One of the best snapshots of the state of engagement and satisfaction across the world’s workforces has just been released, with the 2023 Gallup report published today. Subtitled “The voice of the world’s employees”, it really does make for fascinating (and sometimes worrying) reading.
You can view detailed results and download the full report for free from here. What follows are some of the headline statistics and my initial musings on the report’s findings.
The first area of focus for the survey is engagement. And the results are pretty devastating.
Just 23% of workers worldwide are engaged and “thriving at work”. The lowest figure across the globe is for Europe, with just 13% are thriving at work. That’s less than half that of the USA, Canada and South Asia, amongst others.
It gets worse, UK readers. The figure for the UK is just 10%. Please just let that sink in before moving on.
As a result, around the world, 59% of workers are “quiet quitting”. In Europe, that figure is a whopping 72%. Quiet quitting is defined in the report as follows:
“These employees are filling a seat and watching the clock. They put in the minimum effort required, and they are psychologically disconnected from their employer. Although they are minimally productive, they are more likely to be stressed and burnt out than engaged workers because they feel lost and disconnected from their workplace.”
The remaining 18% (worldwide) are “actively disengaged” and “loud quitting”. That’s nearly one on five of our people actively harming the organisation or opposing its vision, values and goals.
A huge amount of engagement comes down to communication. To be fully engaged, and to feel a true sense of belonging, employees need to know and understand their employer's purpose, vision, and values. These days, it is simply not enough for most people to simply turn up, “do the day job”, log-off, and wait to get paid. Instead, we all want to know how our work is of value and how we are contributing to our employer's success. This gives us a sense of purpose, meaning, and relevance.
Similarly, most employees want to know how their employer is performing, even if that news isn’t great. This gives us trust and confidence in our leadership teams. We also need to feel connected to the business and to our colleagues, regardless of our ways of working, base location, or shift patterns. Just as importantly, we need to feel that our voices are heard and that our feedback is taken on board. Finally, we need to receive regular and meaningful feedback on -and recognition for- the work we do and the contributions we make.
Stress and wellbeing
Stress remains at a record high, with 44% of respondents claiming they felt a lot of stress the previous day. This is slightly lower in the UK at 38%, but that’s still over a third of our workforce!
We know that, post-pandemic, many people started to re-evaluate their lives, their priorities, and their futures. Employers who want to retain their talent need to consider wellbeing of their people much more carefully and proactively. The blended working patterns that have emerged have offered some respite for some people from daily commutes, but they have also blurred the boundaries between home and work. All too often now, the demands and stresses of work are crossing over into our home lives, and work hours are bleeding into our downtime.
Unfortunately, a mistake made by too many small to medium-sized employers is that programmes or initiatives that seek to enhance employee wellbeing are the exclusive realm of only the largest businesses. There is a misguided belief that employees of smaller firms do not expect such “luxuries”. But whether they expect it or not is almost irrelevant. Wellbeing initiatives can decrease absenteeism, boost productivity, spark creativity, and enhance collaboration and interpersonal relationships. It is, therefore, reckless to overlook these opportunities to attract the best talent and to keep them. And, in a time when job openings in the UK are outnumbering those seeking work, unhappy employees have something of an upper hand when it comes to trading you in for a better offer.
Once again, communication is crucial in managing and maintaining our people’s wellbeing. A culture of open, two-way communication will result in teams with faith and trust in their leadership, confidence in the business, and an alignment with the business’s purpose, strategy and values. Despite this, CIPD’s Good Work Index, which has been measuring the UK’s experiences at work since 2018, reported last year that a third of employees defined their manager as being poor at keeping them informed about management decisions. Nothing makes us feel less valued than being kept in the dark about the things that affect our work lives and our futures. An up-to-date, robust and detailed internal comms plan should address all of these pressure points, to ensure that no employees feel left out, in the dark, uninformed or disengaged.
53% of employees feel that now is a good time to find a new job where they live. This is, predictably, a huge rise from the previous two years when the pandemic was limiting everyone’s options!
What this means is that just over half of respondents (51%) said they are “watching for or actively seeking a new job”. That figure is better in the UK, at 36%, and it has improved from 40% last year. However, how many leaders can be comfortable in the knowledge that over a third of their workers are checking the jobs pages along with their work emails?
I’ve written before about the so-called “great resignation”. What is clear is that there is nothing great about this for employers who do not seriously focus on and prioritise the experiences of their people.
When asked what employees would change about their workplace to make it better, the single highest scoring category was “engagement or culture”, with 41% citing this. Compare that with a lesser 28% who plumped for pay and benefits, even during a global cost of living crisis. According to the report, engagement and culture included recognition at work, more approachable leaders, increased autonomy for workers, and clearer goals and stronger guidance.
Whilst many of these stat's make for worrying reading, much of the associated risk to employers can be mitigated with some carefully considered tweaks to business culture and employee experience. The best place to start with this tweaking is almost always with communication. Communication and engagement are as intrinsically linked as disengagement and resignation. And if you think you need some help, support or inspiration, we'd love to hear from you.