Employee engagement figures dip in U.S. workplace

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American employees are expressing lower levels of engagement with management for the first time in five years, according to an annual survey conducted by Aon Hewitt.

After a steady rise in worker connection with their jobs and management, the annual “Trends in Global Employee Engagement Study” conducted by the consulting firm found that 63% of U.S. workers said they were not engaged at work, a figure that also matches respondents around the globe. This U.S. figure decreased from 65% in 2015. On the other hand, 24% of U.S. employees reported that they are “highly engaged” and 39% are “moderately engaged.”

Although U.S. numbers are flat compared to other global regions — employees in Asia expressed the highest disengagement numbers — the drop of satisfaction could hide some of the volatility in the American workplace. For example, “rewards and recognition” figures dipped 1%, engagement with senior leadership dropped 2% and performance management plunged 7%.

“[The U.S. numbers were] relatively flat (compared to the prior year) and we saw it drop a point. You see that and say things are more stable in the U.S. than globally, but we know from working with clients that there is a fair amount of volatility,” says Chris Adair, consultant of Aon Hewitt. Aon profiled more than 1,000 organizations around the globe and measured responses from more than 5 million employees.

“The new research we have done says engagement might be dropping in 2017. This time next year we would not be surprised to see engagement dropping in the U.S.,” he says.

The Aon Hewitt study measures employee engagement what they call a “say, stay, strive” model. Employees are asked if they say positive things about their employer, if they intend to stay at their organization for a long time, and if they are motivated to strive to give their best efforts to help the company succeed. In the survey, employees are also asked: “Are your leaders appropriately visible?” “Do they fill you with excitement for the future?” and “Do they provide a clear direction?”

“Within the U.S., we see a larger drop in areas and this could be seen as a precursor to job hopping and [negative] perceptions of senior leadership and fair pay,” says Adair. “We are seeing an expectation shift in the U.S. Employees expect to have more clarity around ‘where are we going as a company’ and ‘how do I fit into that future.’”

See also: Employee engagement critical to overall company success

“We measure intentions to stay in the organization, and those numbers dropped,” Adair says. “While there may be some job hopping, we see that employees who are valued by their managers will be more likely to stay at that job.”

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