64% of HR professionals feel engagement has fallen or remained static in past year

employee engagement levelsTwo-thirds (64%) of UK HR professionals feel employee engagement levels in their organisations have either remained static or worsened over the past 12 months, according to research by WorkBuzz.

The employee engagement firm’s State of employee engagement report 2023/24, which is based on insights from more than 400 UK HR professionals, found that just 36% of respondents thought employee engagement had improved.

One-quarter (24%) said engagement in their organisations had declined, up from 18% a year ago. Just 17% of organisations have used regular pulse surveys to temperature check employee sentiment on a monthly or quarterly basis, down from 33% in 2022.

When asked what their top HR priorities were, respondents ranked retention first (36%), followed by employee wellbeing (29%) and recruitment (28%). Retention and employee wellbeing are both higher priorities this year, rising two and five places respectively since 2022. Employee engagement and experience (25%), and culture (23%) also ranked in the top 10.

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Steven Frost, chief executive officer at WorkBuzz, said: “After much progress since the pandemic, there’s been a worrying backwards step in terms of employee engagement and active listening over the past 12 months. Against a backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis, organisations are focusing on shorter-term and harder business outcomes such as retention, performance and productivity. Plus, organisations seem to be listening to their employees less frequently. This is counterintuitive of course, because when employees feel listened to, they are more likely to stay in their jobs for longer and be high-performing.

“The only sustainable way to retain great people that choose to go the extra mile is by creating a thriving culture. Neglecting the employee voice risks undermining this, especially in a rapidly changing world with evolving employee expectations and a wave of new AI-technology. When times are tough, it’s crucial to spend more time rather than less time listening to employees as they’ll often provide the answers to [an] organisation’s toughest business challenges.”