Facts about employee engagement? Here’s one: it’s only about 30%. That means that about 70% of employees are still not engaged at work.

The question is, why? And more importantly, what do you do about it?

Well, the answer to that first question’s not too pretty, but you can’t fix a problem if you don’t know about it, can you?

Here’s 21 scary facts about employee engagement to help you prep for 2016—and how you can take them on:

1. Over a quarter of the workforce believe they don’t have the tools to succeed.

Have you ever tried to trim your hair with garden shears?

I hope not.

Having the wrong tools (or none at all) can be frustrating, time-consuming, or even dangerous. If you want to take care of your employees, then you need to take care of their tools.

Have team leaders sit down with their teams and talk about supplies and training needed to complete a project or a daily task.

Is there anything they consistently need that is always missing, broken, or out of stock? Are there new items that would make doing their jobs simpler? Is there a skill or procedure that everyone handles differently—or that some people don’t really grasp yet?

Make adjustments to the budget to suit teams’ actual needs, and not just expected ones.

2. 70% of employees say their organization should understand them as well as employees are expected to understand customers, but only 43% feel understood.

How well do you know your employees?

Encourage team leaders to ask their teams about their experience with the company, their goals for the future, their concerns, the dream projects they would love to be a part of.

It may help to create an anonymous channel where employees can submit questions, concerns, and comments about their experiences at work—just be sure to address them, or employees may feel that you may care more about the appearance of listening than actually taking step to improve company culture.

3. 88% of employees don’t have passion for their work.

Okay, you can’t really make someone passionate.

But you can try to figure out why they aren’t and go from there.

Here’s where to start:

  • Talk to them. Ask them what they used to like about their job. What changed? What do they want to do differently now? Ask about dream projects, educational opportunities, and conferences they might want to get involved with. If you work together, you may be able to find a way to spark their interest again.
  • Offer time for side projects. Not all companies are keen on this, especially if the side projects are completely unrelated to work, but giving your employees breaks to work on things they care about in their field can help remind them why they do what they do—and why they work for you.
  • Create learning opportunities. If your employees are interested in further developing their skills, give them a chance to take part in a webinar or workshop that teaches them something new. This breaks up the same ol’ routine, and might just pique their curiosity about coding, preservation methods, or photo editing again.

4. 66% of employees believe that their managers do not care about their personal lives.

This does not mean friendship bracelets are in order.

You don’t need to be BFFs with your employees, but people don’t like to be treated like resources when, you know, they’re people.

Encourage your managers to ask their team members about their lives outside of work. It can be as simple as “Any fun plans this weekend?” or “Seen any good movies lately?”

And don’t let it stop there.

Managers should continue the conversation and follow up with employees. Have them ask how the beach was, or if their mom is doing better now that she’s out of the hospital.

If this is difficult, managers can share about their own life first, so employees feel like it’s okay to open up about personal things at work.

5. Employee engagement tends to flatline or stagnate after 5 years of being at the same company.

And like in any other relationship, there are some things you need to keep doing to keep it to keep talent engaged:

  • Talk with them. Don’t just let your long-term employees fade into the background. Encourage team leaders to take some extra time to talk with these employees, to find out where they’re at with their career goals or if they’re not sure what they want to do next. Let them know you haven’t forgotten about them.
  • Invest in them. Sure they may be more skilled than some of your newer employees, but you can always learn something new. Survey them about their interests and what kinds of opportunities they might like to have. Invite them to go to conferences, workshops, and classes that can build on the solid skills they already have.
  • Encourage them to flourish. They’re experienced, so as long as they’re qualified why not let them head up an interesting project if they’re interested? Give them something to get excited about, a new idea to play with, a chance to work with an important account, an interesting problem to solve.=

6. 66% of employees don’t see strong opportunities for professional growth in their current role.

Don’t cut their potential cut short.

When you bring in new employees, talk to them about their career goals. What are they reaching for?

Have them talk with their manager about this and come up with some short-term and long-term goals to help them improve.

Even better, put together a mentorship program, where interested employees can sign up to meet regularly with someone else in their field, talk about their work, and strengthen their skills.

Eventually, those employees will be able to do the same for new employees who share their same interests and work.

7. Only 6% of HR and business leaders believe that their current process for managing performance is worth the time.

If this is you, remember this:

Management accounts for 70% of change in engagement levels. What you do (or don’t do) makes a big difference.

But . . . if you just don’t like your process, we should talk about changing that. Here are some ideas:

  • Gamification. If you want immediate feedback on employee performance, think about incorporating game elements into the work environment. While not all “games” are equal, some can measure things like efficiency, task completion, and more, giving you and your employees feedback in real-time.
  • Schedule regular feedback sessions. A yearly review may be important, but it would be more helpful to communicate performance expectations regularly, so employees always know where things are at—and what needs to change. You could set up quarterly or monthly appointments (whatever works for you) to help keep everyone in the loop.
  • Clearly communicate standards. In and outside of your meetings with employees, make sure to clarify what is expected of their performance. Encourage them to ask questions about expectations, and ask them what their expectations are of you, too.

8. 89% of employers think their employees leave for more money, but money is the reason for only 12% of them.

So what about the other 88%?

If your company doesn’t do exit interviews, it might be a good idea to start doing them.

Yeah, it might be awkward, and you might hear some things you don’t like, but you could also learn a lot about where the company needs to improve the most.

You might even start to see a trend.

And if you know what the problem is, you can fix it.

9. Workgroups that are less engaged and have low well-being have a turnover rate 48% higher than average.

Take care of your employees by helping them take care of their health.

If you can’t offer employees a gym (or gym time) or a series of workshops on wellness, start with something everyone needs: food.

Three-fourths of employees want access to healthier eating options at work, so if you have a company cafeteria, take a good look at what your serving. And don’t stop at “healthy” vs. “unhealthy.”

Do you have vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options? Can someone who has dietary restrictions still eat there? Are items labeled well, so employees with allergies know what they should avoid?

10. 50% of adults work 40+ hours a week (80% would like to work fewer hours)

Life is a balancing act.

But it’s kind of hard to balance if you’re putting all your energy into one area, like work.

Obviously, if you can let your employees cut back on hours, that’ll solve the problem.

But not everyone can do that. One suggestion I would give?

Ban work outside of work. Discourage employees from taking work home, making work-related phone calls at home, or using their email when they’re off-duty. If you need to, make it an official policy, or only allow connection to the company intranet while on campus. Let them reclaim life outside out the office as actual life outside the office.

11. Only 18% of those currently in management roles demonstrate a high level of talent for managing others

The first solution is obvious: hire people who are talented at managing others.

They could be the top-dog in their field, but if their management skills are horrible, don’t promote them to a management position. Easy.

The second solution?

Train them. Management skills may come naturally for some people, but that doesn’t mean those skills can’t be learned by anyone else—or that the naturals can’t improve.

Offer managers regular opportunities to participate in training and workshops that help enhance communications and personal skills.

And if you need to, you can even require that managers meet a certain level of training each year.

12. Only 28% of Millennials feel that their current organizations are making “full use” of the skills they have to offer.

Communication is key here.

When managers meet with employees, have them ask employees about the different skills they have, whether they seem related to work or not.

Are there any skills they’d like to bring to the table that no one knows they have?

Part of this, too, is just having team leaders get to know their employees on a day-to-day basis, asking about their hobbies and interests.

You never know what you’ll find out, or how it might come in handy.

For example, an employee who works at a local history center and has a background in audio can apply those skills to recording oral histories—but you might never know about that skill unless you got to know that employee.

13. 75% of HR and business leaders are having trouble attracting and recruiting the people they really need.

Give your employees a voice.

Yes, you should work on your online presence and offer new employees good incentives, but employees have something your website and benefits packages don’t have.

They’re people who choose to work for you.

Offer training programs on how to use the company’s social media accounts, and let them speak for you.

Who knows better about why a job is great than someone who already does it?

14. 90% of leaders think an engagement strategy would have an impact on their company—but barely 25% of them have a strategy.

Thinking about fixing a problem is not the same as fixing it.

But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, here are three things you can do to get started.

  • Send out a survey. Don’t make it too long—you don’t want to spend months analyzing this thing—but write something up that can give you a feel for what exactly needs fixing.
  • Pick a focus. You probably can’t do everything you want to do, because of time, because of funds, who knows. So pick one major area that needs work, and start there. Develop 3-5 specific goals to help you take care of this problem.
  • Get continual feedback. Send out pulse surveys regularly to keep tabs on how engagement levels are faring, and to see if what you’re doing is working or not. Have team leaders meet with their teams, and then meet with the leaders. If something’s not working, change course.

15. One in five employees are not confident their manager will provide regular, constructive feedback.

Okay, guys. Good feedback is important.

With it, employees know how they’re doing, what works for everyone, what doesn’t, etc. There’s chances to learn, change, and develop skills.

Without solid feedback, there can be a lot of guesswork and confusion, as employees try to figure out what their bosses want from them.

Let’s avoid that. Train your management to:

  • Pull employees aside and ask them how they’re doing. Have team leaders check in regularly with employees to talk about their current projects and give them some direction if they need it.
  • Be specific. Saying “that could have been better,” gets your feelings across, but “next time, save them as PDFs instead,” explains what could be better. Same thing with encouraging feedback. Don’t just tell employees they’re doing well–tell them what they’re doing well.

Encourage and challenge. Every manager is different. Some will be more inclined to compliment, and some will offer more critique. Employees need both, so push your team leaders to note team members’ strengths, and to offer solutions for working on their weaknesses.

16. Only 40% of the workforce knows their company’s goals, strategies, and tactics.


How can everyone work well together if 60% of employees aren’t on the same page?

True, this might not be your problem—but you have to find out. Survey your employees and ask them to define and explain your company’s mission and game plan. Their answers will tell you where the situation’s at.

If there seems to be a problem, sit down with team leaders to make sure they’re all on the same page. Talk about company goals, the plan for the year, etc. Answer any questions or concerns they have.

Then have them go do the same for their teams.

Bonus: Encourage team leaders to update their teams weekly on the status of company and team goals—and how they’re contributing.

17. Two-thirds of today’s employees are feeling “overwhelmed.”

Here are two ways to cut back on some of that stress:

  • Offer support. Some employees are more independent, sure, but if you’re assigning an employee a task they’re not familiar with, provide training and offer to answer any questions they have—or direct them to someone who can.
  • Don’t load them up with last-minute tasks. The key phrase here is “load them up.” Yes, sometimes it can’t be helped. Things happen, and someone has to do a task right now. But try not to make this a habit—and don’t keep dumping tasks on the same person again and again.

18. Only 35% of US managers are engaged in their jobs.

This is unfortunate, since engaged managers are vital for driving employee engagement.

Be sure to include management when you’re developing a plan for employee engagement.

Send out surveys specifically for managers, provide them with the resources and training they need, and if you manage managers, don’t micromanage them by constantly “borrowing” their employees.

Let them do the job they were hired to do.

19. 30% of employees report a lack of supervisor support.

How do your managers handle new ideas?

While rejection can be damaging, so can throwing ideas back at the people who came up with them.

I.e., telling someone who makes a suggestion, “Great, why don’t you make that happen?”

If the employee was just trying to offer some insight into a problem, then their manager had just turned that insight into a burden for that employee to bear—and bear alone.

Instead, listen to ideas (even if you might reject them), and say, “What should we do to make that happen?”

20. 75% of people who voluntarily leave their company quit their bosses, not their job.

This isn’t really a shocker.

You may love what you do, but who you do it with can make or break the experience.

Include satisfaction with management when you regularly survey employees. Keep tabs on how your team leaders are doing.

And when you see a potential problem area, talk with that manager about your concerns.

21. Only 10% of companies have a major work simplification program.

Having to learn 100+ steps for one process would be stressful.

Especially if some of those steps aren’t all that necessary.

Streamlining your company’s procedures may be a good idea, not only to reduce stress for employees, but to cut out unneeded steps and save everyone some time.

It’s time to cut that red tape.

Stay Strong

Those stats may be bad, but they can change.

And now that you know the stats, you can change them.

This year, employee engagement reached the highest level it’s been at in 3 years.

Sounds like a challenge to me.

Are you game?

What are you doing to counter bad news about engagement? I’d love to hear your thoughts!