Employees form the foundation of a thriving workplace. Under ideal circumstances, they bring more than just their time and skills to work – they also contribute their enthusiasm and commitment. For employees to feel engaged and do their best work, employers must build a workplace experience that fosters both passion and purpose.
To better understand how businesses can engage and inspire employees, we examined Culture Amp’s 2023 engagement survey benchmark data, containing responses to over 94 million questions from 5,000 organizations across various industries. While our benchmark found that an impressive 72% of employees say they are engaged, there’s still work to do. In this article, we’ll explore the data in more detail and explain how your business can use these insights to ward off disengagement and build deeper connections with employees.
Why is employee disengagement bad?
Engaged employees are more likely to go above and beyond in their roles, embrace creativity, and find meaning in their work. Disengaged employees, on the other hand, may just go through the motions and do the bare minimum. Of course, employees can’t give 110% every day, but sustained levels of disengagement can cost your business.
In fact, employees who lack engagement are more likely to experience:
Decreased productivity: Disengaged employees are often less motivated to perform at their best and are more likely to embrace “quiet quitting.” This can lead to lower productivity levels and a decline in work quality.
Toxic negativity: Disengaged employees are more likely to be negative in the workplace and resistant to change. While Culture Amp’s benchmark data shows that 86% of employees say they are proud to work for their company, the remaining 14% who disagree may contribute to a less positive work environment. Their discontent has the potential to spread among colleagues, adversely impacting team dynamics and morale.
Increased absenteeism: Unengaged employees may also be more likely to miss work. These individuals aren’t necessarily playing hooky; they may need the extra time off because of physical and mental hardship caused by conditions like burnout, depression, and anxiety.
Increased turnover: If disengaged employees don’t feel your organization meets their needs, they may seek employment elsewhere. This should be a cause for concern, as turnover comes with high costs – up to 30% to 200% of the departing person’s salary.
To remotivate these individuals, your business must actively address the root causes of disengagement. In the next section, we’ll discuss the many ways your business can help reignite your employees’ passion for their roles and your organization.
How to engage employees and reinvigorate their passion for work
Many factors shape engagement, giving your business ample opportunities to foster positive connections with employees. Unsure where to focus your attention? Below, you’ll find a short guide to engaging employees. Of course, every business is different, so listen to your employees and invest in the areas that make the most sense for your needs.
1. Encourage leaders to be open and honest
Your organization’s leaders shape the employee experience at your company. From setting culture from the top down to communicating business goals to creating a positive work environment, business leaders set examples that inspire and instill confidence in employees.
And it appears most companies are choosing and training leaders effectively. Culture Amp data shows that 77% of employees have confidence in their company’s leaders. To keep this confidence, encourage your company’s leaders to be honest and embrace transparency.
Wondering why this matters? Many modern employees want to feel like they’re part of a business’s journey – and that means being present for both the successes and the challenges. Employees understand that the last few years have been difficult for many companies. They want leaders to be frank about business performance and share how the company can get back on track to achieve its goals. If you want to engage employees, encourage your leaders to communicate openly and honestly with their teams.
2. Recognize employees
Employees want to feel like more than a number, especially as layoffs continue to make headlines. Luckily, business leaders seem to be doing a good job of showing employees how much they mean to them. In fact, 74% of employees say that their company’s leaders demonstrate that people are important to its success.
How can leaders and businesses show employees how much they matter? Consider starting with recognizing individual contributions and thanking employees personally.
Regular recognition can help employees feel seen and valued by their manager, team, department, and even the company at large. You don’t need pricey rewards to show your thanks either – a simple shout-out during a team meeting lets employees know you see and appreciate their great work.
3. Invest in professional development
The key to any lasting relationship lies in each party’s ability to see a successful future together. For employees, this often means picturing their career growing within a company.
While 3 in 5 employees believe there are good career opportunities at their current company, businesses can still improve in this area. From increasing the visibility of growth opportunities with career development frameworks to training managers on creating career development plans with employees, your business can prove it’s invested in employees’ long-term growth and career advancement.
Plus, investing in professional development can strengthen your business’ connection with employees and drive better business results. Culture Amp's people scientists have found that companies that prioritize employee development experience 24% more company growth, 46% higher engagement for employees whose skills are being developed in line with interests, and an average performance rating increase of 30% for employees with solid development plans. Investing in career development can also improve retention, as Culture Amp’s research shows that employees without access to consistent development opportunities are two times more likely to leave within a year.
4. Give employees meaningful work
Meaningful work is a powerful catalyst for employee engagement. When employees understand how their contributions connect to larger organizational goals, they can find purpose in their work and feel more motivated to succeed. And according to Culture Amp data, an impressive 85% of employees say they feel their current work is worthwhile.
Of course, meaningful work looks different for every individual. One way to help employees pursue the areas they find most meaningful is through passion projects. By giving individuals some choice in the projects they work on, your business can let employees explore their strengths, find purpose in their work, and make an impact they’re proud of. This enhances employee engagement while contributing to a more vibrant and successful workplace culture.
5. Provide the right systems and resources
Employees can only fulfill their responsibilities and meet their goals if they have access to the right systems and resources. Leaving employees under-equipped can result in lower productivity, performance, efficiency, and job satisfaction – all factors that may ultimately push them to leave your business.
To set employees up for success, ensure they have all the tools to perform their roles. In Culture Amp’s benchmark report, 82% of employees said they know how to request additional resources they need to work remotely. Still, employee needs are always evolving. If your business has remote and hybrid workers, make sure they can easily access what they need and request to have new tools added to your tech stack.
6. Listen to employees
This one is especially valuable: Listen to your employees. Every organization is different, so the best way to drive engagement often starts with explicitly asking your employees what they want to change.
Employee surveys allow your business to collect quantitative and qualitative feedback that can give you a deeper understanding of what it’s like to work at your company. Your team can then use this information to design impactful engagement initiatives that engage your employees and make them excited to show up to work.
Just know that engagement is a moving target. Your business will need to conduct regular employee surveys and update its action plans to keep up with changing employee needs and keep employees engaged long-term. Of course, these surveys can also help you develop your internal survey benchmark data that you can use to track trends and identify opportunities to boost engagement.
Engaging employees with Culture Amp
With so many factors shaping employee engagement, it can be challenging to know where to focus your efforts to drive improvement. Luckily, using an employee experience platform like Culture Amp, your business can gain visibility into your people data so you can make effective decisions that put your people first.
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