About half of workers are not fully engaged in their jobs, according to a study conducted by Gallup. This means they are only doing the minimum required to get by – not good for employers. This drop in employee engagement has happened two years in a row. But why?
There is a growing number of workers who feel disengaged and resentful because their needs are not being met. Some of these workers are unhappy because they are not being paid well or have to work long hours, while others have lost trust in their employers.
Jim Harter, the chief workplace scientist at Gallup and the main author of the report, said that employers are not connecting well with their employees. This lack of connection is partly due to workers having unclear expectations from their managers.
Worker frustration has been increasing since 2021, after reaching a record high level of engagement in 2020, as measured by Gallup. In the spring and summer of 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic was spreading and there was social unrest following the murder of George Floyd, many companies held meetings and sessions with their employees to communicate the organization's mission and strengthen workplace relationships. It’s important to continue these types of meetings even if there is no major social event occurring.
Now this year, many companies want their employees to come back to the office because bosses are worried about productivity and loyalty. Shocking, being that productivity and engagement reached a high in 2020 – a time when many workers were remote.
A survey by the Conference Board in November found that some of the happiest workers are those who changed jobs during the pandemic and those who can work from home at least part of the time. The Conference Board also discovered that people's happiness has increased in recent years because their salaries went up and they found jobs that suited them better.
Gallup's findings are coming at a time when many workers are protesting against going back to the office as companies change their policies from the pandemic. Workers at Farmers Group, an insurance company, are calling for unionization and some have threatened to quit after the new CEO said most employees would have to be in the office three days a week. Amazon.com workers recently demonstrated during lunch against a hybrid work policy that requires three days in the office.
Many employees see the shift away from flexible schedules and remote work options as a sign that executives don't trust them to do their jobs outside of the office. Some people say the benefits of remote work they experienced during the pandemic, like spending more time with family and avoiding commutes, are now crucial for their happiness. Companies that are requiring more in-office work are trying to increase loyalty and engagement, which they believe leads to longer employee retention, according to Katy George, a senior partner and chief people officer at McKinsey & Co. But it just might have the opposite effect.
Source: Wall Street Journal