It’s hard to be engaged at work when the world’s ending. A couple of years into a new normal, though, the rise of flexible work and four-day workweeks has helped make today’s global workforce more engaged than ever.
That’s the good news. The bad news is, stress is at an all-time high, employees are increasingly disconnected from their company’s culture, and less than one-fourth of the workforce feels adequately recognized for their work or plans to stay with their company long-term.
Employee engagement is tough in the best of times. It’s even tougher when the world seems like it’s changing by the day.
Which can be an opportunity for you and your company. The gulf between the most-engaged teams and the average is wider than ever. Your company can buck the trends, building an engaged team with competitive advantages over the competition. Here are the stats you need going into 2024 to know how your company’s employee engagement stacks up—and what to do to improve it in the new year.
2023 Employee Engagement Statistics
Only 23% of employees globally feel engaged at work in 2023. That’s an all-time high, up from 20% in the middle of the 2020 pandemic, yet still low enough that Gallup estimates it detracts 9% of global GDP.
The engaged employees are thriving, less likely to feel stressed at work or be actively looking for a new job. But when over three out of four employees at most companies feel disengaged, it’s tough to push forward and deliver the best experiences to customers.
- 23% of employees globally are engaged at work—up from 20% in 2020 (Gallup)
- 32% of American employees are engaged at work—down from 36% in 2020 (Gallup)
- 72% of best-practices employees are engaged at work (Gallup)
- 51% of American workers are highly satisfied with their job overall (Pew Research)
- 23% of people are thriving at work (Gallup)
- 44% of employees report experiencing a lot of stress at work, an all-time high, up from 38% pre-pandemic (Gallup)
- Only one in four employees globally strongly agree that their opinions count at work (Gallup)
- Four out of 10 U.S. workers report that their job has an extremely negative (7%) or somewhat negative (33%) impact on their mental health (Gallup)
- 51% percent of currently employed workers around the world say they are watching for or actively seeking a new job (Gallup)
- 90% of employees are open to new job opportunities (PageExecutive)
- Lack of employee engagement could account for as much as 9% of GDP (Gallup)
The Benefits of Employee Engagement
“How you treat your team members guides how they treat your customers,” says Hilton CCO Chris Silcock. Engaged, excited employees are infectious—to their team members and to their customers—spreading enthusiasm and building a network of fans around your company.
Disengaged, disaffected employees are contagious as well. Negative experiences with employees drive over 60% of customers away, according to PWC. Interaction with employees is 71% of what makes or breaks a customer’s interaction with a brand. Happy employees are much more likely to create happy customers.
Engaged employees are also less likely to quit a team, which gives them more time to build customer and supplier relationships and perfect their skills in your company. That, in turn, should make them more equipped to perform at a higher level—and if your company supports their career growth, they’ll be increasingly engaged as they take ownership of new projects.
- CEOs ranked workforce issues as the second-most-pressing priority for their organizations in 2023, right behind growth (Gartner)
- Engaged employees are 50% less likely to be watching for or actively seeking a job and seven times as likely to strongly agree they would recommend their workplace as a great place to work. (Gallop)
- Engaged and digitally empowered frontline employees are 3x times more likely to deliver >20% annual growth (Deloitte)
- 97% of employees with a sense of ownership and strong engagement report they plan to stay with their company (Gallup)
- Engaged employees are 46% more likely to be thriving in wellbeing (Gallup)
What Contributes to Employee Engagement?
Overwhelmingly, a healthy work-life balance makes people more likely to feel engaged at work. Most people would choose their work-life balance over career success. When they can go together, employee loyalty shoots up.
And that makes sense. When you’re happy, healthy, well rested, with enough time to spend with your family and friends, you’ll be more likely to come to work without worries, less likely to be counting down the minutes until you can clock out.
But engagement doesn’t stop with long weekends and short commutes. Your team could find those elsewhere. Being appreciated for your work also plays a huge role in engagement—both recognition for a job done well and remuneration that shows the company recognizes performance. Competence and connection to employee culture play a part too—a growing challenge for HR teams when most new, young employees don’t feel equipped for their roles or connected to company culture.
- 64% of employees say the ability to focus on work they enjoy makes them feel engaged at work (Zapier)
- 96% of employees say having a work-life balance contributes to their happiness at work (Zapier)
- 7 out of 10 employees would choose work-life balance over career success (PageExecutive)
- 35% of HR executives say benefits are the main driver of employee engagement (The Predictive Index)
- Only 23% of employees strongly agree that they get the right amount of recognition for the work they do (Gallup)
- 51% of Gen Z employees say that their education has not prepared them to enter the workforce. (Harvard Business Review)
- Only two in 10 employees feel connected to their organization’s culture (Gallup)
- Only 44% of employees are satisfied with their opportunities to develop new skills, and only 33% with their opportunities for promotion (Pew Research)
- Only 34% of employees get feedback from their manager often or very often—but 80% those who do receive regular are satisfied with it (Pew Research)
Hybrid Work and Employee Engagement
Post-pandemic, the greatest change to employee engagement and work-life balance in 2023 has been hybrid work. Rather than fully-remote, with employees working full-time from a home office, hybrid employees work part of the time remotely, part of the time at the office. They’re most often in the office Tuesday to Thursday, with Mondays and Fridays increasingly being worked from elsewhere. In 2024, expect hybrid work to become increasingly common, if not expected by your employees.
That flexibility is the greatest driver of work-life balance this year. Employees value it as much as an 8% pay raise. No surprise, then, that half of HR executives have considered or implemented hybrid work. When both hiring and retention are increasingly difficult, hybrid work might be one of the easiest ways to increase employee retention and happiness.
What will require extra work, though, is maintaining connection to company culture—something that’s most difficult with fully remote work, but easier to manage with a few days where everyone’s in the office.
- Six in 10 employees with remote-capable jobs want a hybrid work arrangement (Gallup)
- 76% of employees say hybrid work improves work-life balance (Gallup)
- On-site employees have the lowest engagement at 29%, versus 38% for hybrid and remote employees (Gallup)
- Employees are the most engaged when they work 2-3 days per week on-site (Gallup)
- 14% of the workforce was hybrid in 2023—and that’s expected to grow to 16.3% of the workforce in 2028 (Harvard Business Review)
- Working from home is valued by employees about the same as an 8% pay increase, on average (Harvard Business Review)
- Hybrid workers are most likely to be in the office on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (Gallup)
- Employees are least likely to be in the office on Friday (Gallup)
- Only 1 in 4 workers consider the 3-6PM work timeframe to be productive (Slack)
- Workers who regularly take breaks have 15% higher productivity (Slack)
- 41% of HR leaders say employees’ connection to culture is compromised by hybrid work, while 28% of employees say the same (Gartner, Gallup)
- 64% of workers globally have already considered (or would consider) looking for a new job if their employer wanted them back in the office full time (Deloitte)
- 45% of CEOs ranked growth among their top 3 strategic priorities in 2023 (down from 53% in 2022) (Gartner)
- 64% of HR executives report the biggest roadblock to hiring top talent is finding qualified candidates (The Predictive Index)
- 50% of HR executives have adopted or considered flexible work schedules, and 37% have adopted or considered four-day workweeks. (The Predictive Index)
How to Increase Employee Engagement in 2024
The best pay, the most flexible work arrangements, the most mission-driven company cannot replace management. Management is the key driver of engagement. They account for 70% of team engagement variance, according to Gallup. Managers are the key thread holding company culture together, what 60% of hybrid workers say is their “direct connection to company culture,” according to Gartner.
So how can managers leverage their role to boost employee engagement?
- Recognize—and act on—employee feedback
It’s one thing to go to your job and do your required tasks. It’s another to care enough to try to make things better. When employees put in that extra effort to highlight what could be improved in a company’s products and processes, but the company doesn’t show that they appreciate or take action on that feedback, it creates a doom loop of decreasing engagement. That formerly engaged, excited employee will go back to doing the minimum—and, perhaps, start looking for a new role.
Managers are the first line of defense. They can listen, gather feedback with employee engagement surveys, and let team members know their feedback was heard and acted on. “The difference between success and failure is how leadership communicates the message they’ve received and what will happen next,” says Gallup.
Shout out to employees and thank them for their ideas in your all-hands meetings. Share their feedback on digital signage—and list the ways you’re working to implement it. The little act of making people feel heard can go incredibly far in keeping team members engaged.
- Give employees the education to level-up skills
Your team is great at what they do today. That’s why they were hired or promoted to your team. But in an ever-changing workplace, those skills are quickly being replaced by newer processes. And if they’re new to the team, they might be trying and struggling to learn on the job, only to find that their new skills are quickly outdated.
IBM estimates that the average technical skill today has a half-life of only two-and-a-half years. Your team’s engagement is, at least partly, tied to their competence in their current role. If you can help them learn more on the job, they’ll be prepared for tomorrow’s challenges—and more engaged at your company in the meantime.
Find ways to add ongoing education and development to your work schedule. Everything from courses and seminars to snippets of information shared on digital signage can help team members learn new skills over time. And while you’re sharing tips on signage, include updates about open internal roles so team members can find a new, internal job they’re excited about instead of looking further afield. That will increase their competence at their job and open avenues for internal promotion—both key drivers of employee engagement.
And while you’re at it, be sure to share feedback with employees as well. It’s hard to deliver feedback, especially when it’s less than positive, but the stats say employees will appreciate it and your feedback gives them the best way to level-up.
- Share knowledge internally
Access to internal data in your company—knowing how that last ad campaign performed, how the company’s sales are this week, how close the team is to hitting its goals this quarter—can be the most motivating thing for your team. Even with access to internal data, your team doesn’t have time to check every stats dashboard each day. If they could see any important number in your company at a glance on digital signage, they’d get the same benefit in a fraction of the time.
Gartner lists having an “augmented connected workforce” as one of its top emerging trends for 2024, a trend it sees centered in the metaverse and AR/VR devices. Yet perhaps, the most direct version of that is a bit closer to the screens already on your office’s walls. Build custom dashboards that showcase your company’s most important stats and share graphs from your team’s apps. Put them on digital signage around your company with ScreenCloud. Then when your team’s taking a break or walking down the hallway, they’ll get a heads-up display of what’s important at your company, keeping them informed and engaged.
- Build a stronger team culture
Then, culture, that elusive thing that plays such a large role in engagement. With hybrid workforces especially, management plays a larger role than ever in building an effective company culture that keeps the team engaged.
Management can “create a shared sense of purpose and belonging to improve retention,” recommends Gartner. Give your team something to get behind, something to fight for, something they’ll want to work on next.
Managers can help their teams navigate the changing culture with remote, hybrid, and global teams working together. “Leaders need to build intentional connections among employees across geographic — and generational — boundaries,” suggests Harvard Business Review. It’s something every multinational company has faced for decades. Today, your company needs to do the same, no matter how large or small an organization.
Use the data to inform your team-focused decisions. Fewer hybrid employees are in the office on Mondays and Fridays, on average, so consider scheduling all-hands meetings on Tuesdays or Thursdays instead—and perhaps in the late afternoon when team members already feel less productive. Or, if team members are needed in the office on a day they’d rather not have to come in, perhaps that’s a great day to cater lunch or bring in donuts for a bit of a morale boost.
And if management does their job well enough, employees will be so engaged by their jobs that they won’t be easily tempted away to greener pastures. “[Employees] should be getting poached by the best companies and yet not leaving because they love the work,” Ally Financial chief information, data, and digital officer Sathish Muthukrishnan told Deloitte.
Building a more engaged workforce in 2024
No one in 2019 would have predicted how the world would change overnight, let alone the knock-on effects on productivity, engagement, and stress that would reshape today’s workplace. And it’s nearly impossible to imagine how offices may look a decade from now, as tech continues to change our workspaces.
But what is certain is that people matter most. With a few tweaks to how you share information and bring the team together, you can start building a more engaged workforce in 2024 filled with team members excited about doing their best work each day.
Image Credit: Header photo by Mimi Thian via Unsplash