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Why Are Employees Less Engaged Than a Year Ago? With Kate Rehling

Why Are Employees Less Engaged Than a Year Ago? With Kate Rehling
Why Are Employees Less Engaged Than a Year Ago? With Kate Rehling

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In this episode, we’re continuing our exploration of ENGAGE 2024: The Company Culture Report by asking the question: “Why are employees less engaged than they were a year ago?”

It’s here that we’ll break down exactly how you can go about stoking the flames of your company campfire to ensure that it’s burning brighter than ever.

And helping this episode shine brighter is Kate Rehling, Talent Analyst/Engagement Specialist here at Up Your Culture.

 

 

Understanding the Decline in Employee Engagement

The conversation started with an acknowledgment of the significant drop in engagement levels compared to the previous year. “So, last year, in our ENGAGE Report, we learned that 77% of respondents reported feeling engaged at work,” Kate says. “But this year, that number dropped to 55%.

“Nearly half are not feeling engaged at work. That's really concerning. And I think there's a couple of reasons for that.”

  • People are Being Pulled Back into the Office: “If employees are being pulled back into the office...they may not be fully bought in,” Kate says. “I couldn't imagine being pulled from home, back into the office without truly understanding the ‘why’ behind it.”
  • Pay: “We're living in a difficult and expensive economy right now, and people probably feel like they've gotten a reduction in pay. Some employees we know haven't gotten a raise since COVID! Previously, if you were feeling disengaged but getting paid well, I could go home and vent. I'm going to hang on for that paycheck. But these tough economic trends are not allowing that disengagement to be masked as much anymore.”

Symptoms of an Employee Engagement Problem

The Impact of Low Employee Engagement

Low employee engagement affects everything,” Kate says. “It affects productivity, it affects revenue, it affects innovation.”

“And one of the worst things is that those employees who are engaged, who are rolling up their sleeves, who are all in? Being around disengaged employees puts them at a higher risk for burnout!

“Your workplace culture has a direct effect on employee engagement. So, I kind of think about it as like a time when you've decided you need to lose weight. And maybe you've never felt that way. If you haven't ever felt that way, congratulations, but I know I felt that way several times in my life.

“Committing to losing weight is like committing to increasing that employee engagement. Making the commitment is one thing, but getting to the root cause of the problem is another.

“To lose weight, you might need to exercise, you might need to change your diet, maybe you need to drink more water. There are so many factors that go into it. And the same can be said for engagement.

“Increasing it involves identifying the areas in your culture that you need to improve and being consistent about improving. Just like weight loss, it takes time. It's not going to happen overnight. It takes 18 to 24 months to really make a difference and move the needle.

“So, it's important to home in on the ‘why’ before some of those scary things start really happening with decreased productivity, decreased revenue, and increased burnout.

Hear Kate’s Full Thoughts in the Episode:

Listen to the full episode to hear all of Kate’s insights around the following takeaways:

  • How disengaged employees can create a higher risk of burnout for their surrounding employees
  • Why the seeds of many engagement issues are planted during a less-than-ideal onboarding experience
  • Lastly, why conducting an annual culture and engagement survey is crucial to uncovering the actionable insights you need to ensure your company's campfire is roaring.

LISTEN NOW: The Culture over Coffee Podcast with Beth Sunshine

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About Author

Brent Tripp
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