Fifty-one percent of employees in the U.S. are actively looking for a new job. That’s more than half, according to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report. And that’s huge.
The biggest cause: employee engagement, or lack thereof. Seventy percent of U.S. employees are not engaged at work.
Disengagement can be an individual employee’s problem, for a number of reasons, such as personal challenges outside of work that serve as distractions, lack of interest in the work performed, ability to perform job functions, etc., but more often than not, employee engagement is a companywide issue related to culture, a mission employees can embrace, communication, management style, workplace recognition, opportunities for growth and simply having the right tools and resources to perform tasks optimally.
As a job seeker, a hiring company’s track record on engagement is an important element to consider in choosing to team up. You are more apt to work to your full potential at a company with a high level of engagement. But how do you measure employee engagement before you accept the offer?
Pose the Question
Ask the recruiter, the hiring manager and anyone who interviews you specifically about engagement and what the company does to promote it. Gallup has twelve questions companies can ask employees to help measure engagement:
- I know what is expected of me at work.
- At work, my opinions seem to count.
- I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
- The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
- At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
- My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
- In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
- I have a best friend at work.
- My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
- In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
- There is someone at work who encourages my development.
- This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.
You won’t ask these questions, but they give you a good idea of what you want in an engaged workplace. You can ask related questions, such as how the employees are recognized, how performance and progress are measured, how employees feel about and embrace the company’s mission, what the company does to create a shared vision, and how employees are mentored or developed.
It’s an old, but not outdated, question to ask. It can be an indicator of troubled waters within. Don’t stop at asking for the rate alone. Ask about underlying causes.
What’s a good turnover rate? It’s not one-size-fits-all and depends on the industry. The hospitality and restaurant industries have higher turnover rates in general as a result of the transient nature of the workforce. For example, high school and college students may fill hourly, unskilled labor positions. Turnover rates may be 16-17 percent for all industries as an average, but hospitality may have as much as 37 percent. If you are considering a professional role in such an industry, you can drill down and ask about turnover rates for their management workforce instead.
People talk, and in the age of social media, they have a platform to be heard. Glassdoor gives employees the opportunity to rate an organization. Keep in mind, however, that a disgruntled employee or even a job candidate may give a skewed review. Look for a repeated theme of negativity. Additionally, a small number of reviews won’t give you an accurate picture. Five reviews won’t tell you as much as 150 will. Look for other clues too on other social media platforms. A search on Twitter with a hash tag in front of a company name may reveal some surprising insights.
Ask existing contacts at the hiring company about their personal experiences, and more specifically ask about their sense of engagement. Do your networking homework and find other contacts working for the organization who may be willing to have a conversation with you.
The Golden Cup
Check a company’s awards and accolades for being a best pace to work and awards for engagement. Some awards and winners include:
Achievers Engaged Workplace Awards
Gallup Most Engaged Workplaces
Fortune Great Place to Work
Glassdoor Employee Choice Awards
Additionally, most local and regional business journals and newspapers host awards for best workplaces as do industry associations. Bear in mind that such awards are achieved through employee surveys and feedback. An award may measure many aspects of workplace, though, such as benefits, and may not measure true engagement, so use multiple channels to gather information on engagement to get an accurate account.
Moreover, just because a company is not on an award list, doesn’t mean it is not a great place to work or that it doesn’t have an engaged workforce. Companies apply to awards; they are not nominated by the award-granting entity.