Employee Engagement in the 21st Century

August 12, 2019

Today, most people around the globe experience dissatisfaction at work. Engagement, retention, and other crucial workforce measurements are at record lows—and plummeting. Managers and executives around the world must understand predominant trends in the workforce, then understand how to tackle the negative ones. Yet, there must be a balance between concerning all company leadership in employee engagement and actually collecting worker feedback in a methodical way.

Why is engagement low?


According to the Economist, “a staggering 89% of employees worldwide were not engaged in their work [as of 2011]… most employees are ‘emotionally detached and likely to be doing little more than is necessary to keep their jobs.’” Their recent report on employee experience shows that management around the world—particularly in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other Western cultures—is launching a renewed focus on engaging workers.

There are several potential explanations for low engagement. TinyPulse points to a lack of internal connection, few employee recognition programs, poor work cultures, and other deficits. On a broader scale, the current economic expansion has produced a vibrant job market with ample opportunities and competitive wages. In addition to “push” factors that drive employees out of lackluster workplaces, employees experience “pull” factors that bring them to greener pastures elsewhere.

As a result, it is critical for corporate leaders to make their workplaces “stickier” through better internal conditions, which both encourage employees to stay and draw in new employees.

Who is responsible?


In their report, the Economist interviewed several leaders to determine which C-suite office is typically in charge of employee experience. The results indicate that the Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) often takes the lead. Yet, other officials—namely, the Chief Information Officer (CIO)—are taking on more responsibility in response to the digitization of human resources.

Meanwhile, the Economist lamented the fact that most corporate leaders do not take personal responsibility in shaping employee experience. As the publication says, “Shaping the employee experience tends to be a shared responsibility among multiple senior executives. This can, however, often signal a lack of leadership clarity and lead to a vacuum.” 

Evidently, it is important for all leaders to have some level of concern over listening to employees. But, as the old adage goes, “If it’s everyone’s job, it’s no one’s job.” Companies must balance strong leadership with universal concern for employees.

What can management do?


Research proves that when companies implement continuous employee feedback systems, they experience—on average—14.9% lower turnover, in addition to higher overall engagement.

At the same time, there is danger in simply collecting feedback for the sake of giving employees the mere illusion of feeling heard. As Michelle Smith of Arizona-based WorldatWork says, “Don’t even bother to ask employees what’s preventing them from feeling more engaged… if you don’t intend to publicly do something with what you learn… you’ll do more harm to your company culture and employees’ engagement levels if your inquiries don’t result in visible changes in the workplace.”

Clearly, low employee engagement is a problem across the globe. While every manager should have a vested interest in employee experience, engaging workers should never simply be “everyone’s job.” Choose one executive to lead employee engagement efforts, yet meaningfully involve other leaders in workplace experience policy. Furthermore, when leaders elect to receive feedback from employees, it should never be a charade. Executives should listen to employees with genuine intentions of acting upon feedback.

Find out how Qlicket can help your company solve the employee engagement problem, listen to workers, and implement solutions.

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