Employee Engagement Has Plummeted

September 8, 2020 by

Here Are The Three Main Reasons Why.


Covid-19 has forced most organizations to adapt to changing work environments, while trying to sustain healthy levels of employee engagement.  It has not been easy.


In early May of this year, Gallup reported that employee engagement had reached an all-time high (38%).  Yet only a month later, Gallup reported that employee engagement recorded the most significant drop since they began measuring the metric in 2000, plummeting to only 31% of employees being engaged.


Gallup defines “Engaged Workers” as those that are highly involved in, passionate about, and committed to, their work and workplace.


Interestingly, Gallup’s research also discovered that the largest drop in engagement occurred among people in management or leadership positions, as well as minority populations and those with Democratic or Independent political affiliations.


In fact, on August 22, 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported that the pandemic has had an especially devastating effect on workers in the service and retail sectors.  Examples include janitors, cashiers, construction laborers, and secretaries.  Sadly, these people are disproportionately minorities and women, populations which were already burdened with low pay and limited/no wealth even before Covid-19 hit.


There are three main factors that caused the steep drop in employee engagement:


  1. The Killing Of George Floyd.


This terrible event enlightened the world to social injustice like never before.  It also catapulted a new social movement for diversity and inclusion.  However, many employers have yet to adequately respond to this social injustice, consequently leaving their employees disappointed, disengagement, and likely to begin looking for employment elsewhere.



  1. Previously Laid-off Employees Beginning To Return To Work.


The May Gallup study also revealed that employees who had been furloughed exhibited lower engagement levels than employees who remained employed.  Hence, as these employees are now returning to the workforce, they are bringing their disengagement with them.



  1. Uncertainty, As Well As Poor Communication By Employers, Leaders, And Managers.


Even though the pandemic thrust hundreds of millions of people into remote work, the lion’s share of employers are simply “winging it.”  Few are proactively training their employees and managers on how to be the best virtual workers/managers.  Many managers and leaders have not provided clear insight into which direction the organization is moving, and providing such insight is the key to creating either engaged or disengaged employees.


In addition, the sheer uncertainty breeds disengagement.  One can read “Three Vaccines Show Great Promise” on the front page of the Wall Street Journal only to turn the page and read “Leading Experts Say The Pandemic Could Go On for Years.”  Many states have shifted in and out of easing restrictions clouding when, or if, we will get back to “normal.”  Finally, employee engagement levels are further complicated by the fact that employees continue to face health and financial risks, as well as see the need for more social justice and better race relations.


Have you, your leaders, and your organization done everything possible to stem the downward spiral of your employees’ engagement?


Let me help.






Kevin Sheridan is an internationally-recognized Keynote Speaker, a New York Times Best Selling Author, and one of the most sought-after voices in the world on the topic of Employee Engagement. For five years running, he has been honored on Inc. Magazine’s top 100 Leadership Speakers in the world, as well as Inc.’s top 100 experts on Employee Engagement. He was also honored to be named to The Employee Engagement Award’s Top 101 Global Influencers on Employee Engagement of 2017.

Having spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant, Kevin has helped some of the world’s largest corporations rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors. Kevin’s premier creation, PEER®, has been consistently recognized as a long-overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement. His first book, Building a Magnetic Culture, made six of the best seller lists including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. He is also the author of The Virtual Manager, which explores how to most effectively manage remote workers.

Kevin received a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School in 1988, concentrating his degree in Strategy, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Behavior. He is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded and sold three different companies.

Email: kevin@kevinsheridanllc.com