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Employee Engagement Research Report: Gallup Study of the State of the Global Workplace 2022

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I was reading a recent Gallup report on the state of the global workplace and employee engagement. They stated “If we spend so much of life at work, how is life at work going? According to the world’s workers, not well. Gallup finds 60% of people are emotionally detached at work and 19% are miserable.” I hope that you already know that if your employees are engaged, your company will see increased retention, productivity, safety and profitability. Overall, the numbers point to a big drop between 2019 and 2020 and a slight regain in 2021. As I read through the report, every chart showed the same large drop during 2020.

Stressed workers – the COVID-19 effect

For those in my personal circle, I have noted that stress has continued to rise since COVID-19 hit us in 2020. I have been calling it the post-covid effect. It feels like we supported and engaged each other early in the crisis. However, the stresses have continued to grow. It may be because the death rate continued to haunt us. COVID-19 deaths by the end of 2020 were 1.9M and in 2021 were 3.5M. It may be that the new ways we do work, such as zoom, are contributing to our stress.  

Gallup found that engagement was rising in 2019 and fell in 2020 and 2021 was up 1%, but still below the 2019 high mark. The regional statistics shows that New Zealand and Australia were up by 6 points and Europe was down by 5 points. Overall Canada and the U.S. have the highest engagement numbers.

I am not the only who identified a post-COVID-19 effect.  A recent study by Florida State University found altered personality traits in younger adults. This is an interesting longitudinal study that followed 7,109 people over time. They surveyed prior to COVID in 2014 to Feb. 2020. The second survey was during March to December 2020. The last survey was later in 2021 and 2022. Overall, the study found that young adults’ personality was affected during COVID. They found declines in extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.

Why are people so miserable at work?

Why are so many people miserable at work? The answer Gallup found was “unfair treatment at work”. Workers also stated, “unmanageable workload, unclear communication from managers, lack of manager support and unreasonable time pressure.”  The findings point to the problem of having a bad boss.

Bosses need to be better listeners to improve employee engagement.

Many direct selling companies are listed in the DSN’s Best Places to Work. However, all direct selling companies can do things that can help with employee engagement. Managers need to be “better listeners, coaches and collaborators.” This seems simple. How hard can it be to get managers to listen. Well, it is as hard to get managers to listen as it is to get anyone to listen. We all think we listen. The reality is that listening is hard work. We can’t just parrot back what we hear our employees saying. We need to take their ideas into account when we make policies and procedures. Listening well takes empathy.

The listening must take place in a safe environment. If there are ramifications for speaking up, obviously employees will hold back what might be the most important information because it is negative, and they fear punishment.

The best way to get candid feedback is to have a relationship with the employee outside of the formal feedback process. Having casual conversations at the water cooler help to build trust and connection. I work from home now. Getting time for the casual talk seems harder to do. We do a little chit chat at the beginning of meetings. But that can almost feel forced because we know that the purpose of the meeting is going to come up sooner or later. The meeting wasn’t just to make a connection. Companies need to get creative to create time to connect.

What else can a company do to improve employee engagement?

Gallup also found that flexibility at work has been found to help worker engagement. The key is to match the worker with how they want to work. Some like to work remotely and others like to work in an office setting. Some like a blended approach to work. Of those whose work is remote capable, “60% want a long-term hybrid work arrangement”. If you go back to 2019, 60% of remote capable workers worked on site. Now 50% work hybrid office and remote work. Find out how your employees want to work and try to accommodate those differences in style.

Conclusion

Employee engagement is key to running a successful company. Many researchers have looked at employee engagement. The nice part about the Gallup report is that the sample is worldwide, and they report the data by region and by country. Because Gallup has been reporting on employee engagement for many years, the data presents an opportunity to see how COVID-19 may have influenced the workers worldwide.

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