Time to Get Real About Employee Engagement! 65% of Employees are Quitting for More Money

The term employee engagement gets thrown around pretty loosely today, but what does this concept really mean? With 63 percent of employers concerned about employee retention, employee engagement goes a lot deeper than just smiling happy employees at the office. It’s about how employers are jumping through hoops to keep their workers plugged in.

What’s Happening with Employee Engagement in the USA?

Gallup Poll data from June 2015 indicates that employee engagement is still fairly low in American workplaces, at about 31.5 percent of the adult workforce. That means about two-thirds of all employees are disengaged, checked out, and probably looking for other opportunities. PayScale’s Compensation Best Practices Report for this year indicated that the number one reason why employees leave their jobs is over compensation. Perhaps employee engagement and compensation are connected?

A Link Between Compensation and Employee Engagement

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) rolled out their 2015 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey, which illustrated the importance of compensation as it relates to job satisfaction and engagement. Their figures indicated that:

  • 65 percent of employees polled said the reason they seek employment outside of their organization is for more compensation and pay
  • 61 percent of employees rated compensation as important, but only 24 percent were very satisfied with their present compensation
  • 57 percent felt they were paid competitively for the local market, but 22 percent were very satisfied with their current pay
  • Half of the polled employees thought a base rate of pay was important, but only 21 percent believed they were very satisfied

In terms of employee engagement levels, when people are paid fairly for their hard work, they tend to enjoy their work more and they will produce at higher levels. An article in the Harvard Business Review indicates that, “organizations with a high level of engagement report 22% higher productivity”. Further, engagement can boost employee morale, increasing retention rates, improving the well-being of employees, and reduce injuries and accidents. 

Taking steps now to improve the compensation and the workplace experience for your employees makes perfect sense. Employee engagement is a win-win for businesses and employees alike.

What do you think?

How does your company increase employee engagement? Does compensation play into overall employee satisfaction levels? Leave your comments and feedback below!
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On Thursday, August 13, 2015 at 10am PST, our compensation experts will be talking about “Best Practices in Creating Employee Engagement” Please be sure to register for this free webinar here.



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  1. 1
    Lamar Anderson

    That term is used very loosely at my employer and working extremely hard for meager pay is becoming very tiring. I’m optimistic that a better opportunity will come my way and am grateful for employment. I want to be valued more than just another number. Makes sense?

  2. 2

    We just went through 7 yrs of no raises and employees being fooled into believing they were lucky to have a job. Companies amassed cash while cutting pay and benefits, and managed to reset the payscales. Now they think they can fool people into ENGAGEMENT (the newest buzzword) by pretending they care. They pray that we care about the greater good, while still holding onto their raises with both fists. They are wrong. We are leaving for more money and they have killed anything that closely resembles loyalty.

  3. 3
    HR Curmudgeon

    Honestly, employers (ERs) don’t care. Only interested in quarterly results and keeping costs down. Until ERs start getting hurt by employees leaving, the situation won’t change.

  4. 4
    Nelson W. Burns

    Aside from “disgruntled” employees; Employers care IF they understand their business. Like everything else in life; it is very complex. An employer needs to balance raises and rising market rates with a three year vision of staying solvent. Does one continue to provide raises knowing very well that in three years, people will probably get furloughed.

    The answer is to engage employees in any way, including raises, that is a value to the employee. To balance and explain to employees the business cycles and the business issues. With positive employees and a positive company, you can continue to excel.

  5. 5
    Scott B

    Most people, if you are good at what you do and have a track record of success, can find more money elsewhere. If you are paid competitively (57% of people say they are, according to the article) and enjoy what you do, like your boss, your work environment, your co-workers and your employer’s values, you tend to stay.

    Most people give compensation as the reason for leaving a job because it is the most socially acceptable, non-bridge burning way to leave an organization. Sure, money is important, but often there are other reasons for leaving that have gotten so bad that no amount of money would convince the employee to stay. Horrible managers, perception of favoritism, lack of recognition for a job well done, and dishonesty/lack of integrity from the company leadership are just some of those reasons. If you’re experiencing those things where you work, I’d encourage you to try to find another job. Life is too short to spend too much time at a job you hate working for an employer you do not trust or respect.

    The key to keeping your employees is not to just make sure they are ecstatic about their pay – if they are, you are probably paying more than you should, and maybe more than anyone else. That’s hard to sustain. The key is to pay competitively AND provide a great environment. If your employees’ basic needs are not being met by their compensation, no amount of free sodas and ice cream socials will keep them around. Encourage teamwork, request input from employees, listen to their concerns, and act on them when appropriate. When action on an employee concern is not appropriate, clearly explain why. Provide training and opportunity to grow. Weed out bad managers. Be transparent. Reward performance and give frequent feedback and recognition.

    Most successful employers do these things, and better engagement follows.

  6. 6

    Thank you everyone for your insightful comments! From what I am seeing here, many feel that a company has two responsibilities, when it comes to engagement:

    (1) Paying people fairly for their hard work and offering merit increases as promised
    (2) Providing a positive, supportive, and rewarding work environment for employees

    It’s up to companies to find ways to improve management, policies, and opportunities. Some get it right, others have a long way to go.

    Interestingly enough, PayScale data shows that employees often leave jobs because they perceive they are not being paid enough, when in reality they are being paid industry competitive wages. How do you think this belief contributes to overall engagement levels? How can employers best communicate comp to dispel this concern?

  7. 7
    Tim Cole

    Everyone in the workplace seems to be the same:

    Overworked and underpaid.

    What too many employers fail to remember is that a happy employee creates a happy workplace.
    a happy workplace increases productivity = bigger profits.

    something that companies like Virgin have done for years.

    we here alot about employment here at http://immigrationsolicitors4uk.co.uk/
    and so many people who are not skilled attempting to come to the UK for work no matter what it is.
    It makes me think, are our expectations too high??….

    However, fantastic article thank you.

  8. 8

    When your productivity is 2X or 3X greater than other members of your sales team and you are being paid the same, the only incentive the employer is giving you is to quit.

  9. 9
    Adam Kielich

    This can’t be surprising to anybody. Employees are almost uniformly treated first as a cost to the business rather than participants in its success. Employers should assume that employees adopt the same attitude and seek the greatest pay they can get. Since the financial collapse in 2008 employers have continually asked employees to do more with less to which employees are responding, “no thank you” to that paradigm.

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