The Great Resignation and Employee Engagement
Heidi Zwart
the great resignation

If you’re an organizational leader, employee engagement has likely become one of your top concerns. As waves of employees started to left the workplace, organizations were forced to pay attention and prioritize employee retention in a new way. Whether you lost employees in the exodus or were an employee moving on to a better job for you, the connection between the great resignation and employee engagement has forced organizational leaders to consider what’s working and what’s not in their company culture and structure. 

What is employee engagement?

Gallup defines employee engagement as “the involvement and enthusiasm of employees in their work and workplace. Investopedia adds that “engaged employees care about their work and about the performance of the company, and feel that their efforts make a difference. An engaged employee is in it for more than a paycheck and may consider their well-being linked to their performance, and thus instrumental to their company’s success.” By this metric, employee engagement is how much the employee cares about the job. If they find their values and culture align with the mission of the company, and how much they are willing to give up for the success of the greater company.

Why does employee engagement matter?

Employee engagement and morale is directly related to a company’s success. Organizations that had strong engagement pre-pandemic likely saw less attrition during the great resignation. An emphasis on employee benefits leads workers to respect the company and view it as a caring relationship with their employer, not just a matter of exchanging services for wages. According to Gallup, organizations that have high employee engagement see “significantly better profitability, productivity, absenteeism, customer loyalty/engagement and other business outcomes.” In other words, prioritizing your employees is just a very effective way of prioritizing the health of your business. The people are the lifeblood of any organization.

How is employee engagement measured?

Gallup has surveyed people around the world and designed an assessment to measure employee engagement. The Q12 assessment is uniquely suited to measuring employee engagement and is well equipped to measure engagement in the wake of the great resignation. Since Gallup began measuring, employee engagement numbers have generally held steady, even during the pandemic, with about one-third of the workplace reporting engagement at work. Most recently, Gallup reported that 39% of US employees are engaged (only 15% worldwide), 47% are disengaged, and 14% are actively disengaged. 

What did the great resignation have to do with employee engagement?

Disengaged employees are more at risk to leave an organization than engaged ones and at even greater risk are those who are actively disengaged, and usually ignored. Since 61% of the population falls into one of those two categories, the workplace exodus shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Employer attention was scattered at best. Keeping employees happy may have been on the list of priorities, it was one of many things on a long list of to-do’s. Without good communication and an idea of where the company was headed, already disengaged employees headed for the exit. Gallup data shows that “low engagement teams typically endure turnover rates that are 18% to 43% higher than highly engaged teams.” By July of 2021, 48% of America’s working population was actively job searching or watching for opportunities, which was the beginning of the great resignation. 


The great resignation and employee engagement statistics have shown the importance of cultivating a healthy workplace. Organizations that invest in strong communication, holistic wellbeing, and personal development of their people will have happier, healthier, and more resilient employees who perform better. High employee engagement also leads to more loyalty and contentment, resulting in stronger organizations that can withstand whatever the future of work may bring.  

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