Employee Engagement Has Continued to Decline Since 2021, Surveys Say

March 2023
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After trending upward for a decade, employee engagement began to fall in late 2021 and continues to drop, a new Gallup report finds. In the United States, employee engagement slid to 34% in 2021, from 36% in 2020, according to surveys. 

Interest and enthusiasm that employees have for their jobs dropped further in 2022, with just 32% of full- and part-time employees engaged in their work. Meanwhile, 18% were actively disengaged, a four-point increase since 2020. 

Gallup says it measures worker engagement by asking random samples of employees about workplace elements that affect organizational outcomes, such as profitability and customer service. 

Aspects of employee engagement that have fallen most include clarity of expectations, connection to the company’s mission or purpose, opportunities to learn and grow, opportunities for employees to do what they do best and having a best friend at work. Actively disengaged employees are disgruntled and disloyal because most of their workplace needs are unmet, Gallup says.

For employees under the age of 35, engagement decreased by four points, while active disengagement rose by four points, compared to before the pandemic. Engagement among employees 35 and older fell by two points, while actively disengaged workers in this group increased by one point. 

Younger employees reported declines in feeling cared about at work, having someone who encourages their development and feeling that their opinions count. Some companies have maintained higher employee engagement by embracing flexible and hybrid work and maintaining strong connections between managers and employees, Gallup says. 

Jim Harter, chief workplace scientist at Gallup and author of the new report, told NPR that the role of managers has increased significantly during the pandemic, and is key to helping with employee engagement.

“Managers will figure out the idiosyncrasies of each person they [supervise],” Harter said. “They’re the only ones that are close enough to do that.”

Return to Current Issue The Future of Work | March 2023
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[andriy onufriyenko]

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