At the end of last year, there was a lot of talk in HR about a new trend in the labor market, which was described as “quiet quitting”. This phenomenon referred to a conscious resignation from engaging in work in an area beyond the standard duties listed in the employment contract and described primarily the behavior of young full-time employees classified as part of the so-called Generation Z. This is indeed the case, as confirmed by a study conducted in the United States. Today we’ll see whether employee engagement is actually in decline and w’ell try to explain what this might be due to. We also point out the best tactics that HR can implement to minimize this problem.

Employee engagement in decline – table of contents:

  1. Employee engagement vs. survey results
  2. Why is employee engagement declining?
  3. How to take care of employee engagement?
  4. Employee engagement – summary

Employee engagement vs. survey results

The Gallup Institute, one of the world’s most recognized opinion polling firms, was the first to sound the alarm on the topic of employee engagement, recently releasing a summary of its 2022 U.S. survey (repeated quarterly each time on a sample of 15,000 people). The survey found that for the first time in more than a decade, the rate of engagement at work has seen a decline. Currently, only 32% of full- and part-time employees responded affirmatively in this regard, compared to 34 in 2021 and 36% in 2020. As part of the survey, employee engagement was assessed in terms of such elements as:

  • clarity of expectations,
  • relationship to the company’s mission or purpose,
  • learning and development opportunities,
  • opportunity to do one’s best,
  • sense of interest and care by the employer.

Why is employee engagement declining?

Although the drop appears relatively small, it can nevertheless become worrisome to professionals and make them wonder what the reasons are behind it. Still, they can certainly result from a generational shift related to the fact that for today’s young people entering or having been on the job market for only a few years. Being part of an organization and working for its success aren’t the top priorities for them. They believe it’s much more important to have opportunity to develop and learn new skills and keep a healthy work-life balance.

On the other hand, it can also be argued that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed people’s thinking in the area of what matters most in life – employees now place more emphasis on their health and physical or mental well-being, which can have an impact on the visible and studied commitment to work.

How to take care of employee engagement?

However, it’s not as if organizations – especially HR departments – don’t have any tools to positively influence how employees feel about the company and their approach to their duties. Here are some of the most popular techniques that can be used to improve employee engagement.

  1. Ensure clear and transparent goals – the goals of the organization should be clear and understandable to each person, and at the same time consistent with the individual goals set for him or her (understanding the company’s mission, vision and development strategy is crucial in this area).
  2. Nurture the professional development of employees – HR has to provide opportunities for employees to continuously develop and improve their skills through training, mentoring programs or support in acquiring new skills (this is how an employee feels valued and new skills help them perform better)
  3. Conduct regular feedback conversations – periodically held conversations are the best way to find out their needs, opinions and suggestions about the work in the organization, and thus examine the individual level of commitment.
  4. Build the right organizational culture – it is the responsibility of the HR department to ensure that the organization has a friendly atmosphere and that every person employed feels comfortable in their workplace.
  5. Implement tailored benefits to increase motivation – in this regard, HR can either opt for classic solutions (e.g., sports card, health insurance, medical package, training subsidies) or bet on more non-standard options (e.g., extra days off, wellness programs, etc.).
  6. Organize events and team-building meetings – regularly repeated team-building meetings and company events provide an opportunity to improve cooperation between individuals, which has an impact on the performance of daily duties.
  7. Nurture work-life balance – flexible hours and location, the ability to work part-time when needed, an attitude of understanding in case of difficult situations, and enabling hybrid or remote work according to each person’s expectations are just examples of elements through which HR ensures that employees can maintain work-life balance.
Employee engagement

Employee engagement – summary

Changes in the labor market due to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new generation of doing business or being part of it, greater concern for physical and mental health – all these elements could not fail to have an impact on employees’ commitment to their duties. The HR department must be aware of such trends or tendencies in the market and try to notice alarming signals among employed people. Certainly, regular anonymous job satisfaction surveys will be helpful in this regard, helping to examine areas that need support within each team or department. Then you’ll know what measures – such as the techniques we mentioned todays – will ensure a positive change in the behavior of individuals in your team.

Read also: How can HRIS software help boost employee engagement at work?

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Author: Nicole Mankin

HR manager with an excellent ability to build a positive atmosphere and create a valuable environment for employees. She loves to see the potential of talented people and mobilize them to develop.