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How Associations Can Face the Decline in Employee Engagement

How Associations Can Face the Decline in Employee Engagement

An Associations Now article by Mark Athitakis highlights a decline in employee engagement in the US. The trend has dropped to an 11-year low, though it remains above levels seen between 2000 and 2013, according to a recent Gallup Poll. 

The pandemic worsened this trend, with only 30% of respondents reporting high engagement, down from 36% pre-pandemic. However, the percentage of actively disengaged employees has remained relatively stable.

The study suggests that organizations are struggling to adapt to hybrid work models and foster connections among employees. HR consultant Carly Holm attributes the disengagement partly to the increasingly screen-dominated modern lifestyle, reducing human interaction.

Hybrid work arrangements, aimed at addressing engagement issues, often fall short. Athitakis notes that if office time merely replicates remote work—staring at screens—its benefits won’t be realized. To improve engagement, better scheduling coordination and clearer communication of work purpose are crucial, especially for younger workers.

Athitakis advises managers to shift focus in one-on-one meetings from mere progress updates to discussions about how employees contribute to organizational goals, utilizing their skills, and mapping growth opportunities. This emphasis on purposeful communication can also benefit associations, which can facilitate meaningful connections among members through various means like chapter meetings and networking events.

The decline in employee engagement underscores a broader frustration with belonging. Associations, by promoting a sense of community and purpose, have an opportunity to address this dissatisfaction. Overall, improving engagement requires a shift toward meaningful interactions and a clearer sense of purpose in both the workplace and professional communities.

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