By Luciana Paulise
Employee engagement has been a steady metric since 2000, without sharp ups and downs until 2020, when it surprisingly got to a peak of 40% and now it’s back to 36%. CFO’s look for ways to understand the impact of engagement on business performance.
A report published by Gallup showed that this year, engagement levels had fluctuated more than ever. “The fluctuations were remarkable, though. In early May, employee engagement advanced to a new high of 38% in the U.S. And then, following the killing of George Floyd in late May and subsequent protests and riots, the percentage of engaged employees dropped to 31% as measured from June 1-14. Shortly following that drop, engagement reached another new high — 40% in late June to mid-July. Now, it has dropped back to just slightly above the pre-COVID-19 rate of 36%.”
Still, 36% seems to be the highest value since 2000, with an average of 30% of engaged employees.
Engaged employees are involved in projects and new ideas, enthusiastic and committed to their team. Then there is 14% of actively disengaged employees, while there is 51% of workers are “not engaged,” working but open to looking for other opportunities.
Employee engagement as a predictor of organizational outcome
When comparing top-quartile with bottom-quartile engagement business units and teams, Gallup found median percentage differences of:
- 10% in customer loyalty/engagement
- 23% in profitability
- 18% in productivity
- 18% in turnover for high-turnover companies (those with more than 40% annualized turnover)
- 43% in turnover for low-turnover companies (those with 40% or lower annualized turnover)
- 64% in safety incidents
- 81% in absenteeism
- 58% in patient safety incidents (mortality and falls)
- 41% in quality (defects)
- 66% in wellbeing (thriving employees)
Amid the current crisis, companies are considering different ways to engage their personnel.
UBS is giving non-executive employees an extra week’s pay this year. “As a sign of appreciation for their contribution throughout this challenging year, and acknowledging that the pandemic may have resulted in unexpected financial impact, the Group Executive Board has decided to award UBS’s employees at less senior ranks with a one-time cash payment equivalent to one week’s salary,” the Swiss bank said in a statement announcing its third-quarter results, adding the measure would add roughly $30 million in expenses in the fourth quarter.
Other companies continue promoting working from home, which on top of being a means to reduce Covid-19 cases, seems to be a driver to increase employee engagement. Two other relevant findings in this study are that the drop in engagement was sharper for people working on-site versus at home and for managers compared to executive leaders and individual contributors. Leaders have been one of the most impacted groups during the pandemic, given that they had to adapt their leadership style to drive performance remotely.
Amazon recently announced they would allow workers to stay home until June 2021, similarly to Google, who previously announced they would keep their employees working remotely until July 2021. Twitter and Facebook allowed employees to work remotely indefinitely among other 20 major companies.
The peak at 40% engagement has never been so high, and just in the middle of the global crisis. Companies will have to continue looking for ways to engage their employees, taking advantage of this year’s opportunity to learn more about what matters to them.
This article originally appeared at https://www.forbes.com/sites/lucianapaulise/2020/10/21/how-employee-engagement-fluctuations-impact-company-outcomes-in-covid-19-times/#bedab523d6bf