What’s the state of employee engagement in 2019?

Well, you’re about to find out.

You may have noticed that we try our best to include the most up-to-date and legitimate statistics in our blog posts. So when we got the opportunity to partner with HR.com on a survey of our own, you know that we jumped at the chance!

We pushed the survey, called The State of Employee Engagement, live in the first quarter of 2019. It gathered some great responses, with a majority of participants responding to every question! A good turnout, we think. ?

Some other details include:

  • The majority of respondents are HR professionals based in the United States
  • The participants represent a broad cross-section of employers, ranging from small businesses (under 50 employees) to enterprise businesses (20,000 or more employees)
  • Just over 40% of respondents represent organizations with 500 or more employees

So without further ado, let’s dive into our findings.

Major Finding One: Many organizations still struggle with employee engagement.

The good news: attaining high levels of employee engagement is still top-of-mind for many HR departments. The bad news: it continues to be a focus seemingly because many employers still need substantial help in this area. ?

Luckily, the rest of the report covers what organizations can do to boost those engagement numbers! 

Key findings:

  • Only 44% of respondents strongly agree or agree that employees in their organization give discretionary effort, defined as “an employee’s willingness to give his or her best at work.”
  • Most participants believe that fewer than 70% of their employees are engaged. This is particularly noticeable in mid-sized organizations, where only 14% report that more than 70% of their workforce is engaged.

Major Finding Two: More than 80% of respondents say that trust in leadership makes the biggest difference in employee engagement.

Upper management still has a stronghold on employee engagement. There shouldn’t be any surprise here—leaders are the primary drivers of company culture. When organizational leaders—including direct supervisors—aren’t trusted, it has a significant impact on morale and engagement of the whole organization.

However, we also see a trend where a majority of HR professionals think their organization’s leaders could do a better job of prioritizing employee engagement. With the rest of the statistics in this report, leaders should clearly see that they risk a competitive advantage if this trend continues. ?

Key findings:

  • More than anything else, leadership and the immediate supervisor drive employee engagement. Over 80% of HR professionals link engagement to trust in leaders.
  • Overall, only 29% of all HR professionals say their organizations have leaders who prioritize engagement.
  • Highly engaged organizations are three times as likely to have senior leaders who prioritize employee engagement, when compared to organizations with lower engagement.
  • Respondents from highly engaged organizations are much more likely to instill good leadership behaviors, compared to those who are less engaged: 58% versus 33%.
  • HR professionals are most likely to view immediate supervisors and leaders as being responsible for engagement, and only 33% suggest HR has a very high degree of responsibility for engagement.

Major Finding Three: Frequent measurement, better employee recognition, greater career growth opportunities, and more HR involvement are all factors that can contribute to increased employee engagement.

Now, let’s dig into what you can do to drive improved engagement at your company. This includes taking frequent pulse surveys, recognizing your employees, and providing opportunities for growth. ?

Key findings:

  • Highly engaged organizations are more likely than other organizations to measure engagement, and they are more likely to measure it more than once a year.
  • Highly engaged organizations are far more likely to recognize employees for a job well done. While 71% of highly engaged organizations recognize employees for a job well done, the same is true for only 41% of less engaged organizations.
  • Providing career growth opportunities is a major differentiator between highly engaged organizations and others. Only 15% of less engaged organizations provide career growth opportunities to a high or very high degree, compared to 44% of highly engaged organizations.
  • HR is more likely to be strongly involved in employee engagement initiatives in highly engaged organizations. HR is highly or very highly involved in employee engagement in about three-quarters of highly engaged organizations, compared to about half in other organizations.

Major Finding Four: Hurrah! More than 90% of respondents believe employee engagement is closely linked to overall company performance.

It’s always nice to have a hypothesis confirmed. Employee engagement levels are viewed as being directly linked to company performance. Next time your leadership team questions the ROI of employee engagement and recognition programs, you know where to point them. ?

Key findings:

  • Over 90% believe there is solid evidence linking engagement to performance, and they believe it has the strongest impact on customer service and productivity.
  • Highly engaged organizations are more than twice as likely to report being top financial performers in their industries.

And that’s just scratching the surface. 

You’ll find a plethora of useful statistics in the State of Employee Engagement in 2019 report, since the ones we listed above are only the highest-level findings!


For a detailed analysis and even more statistics about of the state of employee engagement in 2019, go ahead and grab the report: