Key Findings From Our 2024 Employee Experience Trends Report

Every year we analyze our accumulated client data to provide a window into employee experience trends. As we explored our data from the past year, it became clear that the state of engagement in small to mid-size US based organizations is unique. While large, global companies are experiencing a decrease in engagement, we are seeing engagement scores increase among our clients.

In 2023, engagement trended upward from the previous year. On some metrics, we’re even back to where we were pre-pandemic, reflecting a resurgence of enthusiasm among employees. Employees in our dataset are excited about their work again, they are more likely to recommend their workplace, and they feel valued.

While most news is positive, there were also some surprises and thought-provoking revelations in our data. As I reflected on the overall trends and specific statistics, three findings stood out.

What sets our 2024 Employee Experience Trends Report apart from others you’ve read is our focus on organizations like yours. Major corporations often make the headlines, but small businesses are the foundation of the economy. We aim to provide insights relevant to your organization by benchmarking against peers who share similar dynamics and confront comparable obstacles.

Organizations in our dataset ranged from 30 employees up to 17,000.

The average organization employed around 1,800 people.

Finding #1: The Team with the Biggest Impact on Engagement May Not Be Engaged

In 2023, three out of the six key drivers of engagement reference how employees perceive senior leadership. To foster high engagement, leaders must communicate openly, inspire their people, and earn trust. However, this may prove more challenging than ever to deliver due to a concerning trend we’ve observed: executives report losing confidence in the future of their own organizations. The risk of low engagement at the executive level now could be indicative of future declines in engagement at all levels.

Finding #2: Managers are an Experience Multiplier

While senior leaders drive overall employee engagement, managers set the tone for the day-to-day work experience. All five topics that most powerfully impact employees’ intent to stay are directly influenced by frontline managers. Empowering managers to succeed as people leaders is fundamental to creating a positive employee experience and reducing attrition.

Finding #3: Belonging Drives the Bottom Line

The topic of belonging has been steadily climbing as a key driver of engagement and retention over the past several years. In 2023, we saw “I feel a sense of belonging” move into the #1 spot for both engagement and intent to stay. Many of our clients have devoted attention to belonging, resulting in a considerable increase in the aggregate score across our database.

Compelling Statistics

In addition to the key findings, I always look forward to the work our Director of People Science, Madison Hanscom, does to uncover relationships between perceptions and outcomes. Here are a few of the most compelling statistics from this year’s report:

  • When leaders take meaningful action on employee feedback, employees are 5.3x more likely to plan on staying for the next year.
  • Employees who report that their manager cares about them are 9x more likely to feel they belong.
  • Those indicating their managers have meaningful development conversations with them feel nearly 8x more confident they can achieve their career goals.

Employee Experience Imperatives

The goal of gathering employee feedback is to provide insights that inform actions we can take to enhance the employee experience and drive organizational performance. The key findings outlined above yielded three imperatives. Organizations wanting to create compelling and differentiating employee experiences in 2024 and beyond must:

  1. Ensure Senior Leadership Team Alignment & Commitment
  2. Invest in Manager Effectiveness
  3. Prioritize Workplace Relationships

To read our full analysis and learn what you should be focusing on now to improve employee engagement and retention, download our 2024 Employee Experience Trends Report.

Author picture

Wendy Mack has been helping business and HR leaders transform their organizations for more than two decades. She is the author of numerous books and articles on the topics of leadership, learning, change, and communication. Connect with Wendy at LinkedIn.

Wendy Mack
Vice President