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Employees are more engaged — but also more stressed — than ever

By Juliet Helmke | |4 minute read

New research shows that employees are more engaged in their work than ever, but they’re also more stressed.

A global poll from Gallup found that the percentage of engaged employees globally rose from 2021 to 2022. With a temporary drop in engagement in 2020, the trend since Gallup began reporting the global metric in 2009 has been on a steady rise. Starting as low as 12 per cent, the percentage of engaged full- and part-time employees working for an employer has risen to 23 per cent. This gain of 11 percentage points represents an increase of more than 250 million engaged employees in the global workforce.

Gallup surveys 160,000 people per year, 2.2 million employees queried since 2009, to gain this snapshot of the global workforce.


But while employees appear to care about their jobs more than ever, with greater investment has come a higher level of pressure. Work anxiety, Gallup reports, has been on the rise. The figure has held steady since 2021, with 44 per cent of respondents saying they feel stress on a daily basis.

The global data collection firm emphasised that the high levels of anxiety among employees should impress on businesses the importance of simultaneously addressing employee engagement alongside wellbeing in the current and future workforce.

Providing some insight into employees’ mental state, the firm reported that more than half of employees (59 per cent) were participating in the practice that had become known as “quiet quitting,” citing issues such as culture, pay, benefits and a lack of engagement for reasons they had essentially checked out of their jobs.

More than half (51 per cent) of global employees currently working said they are also actively seeking other jobs or watching for openings. Disengaged employees are 42 per cent more likely to be actively looking or watching for openings in comparison to engaged employees, according to Gallup.

In terms of who is most affected, stress tends to be higher among younger employees as well as those working remotely.

As Gallup noted:

“While exclusively remote and hybrid employees report higher employee engagement, they also report higher stress – perhaps caused by a less predictable or structured work life. But employee engagement has 3.8 times as much influence on employee stress as work location. In other words, what people are experiencing in their everyday work – their feelings of involvement and enthusiasm – matters more in reducing stress than where they are doing their work. No location can fix poor management.”

Gallup reported that effective management in the more remote and hybrid, post-pandemic workforce involves having one meaningful conversation with each employee once per week that focuses on recognition, collaboration, goals and priorities, and strengths. These feedback meetings can be short (from 15 to 30 minutes) if they happen weekly.