across all metrics – tops the tables with 33% engaged, Europe trails with 14%), the global picture couldn’t be clearer: most people are simply not engaged in their work, and most would say they don’t find their work meaningful.

What’s more, most would also say – thanks to worldwide uncertainty and economic turmoil – they don’t think their lives are going well, and they don’t feel hopeful about the future.

The report’s other findings provide some startling insight as to why engagement and wellbeing are so poor across the globe.

Finding 2 – stress is at an all-time high

Whether it’s a result of work or other life priorities, employees are even more stressed than they were this time in 2020 (a previous all-time high set by the strains of the pandemic.)

Over 40% of employees surveyed say they experienced a lot of stress in the previous day. Between regions there is some variation, with women in the US and Canada experiencing the greatest levels of stress (an unusual departure for the region which is otherwise among the best in the world to work by other metrics.)

Finding 3 – COVID-19 is still leaving a mark: especially in Europe and Asia

South Asia has the world’s lowest wellbeing score (just 11%) – and workers in both South Asia and Europe feel like their current life is worse than it was in the past, and have limited hopes for their future. This is perhaps because

Finding 4 – …the job market has recovered in the US and Canada… but not anywhere else

Less than half of the global workforce think that now is a good time for them to find a job in their country. The US and Canada are an outlier by a large margin, with 71% saying now is a good time to get hired.

Difficult times call for decisive action

Working to boost employee wellbeing and engagement scores isn’t just a moral imperative for organizations – it’s a financial imperative too. In a period of ongoing disruption, looking after your people pays dividends, and equips them to both contribute more to your business’s operational efficiency and bottom line, but also to be more proactive in seeking out innovations and new routes to competitive advantage. It also has the added benefit of reducing your attrition rates – creating an additional source of stability and continuity in spite of disruption.

Here’s our tips for how you can actively track – and improve – your engagement and wellbeing scores.

1. Put innovation at the core of your firm’s strategy

Pursuing innovation doesn’t just help you to create new offerings, provide better levels of service to your customers and clients, and increase your profitability. It provides your people with a common purpose that allows them to engage more fully with their work – ultimately making it possible for your whole company to do more.

Being an innovation-focused organization however doesn’t just mean innovating in terms of your offering to the market. It means innovating in terms of how you work internally, and how you treat your people. Adopting an approach that prioritizes test-and-learn tactics and continuous improvement over simply trying to follow anyone else’s ideas of best practice, and bringing everyone with you on the journey to make your company a better place to work and a better provider or services.

2. Really lean on employee feedback

Your people often know exactly what is and isn’t working in the organization – but to learn what they know, you actually have to ask them. By turning the giving and receiving of feedback into a core part of the employee experience with regular engagement pulse surveys, you’ll not only get a more dynamic picture of engagement and wellbeing levels, but you’ll also start to quickly see patterns emerging in areas which need attention. This gives you a greater deal of visibility and power to make the changes your people need to engage more with their work and feel valued and protected by the company.

3. Keep your employees empowered to do work that matters

One of the biggest negative impactors on employee engagement in any industry is the inability to do meaningful and valuable work. Automation is one of the most powerful tools available to you in helping your people to both do and feel like they are doing more meaningful work, as it presents a realistic way to remove the burden of essential administrative tasks and other low-value work that gets in the way of solving clients’ problems.

Prioritizing in technology that can help you automate more of your operations also helps you to lay the foundations for greater innovation by making data analysis and reporting simpler and the derivation of real transformative insight easier.

4. Invest in skills

One of the most impactful ways in which you can boost engagement is helping your people to upskill – both in terms of the skills your organization needs now, but also the skills your people need for their next onward move.

Lifetime employment is a thing of the past, with average tenure lengths for younger workers just over 2 years (as opposed to more than 20 in older generations.) This isn’t a trend any company can fully reverse. But what you can do is equip your people with the skills they need both to help you and help themselves, as this not only creates happier and more productive workers now, but enthusiastic advocates for your company elsewhere in the future. (And, potentially, even boomerang employees in the long term.)

Ready to learn more?

The way you treat your talent in the next several years will be make or break for your firm’s future. To help you make the right decisions, we want to share with you Service Performance Insight’s findings on talent best practices for service-based businesses. Check out our interactive eBook Future-proofing your talent strategy here.

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