Employee engagement statistics are a bit of an obsession for some HR professionals. They wonder how so much effort can reap so few results. As we watch engagement rates continue their downward slide, the question arises – what’s going on here?
Facing the Facts: How Employees Feel Today
Yes, you’ve read them with a somewhat sinking feeling – the latest employee engagement statistics. But it’s important to talk about where we are today, before we can understand how we can do better. As Mark Twain would say, let’s eat that frog and get it over with. So here are some of the latest:
- According to Gallup, employee engagement rates increased from 2010 until 2020, at which point they began to drop, and haven’t stopped dropping
- Right now, on average, 32% of employees are engaged, 51% are disengaged, and 17% are actively disengaged
- Poorly engaged employees show performance levels that are half that of engaged employees
- The industry with the lowest engagement rate is actually technology, at 15%
All of this, despite the fact that companies spend an average of $2,500 per employee per year to optimize their experience.
The Stat that Will Blow Your Mind
But it’s not all bad news. Here’s a statistic that is almost shocking to frustrated HR practitioners: 93% of workers at non-profit organizations are engaged. If you’re into math, that’s almost triple Gallup’s average.
Do non-profits know something that many of us don’t? Perhaps non-profit employees are just doing a charitable stint before they head off to the corporate world and make real money. Or maybe, the salaries at these organizations are phenomenal.
Nope and nope. Almost 90% of these people intend to stay for the long haul. And, just as surprisingly, more than half are “financially uncomfortable.”
What’s Up with That?
Non-profit work is characterized by apparently unattractive features: long hours, few resources, and low pay. Plus, if their job is to ask for donations, they also experience a lot of rejection.
What the employees get in return, however, are a sense of purpose, skills, experience, the development of patience, and a deep connection with their organization. After all, non-profit employees can choose whatever company they want. Considering their long-term dedication, it seems like this freedom really counts.
Emotions and Engagement
There are two sides to this situation.
As mentioned above, non-profit workers desire skills and experience. They want to have the tools they need both to advance at their organization, and in case they switch to the corporate sector. So at least part of their high engagement rates is due to the training and tasks in which they participate, just as in any other type of organization.
For this reason, HR should stick with the L&D programs that allow employees to grow in their careers while supporting their company.
But the other considerations are a sense of purpose and connection with what the organization is doing. Obviously, people who are willing to forgo a good salary to work at a socially-focused enterprise see this as highly meaningful.
Yet it turns out that the same is true of most other employees, even in the for-profit world. During her research into happiness, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson discovered that 75% of people who generally feel happy don’t have a similar feeling of meaningfulness. So the common mission of HR to build a sense of happiness among employees (for instance, Dooglers) doesn’t necessarily increase engagement.
Another interesting story from The New York Times, titled “Why You Hate Work”, found that 50% of haters don’t think that their jobs have significance.
Compare this to workers who describe their jobs as having meaning – they are three times as likely to remain with the company that gives them this feeling, even in a profit-centered business.
Finding Meaning in the Workplace
Much of it boils down to culture. A great workplace culture inspires employees to understand how they fit into something bigger than themselves. In some ways, this is the ultimate form of growth.
Inc. Magazine agrees. Author Jacob Morgan states that, if an engagement survey was boiled down to one question, it should be: “Do you show up to work every day with the intention of helping others succeed?” Circle back to our friends at the non-profit, and you’ll realize that this is exactly what they are doing.
The non-profit sector can teach the rest of us an important lesson. The truth about engagement programs, and the statistics they produce, is that many companies are missing out on this crucial aspect of the employee experience. To create engagement, you can only get to the heart of the matter by reaching the hearts of workers.
Give Purpose with GrowthSpace
Getting workers to truly identify with their organization means the right kind of employee experiences. The challenge for HR is to find the best courses, mentors, and coaches to deliver them – and then manage the whole operation.
Through a global network of ICF-certified L&D professionals, GrowthSpace provides access to the world’s top experts for virtually any area. The GrowthSpace platform takes care of much of the administrative work when it comes to running, assessing, and administering courses, for one employee or for one thousand. If engagement is your priority, make GrowthSpace your L&D solution.