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New Employee Engagement Benchmarks for 2023


When you first get started with employee engagement initiatives, it can be difficult to determine if what you’re doing is effective.

Are you using the right kind of survey?

Are you asking the right questions?

Will people actually take the time to provide feedback?

And, perhaps most nerve-wracking of all, will it make a difference if they do?

Based on 15Five’s experience measuring engagement across tens of thousands of employees, we’ve learned a few lessons about what it takes to get helpful feedback from employees.

One of the biggest ones is this:

If you want to help people find more meaning and passion and work, it’s important to first gain an understanding of what the possibilities may be.

After all, it’s not uncommon for employees to engage with different types of jobs in different ways. Increasing engagement will look a lot different for construction workers, who tend to work at distributed job sites, than it will for technology teams that sit side-by-side in the same office building.

To help you determine how best to address engagement at your organization, we’ve pulled together several key insights from 15Five’s report, Employee Engagement Trends 2021: Insights and Benchmarks for Strategic People Leaders.

But first, let’s take a quick look at what it means to measure employee engagement for maximum impact.

Calculating employee engagement scores

At 15Five, quarterly surveys are used to measure 17 drivers of employee engagement. Each of these critical factors plays an important role in how people perceive work, and together influence how engaged (or disengaged) an employee will be.

Each time a company receives feedback from one of our quarterly surveys, the answers are used to arrive at an overall employee engagement score using a scale ranging from “disengaged” to “very engaged.”

The results are then segmented by teams, departments, locations and more to help leadership identify where issues need to be addressed — and when a particular group may be a source of inspiration and best practices for employee engagement initiatives.

For the 2020 annual report, our team analyzed employee engagement data from over 107,500 active employees across 370 organizations in the 15Five database. Based on these calculations, we arrived at three key areas of note. When measuring engagement within your own organization, these benchmarks can be used to help determine what to watch for.

Employee engagement benchmarks by company size

When it comes to fostering employee engagement, bigger is not always better.

Our study revealed that relatively small companies had higher engagement scores than larger corporations. Organizations with 50 or fewer employees had the highest overall engagement scores, while those with 501 to 1,000 staffers had the lowest.

The reason? When working with companies to measure and improve engagement, our specialists have found that employees at small businesses tend to feel more personally tied to the company mission. That’s not to say people don’t find purpose and passion at big businesses as well. But in larger environments, teams often feel more distanced from the company mission and vision — and may not always see how their work is impacting critical business outcomes. In these environments, it’s especially important to be intentional about creating the kind of collaborative culture that comes naturally to small teams working in close quarters.

Employee engagement benchmarks by industry

Our previous studies have revealed that engagement tends to be highest in industries where employees can see tangible fruits of their labor, and this year’s results were no different.

Topping the list of the most engaged industries in our 2020 report were leisure and hospitality, followed closely by real estate. In both sectors, employees are known to work closely with the customers they serve. Those connections help instill a sense of purpose, which in turn drives engagement.

By comparison, manufacturing and software saw the lowest engagement scores in our data set.

While the type of work employees do in these industries is notably different, both are defined by intense structures that can put these groups at increased risk of burnout.

Employee engagement benchmarks by team

It’s not just industry and company size that matter, of course. The type of work people do can have a tremendous impact on how engaged each individual will be.

To gain insight into which types of departments may be at greatest risk for disengaged employees, we analyzed engagement trends by team type.

Human resources departments showed the highest average engagement overall, while production and engineering had the lowest.

While the high HR score is certainly a reason to celebrate, the contrast to other departments could be cause for concern. In some instances, there may be a disconnect between highly engaged HR leaders and other divisions they support. If signs of disengagement are missed as a result, the consequences can get costly.

For some of you, the benchmarks above will be inspiring and motivating. For others, they may instill trepidation.

Even if you work in an industry known for lower engagement scores, or are responsible for a team that tends to face oversized challenges, there are plenty of reasons to take heart. We’ve seen companies in both situations increase engagement and lower turnover rates, simply by taking time to collect and act on employee feedback.

To help you do the same, we’ve covered several of the best practices used by successful companies in our new report. Download your free copy now to learn about:

  • The current state of employee engagement
  • The biggest challenges facing companies across industries
  • The top 5 recommendations for retaining talent in 2020

Download the report >>