8 Surprising Employee Engagement Trends

Posted on November 16, 2015 by Don MacPherson.

Modern Survey recently wrapped up the Fall 2015 U.S. Workforce Employee Engagement Study. In it, we determined how employees feel about their organizations, their leaders, and their individual sense of future at work. The study revealed eight things every HR professional and business leader needs to know about the current mindset of their employees.

1. Engagement dropped slightly. A year ago, Modern Survey saw the level of “fully engaged” employees hit its highest point ever at 16% of the U.S. workforce. Six months ago it dipped to 14% and has since fallen to 13%. “Disengagement” remains stable at 22%, which is the lowest we have seen in the eight years conducting this study and a far cry from the high of 32% in Spring 2013.

2. More people trust their data is secure than trust their senior leaders or direct managers. For the first time,  Modern Survey measured perceptions of data security. We found that 76% of employees said they trust their data (emails, social security number, phone records) at work are secure and 70% said they believe their data outside work are secure. Only 50% said they trust their senior leadership and 67% said they trust their direct managers. Even with the numerous high-profile data breaches, people trust the security of their data over their leadership at work.

3. Personal accomplishment soars in importance. The item “My work gives me a feeling of personal accomplishment” jumped from the 4th strongest driver of engagement in Spring 2015 to the 2nd strongest driver in Fall 2015. That isn’t the only surprise. In the spring, 79% of employees responded favorably to that item compared to only 72% in Fall 2015.

4. Social media use is on the rise. The use of social media by employees to follow their organizations went up significantly between Spring 2015 and Fall 2015. A total of 41% of all U.S. workers follow their organizations on social media…up from 34%. However, only 25% of Baby Boomers follow their organizations compared to 49% and 47% for GenX and Millennials, respectively. Facebook is the most popular platform used with 34% of employees using it to follow their organizations. Twitter is next at 15%.

5. Confidence has never been higher. Even though engagement has fallen in the last year, employees feel more confident about their organizations than ever. The item “My organization is headed in the right direction” had 63% of employees respond favorably which is the highest Modern Survey has found for that item. That is up from a low of 48% in Spring 2013.

6. Personal confidence is high too. The item “There is a promising future for me at my organization” had 52% of employees respond favorably, which is also the highest ever for this item. It is up from a dismal 34% in Fall 2011.

7. In fact, all boats are rising. Well, maybe not all boats, but many. Of the 58 items measured in both Spring 2015 and Fall 2015, 23 improved significantly, 28 stayed within the margin of error, and only 7 declined significantly. In general, employees feel much more satisfied about their organizations, their leaders, and their future opportunities.

8. So why are people looking to leave? Despite higher confidence and satisfaction, more people are willing to move on from their organizations. When asked the item “I am currently looking for a job at another organization,” a stunning 34% agreed or strongly agreed. That is up from 26% in Spring 2015 and 28% in Fall 2014. Why? It likely has to do with falling unemployment causing a tighter job market and more demand, a sense of entitlement that we haven’t seen since 2007, and a belief that we have been a bigger factor in our own demand than simple market forces.


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3 responses to “8 Surprising Employee Engagement Trends”

  1. Kathy Carlson says:

    Awesome summary. These trends really do seem to indicate a shift that is riding the wave of a stronger economy. It will be interesting to watch the war for talent heat up and how the “sense of entitlement” you reference plays out.
    Thanks for all you guys do in the Employee Engagement space.

  2. […] and the statistics surrounding it. According to a Fall 2015 U.S. Workforce Employee Engagement study, even though engagement levels dipped from a year ago, personal confidence at work is high (52%), […]

  3. […] ModernSurvey said this regarding the the job climate. […]

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