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Apr 29, 2022
This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.

US engagement levels slump

Recent rises in the proportion of workers declaring themselves to be ‘engaged’ at work have gone into reverse according to latest research from Gallup. Data it has just released finds employee engagement in the U.S. saw its first annual decline in a decade – dropping from 36% of employees being engaged in 2020 to 34% in 2021. Moreover, this trend has continued into the early part of 2022 too, falling to 32%. At the same time, some 17% of employees are ‘actively disengaged’ – an increase of one percentage point compared to 2021. The engagement elements that declined the most from 2021 to 2022 were employees’ level of agreement that they have clear expectations; that they have the right materials and equipment; and that they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day. There were also falls around feeling connected to the mission or purpose of their organization. Gallup also found an eight-point decline in the percentage of employees who are extremely satisfied with their organization as a place to work. Interestingly, staff working exclusively remote or hybrid had higher levels of engagement (37% engaged in both groups) than those who work exclusively on-site (29% engaged).

Two-fifths of US employees want to quit in the next few months

Research published by Benefits Canada shows the shocking extent to which Americans loathe their jobs. It quotes data which finds 42% of U.S employees indicate they are likely to leave their jobs in the next 3-6 months. Employees who said they were most likely to quit their job cited having a poor work-life balance, and not being able to focus on their own work as factors that have been negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Amongst these employees, 20% said their company hadn’t introduced measures to improve retention over the last year. When asked what factors would influence their decision to stay at their job (besides salary or benefits), 28% cited access to their direct manager; 25% said being with their team/department colleagues more, while 23% identified company leaders/mentorship as being important. More than 40% of employees said they aren’t able to easily interact with leaders across their company.

California Bill aims to protect workers from secret surveillance

Working from home has seen a parallel rise in employer surveillance technology, that replaces managers walking past desks with analytics on workers’ keystrokes, mouse movements and screen activity. But newly introduced California legislation could put restrictions to this in place. California Assembly member Ash Kalra has introduced the Workplace Technology Accountability Act that would require employers to tell workers that their data is being collected. “There’s no doubt that technology has proven to be a very good thing in terms of productivity, efficiency, and data collection,” Kalra told Fortune. “However, employers have also been using technology to overreach.” Kalra added: “The time is right for us to really do a deep dive and figure out how to properly regulate the use of technology in the workplace.” The California Chamber of Commerce and other business interest groups were opposed the bill when it was introduced in committee.

Biden marks ‘Second Chance Month’ by announcing paths to employment money for ex-prisoners

To coincide with ‘Second Chance Month’, the Biden administration has pledged to invest $145 million to provide job skills training and individualized employment and reentry plans for people incarcerated in Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities. The aim is to provide better pathways for a more seamless transition of ex-offenders into employment upon release. To support this, new regulations have also been proposed that remove barriers to federal employment for formerly incarcerated individuals under the bipartisan Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act. These regulations will expand the number positions covered by the federal government’s “ban the box” policy, which delays inquiries into an applicant’s criminal history once a conditional job offer has been made. Each year more than 600,000 individuals leave prison, but one of the biggest hurdles they face is trying to find employment.

Club Med workers lament bizarre working conditions

An investigation by Pivot, published by PressProgress, has revealed the extent to which Club Med employees – or Gracious Organizers (GOs) – are expected to hang out with guests, including everything from long working hours, mandatory participation in cocktail hours, and the requirement that they dine with the clients. According to the report, a schedule sent out to GOs read: “Remember that your role as a GO is first and foremost to connect with our GMs (guests) … Some of you are playing the game and others not so much. Take this week to correct this if you are in the latter…” On the same schedule, it said that at 20:30 and 20:50, activities are indicated as “AGO” (‘All GOs’). This means they are compulsory, according to sources that contacted Pivot. It quotes one worker, Chantale, who said Club Med: “dominates you through fear.” Olivier Rozier, Club Med’s human resources director for North America and the Caribbean is quoted as saying “Forcing people to eat with clients when they don’t want to makes no sense. These interactions [with clients] are based on a genuine relationship.

Forbes publishes America’s best companies for diversity list

Forbes’ annual ‘Best Employers For Diversity’ list has been published, with the 500-company league table featuring a higher proportion of companies in banking & financial services, the healthcare and social sector, and education. This year companies in these sectors comprised 8% of the list compared to 6% last year. Analysis of the list by Statista finds 16% of companies had women CEOs, and 31% had executive leadership and board positions filled by women. More than 55% had an executive leadership positions with the explicit task of promoting diversity and inclusion. Progressive Insurance and technology company, VMware, were ranked first and second, respectively. Progressive’s DEI related efforts include a “Dare to Disagree” diversity workshop, while VMware has won acclaim for its efforts around disability inclusion.

Poor employee mental health is worsening company performance

Research published this week by The Hartford – a provider of compensation and disability insurance, has found 34% of U.S. workers report feeling depressed or anxious at least once per week – up from 20% in 2020. And this, finds the research, is now hurting company performance. Some 71% of employees said their deteriorating mental health is having a negative financial impact on their performance. Worryingly, it also found that just when need for better support for employees has been at its highest, Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), wellness benefits, and addiction treatment programs being offered by employers ‘fell’ between 2020 to 2022. Around 54% of employers offered an EAP in March 2020, compared to 30% in February 2022. “Our data shows an undeniable, direct correlation between employee mental well-being, mental health support, and the impact to a company’s bottom line,” said The Hartford’s Chairman and CEO, Christopher Swift.

Voluntary staff turnover predicted to jump 20% this year

In what is likely to send shivers down many an HRD’s spine, Gartner is predicting that U.S. voluntary turnover is likely to jump nearly 20% this year, from a pre-pandemic annual average of 31.9 million employees quitting their jobs to 37.4 million quitting in 2022. It argues staff expectations not being met, plus hybrid working are likely to be the two largest factors contributing most to this. In numerical terms, this increase means employers with a workforce of 25,000 people can expect to lose an extra 1,000 more staff than they would normally anticipate. Said Piers Hudson, senior director in the Gartner HR practice: “An individual organization with a turnover rate of 20% before the pandemic could face a turnover rate as high as 24% in 2022 and the years to come.” According to Gartner, the pandemic has caused nearly seven in 10 employees to rethink the role of work in their lives.


This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.