How to Address the Employee Engagement Crisis

A number of factors are contributing to workers becoming more detached these days. Here are some remedies to consider.

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Recent employee engagement statistics depict a worrisome trend. Employees everywhere are more detached from the workplace than ever, apathetic about their jobs and about their employers. For example, Gallup’s State of the Workplace study for 2021 (considered to be the gold standard for employee engagement research) found that a paltry 15% of employees are actively engaged with their work.

For employers, this is hardly a minor concern. Declining engagement can adversely impact employers in a number of ways, even eroding the bottom line. For instance, estimates show that low engagement costs U.S. employers close to $500 billion each year as a result of absenteeism and turnover.

For small-business owners, there are a couple obvious questions here. One, where did this problem come from? And two, what are some practical ways to address it?

The Causes of Low Engagement

Within any specific workplace, there may be a number of particular causes for low engagement. A poor work culture, bad management, or industry-specific problems should all be considered.

But on a broader level, there are a few factors that have impacted all businesses, particularly during the pandemic. Examples include:

  • Employees increasingly distracted by external crises, whether the pandemic, political unrest, war abroad, etc.
  • Disengagement and a feeling of disconnection, particularly in companies that have shifted to remote work.
  • A lack of novelty, as many employees are increasingly called up to specialize in a particular area rather than developing broad skill sets.
  • Boredom and apathy as more and more roles are automated, leading to down time or a sense of aimlessness.

Responding to Low Engagement

Your company cannot single-handedly reverse these trends, but there are nevertheless some specific strategies you can deploy to keep your own engagement numbers high. Recommendations include:

  • Conduct surveys. Interviews and anonymous surveys offer a couple benefits. One, you can gain a better understanding of how engaged your employees are and what specific issues need to be addressed. And two, it helps your employees know that you actually care about them and want to hear what they think.
  • Host team-building events. With more and more employees feeling disconnected from one another, planning some hangouts or bonding activities (ideally during normal work hours) can be helpful.
  • Provide cross-training opportunities. If possible, allow employees to experience some variety in their day-to-day work, rather than feeling like they’re just repeating the same basic tasks day in and day out.
  • Focus on professional development. Training, education, and skills formation are all great ways to engage your employees.
  • Seek feedback. Be clear in saying that you genuinely want to hear feedback and constructive criticism, and that employees can voice concerns to you without needing to fear retribution.

The bottom line? Employee engagement is in crisis, and that’s a pretty big deal. But even if the big-picture trends are concerning, there are simple and practical ways for your business to engage with employees. Be sure this is something that’s on your radar during the months to come.

About the Author

Amanda E. Clark is the president and editor-in-chief of Grammar Chic, a full-service professional writing company. She is a published ghostwriter and editor, and she's currently under contract with literary agencies in Malibu, California and Dublin. Since founding Grammar Chic in 2008, Clark, along with her team of skilled professional writers, has offered expertise to clients in the creative, business and academic fields. The company accepts a wide range of projects; often engages in content and social media marketing; and drafts resumes, press releases, web content, marketing materials and ghostwritten creative pieces. Contact Clark at


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