September 20, 2016 – Seventy one percent of the U.S. workforce is engaged, according to new analysis by the Hay Group division of Korn Ferry. The comprehensive analysis is based on engagement surveys from 139 companies and 1.3 million U.S. employees across 15 industries. Engaged employees, the theory goes, are those completely committed to whatever goal or mission a company is working towards.
When considering specific industries, consumer goods, insurance, and financial services industries rank highest, with an average of 74 percent of respondents engaged. The communications field and consumer services (e.g. retail, hospitality, leisure) also ranked high on the list at 72 percent each.
The high technology industry is at the bottom of the engagement index, with only 64 percent of employees engaged. Also ranking low on the engagement scale are life sciences at 66 percent and public sector / not-for-profit at 67 percent.
“Full time U.S. employees work nearly 50 hours a week – equivalent to almost six working days,” said Mark Royal, senior principal, Korn Ferry Hay Group. “When you consider that nearly a third of employees are not engaged, that’s a lot of time wasted for both those employees and their employers who are not getting the full impact of their potential.”
Additional Korn Ferry Hay Group research demonstrates that an engaged workforce has a significant impact on the bottom line, boosting revenue growth up to two and a half times, depending on the level of engagement.
“Many factors go into creating a culture of engagement, including empowering and developing employees to make a meaningful impact on the success of the organization,” said Mr. Royal. “When this happens, employees will stay on the job and be productive, and their employers will reap the benefits.”
American Workers Desire ‘Long Term Relationship’
The Korn Ferry Hay Group composite engagement scores are based on responses to several questions, including: “Given your choice, how long would you plan to continue working for the company?” Perhaps surprisingly, the largest percentage (64 percent) of employees across industries said “more than five years.” By contrast, just 18 percent of employees said they plan on staying two years or less.
Consumer goods and industrial goods are the two industries with the highest percentage of employees who responded that they would stay on the job more than five years at 74 percent each. Consumer services and communications are the two industries with the lowest percentages, with 51 percent and 54 percent respectively.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, the average U.S. employee stays on the job an average of 4.6 years.
Ways to Improve Employee Engagement
“Leaders who are successful in keeping their best people will need to foster a positive view of future company prospects and opportunities for individual growth and development, focus on structuring work environments to support employees’ success in their roles and leverage employee input to promote high levels of effectiveness, and reinforce the balance between what employees contribute and what they get back from the organization in return,” said Mr. Royal.
A separate Korn Ferry study shows a critical need exists to improve employee engagement. The survey found that across all leadership levels an average of only 36 percent of employees are “highly engaged.” The report also found that leveraging a social responsibility agenda to develop leaders can help reverse this trend.
The vast majority (87 percent) of respondents say that linking an organization’s social responsibility efforts to leadership development has a positive impact on overall engagement and performance. Unfortunately, only 59 percent of respondents say their organizations actually do link the two.
“Real leadership development doesn’t happen in the classroom. That just sets the stage,” said Keith Halperin, senior partner of Hay Group. “The real development happens on the job, and in today’s world employees are looking for organizations that are giving back to the community. Where there’s purpose, there’s a sense of meaning. There’s a sense of value. Opportunities to give back and serve are perfect places to develop leadership.”
Tapping into an organization’s social responsibility platform is critically important to attracting, developing and retaining top talent, said Noah Rabinowitz, senior partner and global head of KF Hay Group’s leadership development practice. “It provides a source of natural inspiration for people that is tied to the broader mission and purpose of an organization.”
According to Mr. Rabinowitz, solid social responsibility programs are a boon for an organization’s overall brand. “Authentic initiatives create a distinct and positive identity for companies with their customers, suppliers, distributors, investors and other stakeholders,” he said.
With corporate social responsibility initiatives gaining traction, some progressive companies are going beyond volunteerism, linking profitability with social responsibility and embedding these goals in their core mission statements.
“The world has changed. It isn’t good enough to just make a profit anymore,” said Rick Lash, senior partner of Hay Group. “Done for the right reasons, a focus on purpose and social responsibility has a lasting impact on each and every person who comes in contact with your organization.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media