Employee Engagement Hits New Lows – A Study by Modern Survey

Posted on October 10, 2011.

Data from Study Conducted September 2011

About the Study
Modern Survey began conducting this study in August 2007 to a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. working adults (18+ years old) who match census data in terms of age, gender and region. The most recent iteration, conducted in September 2011, polled 700 U.S. working adults matching the same census criteria. Multiple regression analysis was performed to determine which survey items best predict engagement mean scores – responses to these identified items are most significantly associated with overall engagement.


Overall Analysis
The number of fully engaged employees has dropped to a record low 8%. The number of under engaged employees has risen to a record high of 42%. The cumulative total number of employees either under engaged or disengaged has also reached a new record high of 70%. The total number of employees reporting that they are actively seeking a new employment opportunity at another organization is only 21%. The item most strongly correlated with engagement mean score proved to be “I have confidence in the future of my company/organization. In summary, while many employees appear to be unhappy or uncommitted to their jobs they are not seeking out new opportunities.


Engagement Components
Figure 1 shows the percentage of favorable responses to each of our five engagement index items for the three most recent survey iterations.

Figure 1:

Engagement Index Question Aug. 2010 Feb. 2011 Sept. 2011
Takes pride in company 73% 69% 66%
Intends to stay with company 62% 55% 57%
Goes “above and beyond” 58% 51% 48%
Recommends company 49% 46% 41%
Sees promising future at company 48% 41% 34%










Note – The only engagement item to see an increase in favorable responses was the item, “I intend to stay with my company for a long time,” while the item with the most drastic decrease in favorable responses  was, “I believe I have a promising future at my company.”



Engagement Levels
Based on the rating each respondent gives across our five questions, Modern Survey categorizes respondents into four distinct levels of engagement:

Fully Engaged employees answer at least four of the five questions with the most positive response possible.

Moderately Engaged employees give mostly positive answers.

Under Engaged employees give mostly neutral to mildly positive answers.

Disengaged employees give responses that average below the neutral point.



Predictors of Engagement
The ten items listed in Figure 2 have the highest correlations with engagement mean scores from our February 2011 study.

Figure 2:

Rank Theme Survey Item
1 Confidence in Company I have confidence in the future of my company/organization.
2 Confidence in Company My company is headed in the right direction.
3 Career Development I can grow and develop at my company.
4 Recognition/Appreciation My company treats employees well.
5 Career Development I am satisfied with my opportunity to get a better job in my company.
6 Senior Management I have confidence in my company’s senior management.
7 Senior Management Senior management shows a sincere interest in employee well-being.
8 Quality Emphasis Where I work, we are continually improving the quality of our products/services.
9 Recognition/Appreciation I get enough recognition for the work I do.
10 Clear Values Our values guide how people at my company actually behave.




Looking for New Jobs

Figure 3 represents the percentage of workers that gave each of the possible responses to the survey item, “I am currently looking for a new job at a different organization.”

Figure 3:

% of Workers
Strongly Disagree 32.3%
Disagree 30.6%
Neither 16.6%
Agree 12.4%
Strongly Agree 8.1%









Figure 4 depicts the percentage of workers that agree/disagree with the survey item, “I am currently looking for a new job at a different organization.”

Figure 4:

Engagement Level
Net Agree
Net Disagree
Disengaged 48% 32%
Under Engaged 12% 67%
Moderately Engaged 9% 83%
Fully Engaged 6% 88%







2 Responses to “Employee Engagement Hits New Lows – A Study by Modern Survey”

  1. Kevin says:

    I had a chance to listen to Ryan Estis, he mentioned your research… what I would be interested in is what your reseach shows by age… I realize everyone is over 18 but I think engagment and job security have a relationship to age and years of service.. I would be interested if you have anything in those areas…

  2. […] an effective advocate if he or she doesn’t feel pride. However, Modern Survey finds the opposite: pride in the company has decreased from 73% to 66%, and desire to recommend the company dropped from 49% […]

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