Don’t let the ‘Great Recession’ obscure engagement

While companies adjust to the ‘new normal’ economic climate, their focus on employee engagement may have been supplanted, but it should remain at the top of the agenda.

Don’t let the ‘Great Recession’ obscure engagement

In the wake of the ‘Great Recession’, business leaders may have asked themselves whether employee engagement continues to impact business outcomes in tough economic times as it does in a more temperate climate. The answer, according to Gallup’s recent research, appears to be ‘yes’.

Meta-analysis that Gallup conducted in 2012, involving 1.4 million employees of almost 200 organisations across 34 countries, demonstrates that there is a strong correlation between employee engagement and business success in any economic climate. “Even during difficult economic times, employee engagement is an important competitive differentiator for organizations,” a company press release stated.

According to Gallup’s analysis, when financial, customer, retention, safety, quality, shrinkage, and absenteeism metrics are taken into consideration:


  • Those business units that register in the top half of their organisation for employee engagement are nearly twice as likely to succeed.
  • Those in the 99th percentile for employee engagement are four times as likely to succeed as those in the first percentile.

Looking more specifically at particular outcomes, Gallup found that employee engagement affects nine of these. When compared with those business units in the bottom quartile, those in the top quartile have:


  • 37% lower absenteeism
  • 25% lower turnover in high-turnover organisations
  • 65% lower turnover in low-turnover organisations
  • 28% less shrinkage
  • 48% fewer safety incidents
  • 41% fewer patient safety incidents
  • 41% fewer quality incidents
  • 10% higher customer metrics
  • 21% higher productivity
  • 22% higher profitability

The value of employee engagement is generally accepted, but this research demonstrates that even in the straightened climate of a recession business leaders should retain focus on engagement to improve business outcomes, and it as a point of differentiation. “The current meta-analysis confirms what Gallup has seen with all earlier meta-analyses: Employee engagement consistently affects key performance outcomes, regardless of the organization, industry, or country.”

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