Employee engagement, loosely described as the mental and emotional connection people feel toward their work, directly impacts your bottom line.
Before we look at the employee engagement statistics we’ve gathered for this article, we’ll quickly define employee engagement, provide some reasons why employee engagement matters, and then briefly look at some factors impacting employee engagement.
What Is Employee Engagement?
A comprehensive definition of employee engagement is provided by Engage For Success, a voluntary movement that promotes employee engagement.
They describe employee engagement as “a workplace approach resulting in the right conditions for all members of an organization to give their best each day, committed to their organization's goals and values, motivated to contribute to organizational success, with an enhanced sense of their own well-being.”
Writing for Forbes.com, Kevin Kruse, the author of the book Great Leaders Have No Rules, advises that employee engagement is not the same as employee happiness.
Kruse argues that an employee can be happy and still not be productive. He also says employee engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction because an employee can be satisfied and still fail to go the extra mile.
From the insights above, employee engagement can be defined as a situation where an employee is emotionally invested in their company. This means that the employee cares whether the company succeeds, will defend it when it's criticized, and approaches their work with enthusiasm. This implies “the commitment your people have to the organization and its goals.”
As such, employee engagement is closely tied to productivity levels and employee retention.
Employee Engagement Statistics
It’s easy to make statements about employee engagement and how it’s good for your organization, but what do the numbers say?
We found 13 employee engagement statistics that we believe every manager should know in 2023:
1. A Record-high 23% Of Employees Globally Are Actively Engaged
In its State of the Global Workplace 2023 report, Gallup concludes that 23% of employees are engaged at work, the highest figure since they began measuring back in 2009.
But, although a positive step, that's still not quite 1 in 4 workers, so there is definite room for improvement here.
Other organizations looking at engagement levels across the globe present higher rates of engagement.
For instance, Kincentric, a provider of employee engagement solutions, states that globally 62% of employees were engaged in 2022 Q1 as compared to 68% in 2021. However, Kincentric only collects data from its clients.
2. Engagement Levels In The US Dropped 2 Percentage Points In 2023
Gallup reports that, since it started studying employee engagement, the highest percentage of engaged employees it’s ever recorded in the US was 36% in 2020. It fell to 33% by 2022, and the trend continues in 2023 as well, with 31% of engaged employees.
Perhaps more worryingly, the level of actively disengaged rose by 2 percentage points to 17%.
The falling levels of employee engagement and rising levels of disengagement is most strong amongst younger workers under 35 who report fewer learning and development opportunities and not feeling recognized for their contributions.
Interestingly, disengagement was present across onsite, hybrid, and remote workers, but particularly those forced to work onsite who could do their job from home.
3. Southeast Asia Reports The Highest Level Of Engagement
According to the Gallup report, workers in Southeast Asia report the highest levels of engagement, up to 33% from 26%. Coincidentally, this region reports the second-lowest levels of daily stress.
4. Europe bringing up the rear
Out of all the regions, Europe has the lowest percentage of engaged employees, down at 13%. The silver lining (kind of) to this is that only 15% are actively disengaged, with most sitting in the middle category of performing at just the required levels.
5. Decreasing Levels Of Actively Disengaged Employees
Gallup describes actively disengaged employees as “those who have miserable work experiences and spread their unhappiness to their colleagues.” Globally, this number decreased slightly in 2023, from 19% to 18%.
6. Employee Engagement Boosts Results
Companies with engaged employees show better results when compared to those that do not. Gallup compared business units with high engagement levels with those that don’t and came up with the following conclusions. Its employee engagement survey reveals that engaged employees:
- Increase productivity by 14%
- Increase customer ratings by 10%
- Increase sales by 18%
- Increase profitability by 23%
- Increase organizational participation by 13%
7. The Cost Of Disengaged Employees
The Gallup report estimates that actively disengaged and not engaged employees cost $8.8 trillion to companies globally in lost productivity. This figure equates to 9% of global GDP.
8. Engaged business units are more profitable
Another Gallup study concluded that “the behaviors of highly engaged business units result in 21% greater profitability.” The same study says that when employees are engaged they are less likely to leave.
9. Measure Employee Engagement The Right Way
Managers play a significant role in employee engagement and growth. So it’s important for them to have motivating communication with their team members.
Gallup surveyed over 2.7 million employees globally to come up with the 12 questions to help companies measure and boost employee engagement. This survey aims to open a dialogue between managers and their teams.
10. Regular Employee Feedback Is Key To Higher Employee Engagement
69% of employees feel that they’d be motivated to work harder and will be more engaged if they feel like their efforts are recognized.
Similarly, over 85% of employees feel that they’re more motivated to work when the management updates them on company news regularly.
11. Companies are now focusing more on productivity and engagement than just performance
Unsurprisingly considering the importance of employee engagement, according to the Performance Management Report, almost 48% of companies have started focusing on productivity and engagement rather than just development.
12. Learning and development opportunities lead to higher engagement
A study by Udemy found that 80% of people felt learning new skills would make them more engaged at work.
13. Engagement and burnout are a balance
A study by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence showed that 1 in 5 employees were highly engaged and still at risk of burnout.
While burnout is often thought to be a cause of disengagement, it stands to reason that highly engaged employees can burn out as a result of overworking.
How To Encourage Employee Engagement
Based on the above, what factors should organizations that are seeking to boost employee engagement focus on?
Develop good managers
Managers play a huge role in determining whether employees are committed to the organizations they work for or not.
To have a positive role, managers need to provide clear purpose and direction, give regular feedback with a focus on coaching, and recognize employees (potentially with the help of an employee recognition platform).
Provide learning and development opportunities
As we've seen from the companies reporting high levels of engagement, when people feel like they’re growing and developing new skills they’re much more likely to be engaged in their job.
Keep an eye on burnout
As we’ve seen, even highly engaged employees are at risk of burnout. Here’s how to identify, pre-empt, and deal with workplace burnout.
Want to really increase engagement? Ask your people
When you look at the engagement levels from Gallup, they're not great. But it's only a small sample size really.
When it comes to measuring engagement levels in your organization, the best method is to ask your employees! You can do this through engagement surveys using employee survey tools, stay interviews, or just regular, informal conversations.
Here are 8 effective methods to get employee feedback. Once you've spent time gathering feedback, keep employees in the loop with any changes you choose to make (or why you don't).
Not acknowledging any issues that arise from your research is a great way to unengage people.
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