Employee engagement trends to watch: New research recaps the state of engagement last year and identifies 4 key drivers for 2024

by | Mar 1, 2024 | Public Relations

The manager/employee dynamic has never been so complex. A combination of factors over the last few years has leaders walking on hot coals in their employee relationships—including the unwillingness of staffers to fully give up the flexibility they were given during the pandemic, a more activated society in the wake of events like the George Floyd murder, and the brash new generation of workers that came of age during and after COVID that has higher expectations of their companies and leaders to address societal issues such as climate change, as well as mentor them in an ongoing manner. What shifts will we see this year?

New research from employee survey and feedback provider People Element details the drivers of employee engagement and shares insights on how to inspire employees and improve performance. Its 2024 Employee Engagement Report draws insights from feedback gathered from tens of thousands of employees across various industries, including more than 400 organizations. Findings are contextualized against economic, societal and workforce trends to reveal shifts in employee engagement from prior years.

employee engagement

2023 employee engagement levels by quarter

The report details the three categories most correlated with employee engagement in 2023: 

  • feeling heard and valued, 
  • opportunities for growth, and 
  • trust and confidence in leadership.

“Given the constant change in workplaces and the emergence of new generations in the workforce, it is crucial to understand the factors that drive employee engagement. I hope that this report can serve as a useful tool to help you make positive changes that will lead to a highly engaged workforce,” said Chris Coberly, People Element CEO, in a news release.

In 2023, engagement levels dropped back to pre-pandemic levels with 56 percent of employees engaged and 44 percent disengaged or what some may consider “quiet quitting.” When compared with 2020 peak engagement levels at 61 percent, employees are feeling significantly less engaged and less satisfied with their organizations year over year. Since 2020, the percentage of actively disengaged employees has increased by two percentage points.

employee engagement

Key workplace trends predicted to impact engagement in 2024:

Hybrid workplaces are here to stay

Data shows that 52 percent of employees are currently operating in a hybrid environment, with most required to be at the office 2-3 days a week. Eight out of ten Fortune 500 CHROs say they do not have plans for decreasing work flexibility in the next 12 months.

Employee stress levels are increasing

Nearly 70 percent of people surveyed said they were experiencing burnout, with the highest levels among Gen Z and Millennials.

Economic uncertainty remains a concern

The United Nations predicts a drop in the U.S. GDP and a decrease in consumer spending in 2024.

“AI anxiety” is a growing concern

More than two-thirds (71 percent) of employees say they are concerned about AI, and nearly half (48 percent) are more concerned today than they were a year ago.

Download the full report here.

employee engagement

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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