What 750 Stats Tell Us About Engagement, Satisfaction and Work

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Nov 2, 2016

Every day it seems as if there’s a new research report or survey published about employee engagement and retention, or benefits, or what constitutes an effective workplace. Each one promises a hot new revelation or breakthrough that you can use to get your own office revved up and dialed in.

Combing through all of those to find the useful nuggets for your workplace is a mighty task. Good luck trying to keep up!

So two years ago, we at Access Perks started compiling the stats coming out of this research deluge. And not just a few stats – we wanted to curate every relevant piece of data we could get our hands on, and share it with the world.

Today, what we call the “Ultimate Collection” of employee engagement and loyalty stats holds over 750 pieces of data, with more added weekly. Over the course of two years spent sorting through the numbers, we’ve found recurring themes that illustrate a few major shifts and changes in the modern workforce.

Here are five takeaways (with supporting data and links to original sources) that nearly every piece of research seems to agree on:

Managers matter more than ever

“People don’t quit jobs, they quit managers” isn’t just a nice saying. There’s a lot of data behind it:

  • Employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged (Gallup)
  • 80% of those dissatisfied with their managers are also disengaged from their employers (Dale Carnegie)
  • 50% of US adults have left their job to get away from their manager (Gallup)

That data doesn’t look promising. And it might be getting worse. It seems more managers are disengaging, and plenty are looking to parachute out of their employers.

  • Just 35% of U.S. managers are engaged, while 51% are not engaged (Gallup)
  • 68% of employees say their managers aren’t actively engaged in their career development (Right Management)
  • 42% of managers are currently looking for jobs with other organizations (Modern Survey)

Disengaged managers can obviously do serious damage to a team. But when a manager is tuned-in to their team and their employer, the gains are tremendous:

  • Employees who believe their managers can name their strengths are 71% more likely to feel engaged and energized (The VIA Institute on Character)
  • 67% of employees who strongly agree that their manager focuses on their strengths or positive characteristics are engaged (Gallup)

Most people become managers because they’re great at a core competence – sales, marketing, coding, and so on. It usually isn’t because they’re great leaders. Companies need to invest more into the leadership aspects of management, which will improve overall team morale and performance.

Benefits outweigh salary

That might sound a little crazy. But the impact of benefits may be more powerful than you think – and it’s growing.

We put a few numbers together using publicly-available figures like average income and taxes. When out-of-pocket health premiums and deductibles are factored in, Americans are taking home 10% less than they were in 2006 — 25% less after accounting for inflation!

A more generous health benefits plan can add thousands of dollars back into employee pockets. It’s not salary, but it’s still money in their pockets. Easier said than done, right?

Here’s a silver lining: people are willing to trade hard compensation for other benefits, primarily flexibility:

  • More than one-third of employees would change companies for an employer that embraces flexible work (Unify)
  • 73% of working adults agree that flexibility is one of the most important factors they consider when looking for a new job (Mom Corps)
  • 62% of employees would leave a job for better benefits (
  • 79% of employees would prefer new or additional benefits to a pay increase (Glassdoor)

That being said, don’t use this as an excuse to skimp on salary. Pay your people what they’re worth, but also be sure to communicate the value of your benefits as well.

The (true) vacation may be dead

Nobody is taking vacations anymore. Or at least, taking as much time as they’ve earned:

  • 41% of employees did not plan to use all their paid time in 2014 (US Travel Association)
  • 41% of Americans didn’t take a single vacation day in 2015 (Skift)
  • 15% of Americans said they haven’t been on vacation in 7 to 12 months and 10% said it has been 4 to 6 months, with 16% saying they have been on vacation within the last 3 months (Allianz)

And when we say “true” vacation, we mean time spent actually unplugged from work:

  • 61% of Americans work while they’re on vacation despite repeated complaints from members of their family (Glassdoor)
  • 46% of employees say they worry about work while on vacation (Randstad)
  • 46% of employees respond to emails while taking PTO; 29% return calls from work (US Travel Association)

American work culture has convinced most employees that the spoils go to the person who works the hardest and longest. Whether or not that’s true, most managers don’t discourage it. They should, however, because studies show that people respond well to time away.

A “hands-off” vacation or after-hours policy could be a major boost to your employee benefits, and it wouldn’t cost a dime. Even better, your employees will be appreciative and refreshed.

Most people are just happy enough

Most people feel okay about their workplaces. To them it’s enough just to be employed, earning a paycheck and staying off the chopping block. But don’t confuse satisfaction with engagement. They’re not the same.

  • 86% of employees say they’re at least somewhat happy with their jobs, 43% are very happy, just 4% very unhappy (Staples)
  • 92% of employees said that they are at least “somewhat happy” (Spherion)
  • 77% of US employees say they’re satisfied with their workplace (EdenRed)

Most people are simply filling a role for a paycheck.

Is that a bad thing? Probably not. Every team needs role players that are content to do a few simple things very well.

Employee engagement is a competitive advantage

Maybe somewhere back in the day it was enough to just have warm bodies in seats. Some industries are still content to keep a revolving cast of low wage-earning employees because it keeps costs down.

Times have changed for everyone else. Consumers have more choices than ever, and it only takes one bad experience to chase them away. Those bad interactions could come from customer service, the product itself, or even just a casual encounter with an employee online.

Engaged employees are the human embodiment of your brand. They have a personal connection to their work and the work of the company. They care as much as the top executives — even more so, in some cases.

As such, they’re going to expect more of themselves and push the company forward, regardless of their position. This pays off in a better all-around experience for customers.

  • Customer retention rates are 18% higher on average when employees are highly engaged (Cvent)
  • Organizations that have over 50% employee engagement retain over 80% of their customers (Demand Metric)
  • Employee engagement programs can increase profits by $2,400 per employee per year (Workplace Research Foundation)
  • Higher workplace engagement leads to 37% lower absenteeism, 41% fewer safety incidents, and 41% fewer quality defects (Gallup)

As the keepers of corporate culture, HR is no longer simply a “cost center.” You have a say in who is hired, how people are managed, in-house growth opportunities, benefits, and so much more. We have clear evidence that those tie directly back to profitability.

And every executive loves profitability. We don’t have a stat for that, but we’d guess it’s close to 100%.

People, not humans

If there’s one big takeaway from two years and 750+ stats, it’s this: Companies aren’t made up of buildings, products, or websites. They’re comprised of people working together toward the same goals.

The more investment you can make into the people in your company, the more your business stands to benefit in measurable areas like revenue and retention.

That means fair compensation, competitive benefits, opportunities for growth, and the ability to try, fail, and try again. It means recognition, personal relationships, and compassion.

In other words, the things people need to be happy and inspired at work and everywhere else. The things that lead people to become engaged and personally invested in what their company is doing.

After all, if the people who are paid to care about your brand don’t, why should anyone else?

If your company has completed research or surveys in the areas of employee engagement, loyalty, benefits, or workplace satisfaction, please let us know here. We’d love to include it!

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