The 5 Gallup insights you need to know

In Engagement Stats by Lori McKnight

2017 Gallup State of the Workplace Summary

5 insights you need to know

To save you time, we mined all 214 pages of the 2017 Gallup State of the American Workplace report to provide you with the Coles Notes version of the five most insightful findings.

1Almost 70% of US employees are still not engaged

Gallup’s 2017 State of the Workplace Study revealed that overall US Employee Engagement rates have remained relatively unchanged over the past decade.

Not Engaged
Actively Disengaged

Over half of employees (51%) still fit into the “not engaged” group – those most at risk of leaving or becoming actively disengaged.

Business leaders on a cerebral level understand the benefits a more engaged workforce has on key performance indicators. However, there has been too much emphasis on measuring engagement through employee surveys verses improving employee engagement. Employers can’t just invest in measuring. They need to care and follow through on the feedback gleaned from these surveys.

Now what?

Acting on employee surveys can be done formally or informally but regardless of the approach, an action plan is needed. Gallup suggests these 6 steps to help managers/leaders act on their employee survey results.

  • 1Help employees understand what engagement is – why the survey was conducted, what it measures and how it impacts the company and their team.
  • 2Share and explain the survey results.
  • 3Select two or three key areas to work on over the year.
  • 4Discuss the results.
  • 5Brainstorm ways to address key areas and plan for improvement.
  • 6Follow up regularly on the plan, and on how employees are feeling about the team’s progress toward meeting goals.

The Payoff?

The payoff of higher employee engagement is an improvement in many key performance indicators as illustrated below.

When compared to business units in the bottom quartile of engagement, those in the top quartile realize improvements in the following areas:

2017 Gallup State of the Workplace Summary

2 51% of people are looking for jobs or watching for openings

The Good News – people are more confident in finding work now than they were five years ago.

The Bad News – more people are looking for new opportunities. In 2012, 19% of employees polled said it was a good time to look for work. As of the third quarter of 2016, 42% of employees felt this way.

How do you retain top talent?

Money is important to a point but not as important as you might think. Gallup states that people make decisions based on reason and emotion, but are more likely to be led by emotion. Organizations can improve retention by clearly communicating expectations and making employees feel they are making a difference and contributing to the company’s success.

Outside of a salary, can your employees answer this question, “What do I get for working here?”

Related to the above point, 60% of employees say the ability to do what they do best in a role is “very important” to them. Employees of all generations place the greatest importance on this aspect of a job. Managers should focus on strengths when hiring and find roles for employees so they can do what they do best.

Both these points offer no-cost, high impact ways of improving engagement, retention and productivity.

3Just 12% of employees agree that their organization does a great job of onboarding new employees

Employees form an opinion of your organization from the first day. Developing employees into brand ambassadors has a positive effect on culture, recruiting, retention and engagement.

Employees want to be proud of the organization they work for so it’s important for companies to have a great external AND internal brand. The key to this is authenticity. Showcase your values in a way employees can believe, get behind and support. Promoting your customer and employee success stories, charity programs, awards, etc. on your website, social media and Intranet improves your brand image.

Consistently communicating what your organization is doing to be a good corporate citizen helps build a team of brand ambassadors and improves your ability to recruit, onboard and retain top talent not to mention the positive impact on culture and morale.

Helpful tip: Partner new hires with your best employees. These employees serve as your brand ambassadors and can help mentor, answer questions, socialize and model the attitude and behaviors you are striving for in the organization.

4 54% of office workers say they would leave their job for one that offers flexible work time

More companies are offering more work-from-home & flexible working arrangements for their employees, and it’s paying off.

In fact, Gallup’s data shows 43% of employees are working away from team members at least some of the time now compared to 39% in 2012.

Gallup also discovered that the optimal engagement boost occurs when employees spend three to four days in a five-day workweek — working off-site.

Flexibility is also a key to increased engagement. Employees want greater flexibility, autonomy and the ability to lead a better and more balanced life. Little things like allowing staff to leave early for an appointment or to watch a child’s game without taking a vacation day help build a more engaged and productive workforce.

5 Only 3 in 10 U.S. employees strongly agree that in the last seven days they received recognition or praise for doing good work

While this statistic paints a gloomy picture, there have been significant improvements from 2012 as the chart below illustrates.


These improvements can be attributed to more employers viewing recognition as a business strategy. In addition, HR recognition technology including social tools are enabling managers to give more frequent feedback, along with monetary and non-monetary rewards, creating a stronger culture of recognition.

The role of manager has dramatically changed. Great managers need to be more than taskmasters – they need to be coaches who develop and motivate their team. This is not an easy transition. Often managers are promoted into leadership positions because they excelled in their job, not because they have the skills that make a great manager.

An important Gallup finding: Leaders need to address their managers’ engagement needs in the same way managers are expected to address their employees’ needs – providing clear expectations, training and education so managers are well-equipped to be coaches.

Why does all this matter?

  1. Employees who do not feel adequately recognized are two times more likely as those who do feel adequately recognized to quit in the next year (Gallup).
  2. Having more employees receive recognition more regularly is good for your employees and your business.

Improving your recognition ratio to 6 in 10 employees, can result in a:

Gallup 2017 State of the Workplace

Need help putting these engagement insights into practice?

This is the first in a series of research snapshots highlighting how to improve engagement and boost key performance indicators. Stay tuned for more articles.

CSISTARS continually mines the latest recognition and engagement research tailoring our programs to reflect insights and best practices. Demos available.

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Author: Lori McKnight

Lori McKnight
Lori is the VP of Recognition for CSI International Inc. She has a MBA with a minor in Human Resources, is a Certified Recognition Professional and member of the SHRM blog squad. Prior to joining CSI STARS, she worked at Mercer Human Resource Consulting and Youthography, a youth market research agency. Connect with CSI STARS on LinkedIn to learn how we cultivate a workforce that loves coming to work.