Engaged employees are more efficient and productive. But the majority of the workplace around the world isn’t engaged. This has serious repercussions for business success.

According to Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” report, disengaged employees have 37% higher absenteeism, 18% lower productivity, and 15% lower profitability. They also cost their companies 34% of their total salary. A disengaged employee earning $60,000 a year translates into the company losing $20,400 annually. The higher the salary, the greater the impact.

Yet, according to the Deloitte Review, American companies spend over $100 billion every year in a bid to improve employee engagement.

What is Employee Engagement?

Quantum Workplace defines employee engagement as “the strength of the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward their places of work”.

Willis Towers Watson states that employee engagement is “employees’ willingness and ability to contribute to company success”.

According to Gallup, engaged employees are “those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace”.

The U.S. and global employee engagement statistics

According to research, 36% of U.S. employees are engaged in their work and workplace. This matches Gallup’s composite percentage of engaged employees in 2020. Globally, 20% of employees are engaged at work.

What can you interpret from this?

Your employees’ level of engagement (viz. their mindset and behavior when they come to work each day) has a major impact on what they think about your company. Even though your employees are happy with the employee benefits you offer or the work environment, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are actually engaged with their jobs.

Aiming for a better future

In a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of SAP SuccessFactors, Qualtrics and EY, July 2020 – 1 out of 3 respondents expect employee experience (EX) to be the single most important part of an effective HR strategy by 2022. EX isn’t merely an HR issue. Forrester’s research uncovered a clear correlation between EX and long-term business value. With good experiences, teams become more agile and productive. They work harder to overcome hurdles and improve customer service. The quality of their work goes up. It means the most talented people are more likely to stay longer and recommend the company to others.

Ideally, leadership sets the goals to align your employees’ experiences with your company’s purpose, brand and culture. All interactions employees have should be authentic and sustainable. This inspires employee commitment and improves your company’s performance. With the right employee experience strategy, you can boost your ability to attract, engage and develop high-performing employees.

But where do things go wrong?

  • HR and Employees are disconnected

Employee perceptions of what they experience and what HR believes is being experienced are not the same. According to the Forrester survey:

  • 39% of HR professionals believe their EX deliverable will be “excellent” within two years; yet only 15% of employees expect the same.
  • 81% of employees believe that creating and sustaining a positive culture is important for a good employee experience, only 58% of HR managers think the same.
  • Only 54% of HR managers feel confident in being able to deliver a positive culture.
  • While 80% of HR leaders believe they’re equipping employees with what they need to succeed, nearly 50% of employees say:
    • the tech they’re provided is difficult to use;
    • and three quarters say the applications and data they need aren’t always accessible on desktop and mobile.
  • A third of companies don’t have a method for measuring their EX, and others aren’t collecting and analyzing that data effectively.

Conclusion

Any company seeking to build and deliver an effective EX program first needs the ability to collect, comprehend and apply that EX data. Listening to employees should be a top priority to understand their sentiments and work mood.

While data and insight hold the key to better understanding, they can also present a major challenge. Existing systems may be outdated and have a poor employee reach.

Listening means consistent programs or mechanisms to collect feedback and gather information. Voice-of-the-employee feedback programs on their experiences will help the company establish the ideal journey maps and deliver better experiences. This is not just an HR responsibility, but the broader business must also contribute towards the EX journey. This includes the C-suite who support HR to secure greater investment and better tools.

About the Author: Martin Brandt

Martin Brandt is the Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer for JamAngle.