Employee engagement in the UK and has suffered a marked decline over the past year, according to new research carried out by Achievers into the state of wellbeing in the ‘new normal’.

A majority of employees are no more engaged than they were a year ago, and many are less so. Employers will be concerned that only 28% of employees described themselves as more engaged now, with 37% saying they were less engaged and 33% reporting no change. 

The findings are even more worrying when compared to engagement levels elsewhere in Europe. Among employees in Germany, 35% claimed to be more committed after a year of pandemic and lockdowns, compared to at the same time the year before, but the number stating they were less committed was only 23%. There were a similar number (24%) of less engaged employees in the Netherlands, but even more engaged employees (39%). 

The good news is that UK workers support how their organisations have handled unprecedented events of the last twelve months.

83% of employees think their company handled the last year well or very well. 

Another welcome finding for managers is that 62% of employees believe their organisation cares about their mental health. 50% of employees say their work has been more recognised since lockdown began, an important positive sign given the impact that recognition has on engagement. 

“The UK workforce believes their organisation takes their mental health and wellbeing seriously and are convinced their company culture has improved as a result of the numerous initiatives implemented by senior managers since lockdown,” Jon Maddison, Managing Director EMEA at Achievers said.

“Despite many of the encouraging results of this research, managers will be concerned by the number of employees for whom engagement has deteriorated or remained flat. If organisations are to weather the pandemic’s storm, they’ll need to concentrate on keeping their managers and employees aligned and motivated. To make sure that company culture is a unifying and motivating force, firms will have to remain fixated on engagement by encouraging employee recognition and rewards at all levels.” 

While 71% of employees in the UK feel that their company is more connected than before the pandemic hit, 46% of British workers confess they’re worried about returning to work.

Is diversity and inclusion a priority within UK firms?

Aside from the global impact of COVID-19, 2020 will be remembered as the year when issues of race and equality took a prominent hold of the collective consciousness. Unsurprisingly, organisations in the UK have been making deliberate and visible efforts to highlight diversity and inclusion (D&I), and these initiatives haven’t gone unnoticed internally.

Among employees, 76% believe their company prioritises D&I. Three-quarters of their workforce who approve of their organisation’s D&I initiatives is appreciably more than the 65% found in Germany, although they’ve still got work to do if they’re to achieve the 87% approval rating given by employees in the Netherlands.