Don’t Let Low Employee Engagement Drag Down Your Bottom Line

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Mike Prokopeak  for Talent Management magazine. To check out all the resources and sign up for a free subscription to the TM and/or Chief Learning Officer magazines published by MedfiaTec, please click here.

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Improved communication and creative career development opportunities can turn the rising tide of employee discontent and boost results.

The 2008 recession hit many organizations like a giant wave, swamping them in a rising tide of red ink that led to deep budget cuts and legions of job losses. On the positive side, it also buoyed employee engagement as remaining workers battened down the hatches and focused on rebuilding and boosting productivity.

But as the recession’s wave slowly recedes, it threatens to drag that higher engagement with it. Employee engagement has dropped significantly and remains mired at dangerously low levels, according to an analysis conducted by Aon Hewitt, a human resources consulting firm. Organizations’ financial results could drown in the process.

The Ebb of Employee Engagement

At the height of the recession in 2009, engagement increased to relatively high levels, said Dan Rubin, Aon Hewitt’s employee engagement practice leader. Many employees were simply grateful to have a job as they watched friends and colleagues lose theirs, and their employers did a relatively good job of communicating about the challenges they all faced. It’s been a different story since.

At the end of 2011, the firm analyzed its employee engagement database of 5,700 employers, representing a total of 5 million employees. Employees were asked if they would recommend their employer to a friend, whether or not they intend to stay and how motivated they are to give extra effort. Organizations whose employees score above the 65 percent range — meaning they respond more positively — tend to deliver 22 percent higher shareholder return than their underperforming counterparts.

According to Aon Hewitt’s analysis, engagement levels were parked around 56 percent in 2011, approximately the same as 2010 and lower than 2009 (60 percent) and 2008 (57 percent).

“As the recession drags on, employees are becoming increasingly challenged by how to continue to get by with fewer people doing the same work and they’re really looking for the light at the end of the tunnel,” Rubin said.

With aggregated engagement scores floundering well below the 65 percent tipping point, it’s apparent that many organizations are treading water and could see shareholder return wash out to sea along with employees’ overall positivity.

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To read the complete article, please click here.

You may also wish to check out two related articles:

Defining Engagement

The Why (and How) of Employee Engagement

Mike Prokopeak is editorial director at Talent Management magazine. He can be reached at

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