17 October 2022 |

Your employees aren’t engaged

By Hebba Youssef

We all know how the math works: engaged employees = higher productivity = more profitable company. 

Not to make this all about the profits, but why the f**k else do companies employ people? It’s not to build a “family”, it’s to make money. And, if employees enjoy their work then making that money feels a little bit better inside… 

But, corporate America might be in trouble because employee engagement decreased for the first time in over a decade

Soooo, who are we blaming today? 

JK, no one! 

What’s changing the landscape:

What is happening:

  • Generational makeup in the workplace has changed 
  • We haven’t figured out this shift to hybrid/remote work
  • We’re recovering from surviving a global pandemic 

GEN Z emerges: 

New to the workplace, Gen Z has been challenging the norms around hustle culture, what to expect from your employer, and work life balance. 

Hybrid work is tough: 

We’ve been trained to think work happens IN an office. The last twoish years we’ve tried to retrain our minds and behaviors about work happening outside the office. It’s been difficult for companies to make that pivot. 

Global pandemic survivors: 

Um, hi we survived a global pandemic? A lot of folks are rethinking life and questioning, is this email really life or death? It’s not.  

Please hesitate to contact me.

If you don’t believe me, here are some fun stats from Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2022:

  • 60% of people are emotionally detached at work 
  • 19% are miserable (yes you read that right: miserable!)
  • 33% of people report being engaged 
  • Employee stress is at an all time high (In the US 50% of employees report being stressed)

So yeah, no wonder engagement went down. 

Why engagement matters:

If the average employee is not engaged, miserable and stressed what impact does that have on companies?

Well… a big impact actually!

Gallup classifies engagement into 3 buckets:

  • Engaged
  • Not engaged
  • Actively disengaged 

Not engaged / actively disengaged employees:

  • Are less productive 
  • Prefer the status quo / lack innovation 
  • Complain rather than provide solutions
  • Have negative attitudes towards company/mission/vision

Did a name pop into your head while reading those bullets? Yup, you absolutely know someone who is not engaged or actively disengaged. 

Employee engagement being down during a time where a lot of companies are focused on cost is interesting. See, you can cut headcount, freeze backfilled roles, and roll back spending but what are you doing about engagement?

Because, employees who are not engaged or actively disengaged cost 7.8 trillion dollars in lost productivity. 

You read that right! 7.8 TRILLION DOLLARS. Woof. 

3 tips for how to improve your employee engagement:

Employee engagement is not just the HR/People team’s jobs. 

That’s what most companies get wrong about engagement. They think oh, our HR/People team will plan something fun and our employees will be engaged!

Wrong. There’s so much more that goes into engagement. 

Here are 3 tips to improve employee engagement:

Survey your employees. How are you going to know how your employees feel if you don’t ask?

But the worst thing to do is to survey and not do anything about the results. 

Once you do a survey, make a plan:

  • Where are you going to focus your efforts? (on certain teams or specific elements of engagement) 
  • How are you going to improve engagement?
  • What are you going to communicate to employees about this effort?
  • How are your managers going to be involved? 

Tip: Gallup has a great tool and system for doing this! 

Train your managers. I am still the same woman, standing in front of corporate America begging it to train managers! Most managers need to learn how to be great managers and that doesn’t happen overnight.

I know far too many companies that don’t do formal new manager training or even general manager training! I share this because I think it’s one of the biggest problems in corporate America today: lack of training and development for managers.

Let’s start with something simple, do your employees know what is expected from them at work? 

Spoiler alert: nearly half of US employees don’t.  And guess who is responsible for doing that? 


So start there! Hold a training on expectation setting. Here’s an easy outline:  

  • How to determine expectations as a manager 
  • How to set expectations as a manager
  • How to communicate expectations 
  • How to follow up on expectations 

This resource is full of great advice on expectation setting! 

Onboard your employees correctly. The first 90 days are the most important days for a new hire. It’s make or break! 

Onboarding has shown to have an impact on employee retention and you guessed it, engagement!

Design an onboarding experience that gives the employee:

  • An understanding of the culture, mission, vision 
  • Connection to their manager, team, and employees
  • An understanding of what success look like – cough expectation setting cough

There’s so much more I want to say on onboarding which is why it’s going to be my topic next week. CLIFFHANGER. This CW show delivers. 
To be continued…