Since 2007 Modern Survey has been releasing the results of their annual State of Engagement survey in the Fall, and since it’s pretty much the only large-scale engagement study released in Q4, it is extremely helpful in giving organizations an idea of workforce attitudes heading into the New Year. This year’s report is no different, and identifies three key trends that will be very helpful when planning your 2015 engagement strategy:
1 – Overall engagement is increasing.
The number of “fully engaged” employees in the workforce (16%) is higher than it’s ever been, and the number of “fully disengaged” employees has fallen to an all-time low (22%). There are twice as many fully engaged employees now as there were in Fall 2011, and disengagement has been on a steady decline since Spring 2013. Modern Survey credits declining unemployment and a rebounding job market for the surge in satisfied employees.
2 – But… employees are more likely to be looking for new jobs
The percentage of employees who said they are currently on the job-hunt has risen from 23% to 28% in just 18 months, and the number of “fully engaged” employees—the ones that can normally be counted on to stay with their employers—looking to leave increased alarmingly from 15% to 24% in the last year, due to increased confidence in the job market. The study warns that in our current “kinetic” economy, conventional wisdom seems to not apply, e.g. high engagement may not necessarily equal high retention.
3 – Gen-Y is engaged, but still restless
When polled for generational preferences, the study found that Gen-Y workers are more engaged and more loyal than their Gen-X and Boomer counterparts, and the number of Gen-Y employees who report planning to stay with their employer for 2 years or less has dropped from 47% to 35% since last year. However, more than half (52%) of all employees considering leaving for new jobs identify themselves as Gen-Y, a decidedly overwhelming margin. Gen-Y is willing to engage, but savvy enough to look elsewhere to advance their careers in a strong labor market.
All signs point to 2015 being a year of uncertainty for engagement as the economy continues to rebound and employees become more empowered and agile. Gen-Y employees now account for half of all workers around the globe, but still haven’t quite settled into leadership roles, making it difficult to predict their behavior. Now is the time to double retention efforts, engage younger employees early, and ask your employees directly what you can do to make them happy.