Alarming Statistics on Employee Engagement for 2017

When someone asks for a live demonstration of our social recognition software, we first ask them a few questions to get the skinny on how we might be able to help. One of the answers we hear often is that a recent employee engagement survey revealed that people aren’t feeling the love; that morale has hit rock bottom and employees don’t feel appreciated. The frequency of these types of survey results helps explain why employee engagement is the top human resource challenge in the next three to five years. It also reinforces some of the alarming statistics on employee engagement.

Perhaps the most frustrating discovery is that, despite heavy investment in employee engagement solutions, we’re not seeing improvements in performance or in attracting and retaining top talent. We’ve uncovered some new statistics on employee engagement that are alarming:

  • Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. up to $605 billion each year in lost productivity.
  • Moreover, they found that only 33% of U.S. employees are engaged in their job, and slightly more than half of employees (51%) say they are actively looking for a new job or watching for openings.
  • In light of this, Forecasts from Bersin & Associates predict spending on engagement will soon grow to about $1.5 billion per year.

We know there’s a strong business case for employee engagement solutions to not only enhance the employee experience but also improve the economic health of organizations. However, if nearly half of all employees are likely to leave, and if employee engagement is a top business challenge, why aren’t more companies seeing a return on their employee engagement investment?

The status quo appears to be investing in employee engagement programs so that we can check off a box. New corporate wellness program? Check. Self-directed learning options? Check. Social recognition platform? Check. Company rewards program? Check. Yearly volunteer day? Check.

We’re offering these programs to our employees with the belief that their very existence will boost engagement and enhance company culture. It’s a great first step. But, what about the glue that binds all of our best intentions to a world-class employee experience? Are we making sure these employee engagement solutions are linked to employees’ personal goals, values, and dreams? Are these programs enriching their daily lives? Are they creating stronger connections and trust between employees? Are they contributing to employee desire to make a difference and to be part of something bigger than themselves?


The status quo appears to be investing in employee engagement programs so that we can check off a box.

We’ll continue to see mediocre results if we can’t figure out how to match the intangible needs of employees and their experience with the needs and objectives of the company. The upside to nailing this connection is monumental.

Gallup’s State of the Workplace 2017 report reveals some powerful ways in which highly engaged employees contribute to the financial health of their company. These positive statistics on employee engagement reinforce the business case for employee engagement solutions, with high engagement levels associated with:

41% – LOWER Absenteeism
24% – LOWER Turnover (High-Turnover Organizations)
59% – LOWER Turnover (Low-Turnover Organizations)
28% – LESS Shrinkage
70% – FEWER Employee Safety Incidents
58% – FEWER Patient Safety Incidents
40% – FEWER Quality Incidents (Defects)
10% – HIGHER Customer Metrics
17% – HIGHER Productivity
20% – HIGHER Sales
21% – HIGHER Profitability

It should go without saying if the person who works at your company is 100 percent proud of the brand and you give them the tools to do a good job, and they are treated well, they’re going to be happy. If the person who works at your company is not appreciated, they are not going to do things with a smile. Effectively, in the end, shareholders do well, the customers do better, and your staff remains happy.

— Richard Branson

Improve the Statistics on Employee Engagement: Match Employee Needs With Organizational Objectives

Company executives and HR managers recognize the need to keep employees engaged, but the statistics on employee engagement don’t paint a rosy picture. There’s hope. Check out a handful of employee engagement best practices in use today:

    1. If your organization tracks customer loyalty, employee turnover, absenteeism and so forth, you can begin to estimate how much a boost to employee engagement can impact performance and bottom line. For example, one of our transportation customers was experiencing high turnover rates typical in their industry. By connecting various employee engagement solutions to retention and a better employee experience, they retained an additional 146 drivers over the course of a 12-month period. At the cost of $5000 per driver to recruit, onboard, and train, they cut their turnover costs by $730,000.
    2. According to Rand, the average corporate wellness program participation rate hovers around 24%. Bazaarvoice, a technology company with 900+ employees, connects multiple engagement initiatives for an improved employee experience and cost savings for the company. When it comes to their corporate wellness program, they not only offer a diversity of options, but they also reward healthy behaviors like taking a health risk assessment, participating in group fun runs, or committing to an exercise regimen. Employees pick and choose how they want to engage, which in many ways involves connecting with peers. The bonus? A 70% corporate wellness program participation rate, companywide health premium savings, and a long-term health and lifestyle change for one employee in particular. See video below.



  1. A recent survey given to some of the most engaged employees in the world revealed that if companies make it easier for employees to connect both inside and outside of the office, they’ll be more engaged. Consider revisiting your existing employee engagement initiatives to add ways for employees to connect. Examples include group wellness activities, volunteering, skill development, and peer-to-peer recognition. You might also consider team building types of rewards for employees.
  2. People leave managers, not companies. Business executives and managers can see dramatic improvements in employee engagement by listening and recognizing their people more often. The effort pays off in terms of a better employee experience and improved team performance. New York-based software company Return Path discovered that one of their executives that doled out the most cross-departmental recognition also had the highest performing team.
  3. The demographics of your workforce are changing rapidly, and your Millennial employees come to the office with a different set of expectations. There are some basic adjustments you can make to improve their overall experience and productivity. For example, they thrive when given flexibility on where they work, how they dress, and what they choose to learn. Many also prefer experiential rewards (like happy hour, mentoring, or group yoga) over cash rewards.
  4. Your best and brightest employees want to learn and grow within your organization. To boost loyalty and retention, it’s imperative to offer opportunities for career advancement and professional development. By tapping into what enhances the employee experience and intrinsic motivation, consider reinforcing behaviors aligned with skill development. Walmart’s got a cool learning program that addresses associates’ desire to grow and build new skills. Those skills are then transferred back to the organization to improve overall performance.

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