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What Roles do Engagement, Feedback, and Employee Experience Play in Retaining Talent?

The current state of the job market is frustrating employers big and small as they try to remain competitive for talent – both those exploring new opportunities AND those who are already employed.

Businesses are taking actions – such as enhancing benefits, improving compensation, and adding new workplace perks – to help overcome their recruiting and retention troubles.

But employee retention is a talent management concern that can have significant impacts on employers if not addressed effectively.

Often, employers turn to engagement as a way to help boost retention, which is what an annual report from Achievers hoped to provide insights into.


In their 2019 report, Achievers surveyed more than 800 North American workers to get a better idea of how engaged they are at work and if they are open to exploring new job opportunities.

The first interesting finding is that just 34.7% of respondents said they plan on looking for a new job this year. This number was significantly higher in their 2018 report at 74%. 18.6% of respondents admitted that they weren’t sure if they would explore new roles this year at the time of the survey.

What makes the 34.7% finding that much more surprising is that 70.1% of survey takers do not consider themselves to be very engaged at work.

While this may appear like a positive for employers, not addressing engagement concerns could easily lead to employees changing their minds over time, even those who have been in their role for years.


The report provided several insights into the current state of employee engagement. Survey takers were asked how engaged they were in their current role. The most common answer was: “average engagement, but open to new opportunities.”

Some other interesting engagement statistics included:

  • Only 20.8% of workers feel “very engaged” at work
  • Perhaps more concerning to employers, 16.3% are fully disengaged
  • 31.3% said they are engaged but want their employer to take actions to improve the employee experience

The report also explored some of the common reasons why employees ultimately decide to seek new employment opportunities. Employee engagement came in low on this list:

  • Pay raise – 54.2%
  • Career advancement – 37.8%
  • Better employee benefits – 20.7%
  • Not engaged at work – 14%

What Can Employers do to Improve Engagement and Retention?

Despite the low percentage of workers in this survey who said they plan on looking for new roles, employers run the risk (a high risk!) of lowering retention rates by failing to act on ways to improve engagement, company culture, and the employee experience.

Survey respondents said that they see company leadership as ineffective at improving company culture, and just 9% said leaders are very committed to improving the employee experience and organizational culture.

Another 38% of workers said that they have never heard company leaders talk about culture or said that if they do discuss it, they take no actions to back it up.

Another important engagement factor – employee recognition – is an area where employers are also missing the mark. 17% said that their employer was horrible at recognizing their work, while 43% said their employer/manager was just OK at employee recognition.

Meanwhile, just 10.8% of survey takers said that employee recognition was awesome at their company.

Lastly, the report highlights that employers are failing to improve engagement by overlooking the importance of employee feedback.

Just 40% of workers rated their manager/employer as OK at asking for feedback (once or twice a year) while 16.3% said their employer was horrible at it.

Employer actions on feedback were met with even worse rankings from employees. 21.4% said their employer/manager is “horrible – they never do anything with feedback.” And 42.3% responded that they’re just OK at acting on feedback.


Even though the survey reveals that significantly less workers plan on searching for a job this year despite low engagement, employers cannot stop taking actions to improve the employee experience.

Failing to address employee concerns around engagement, culture, and their overall experience will eventually increase the chances of staff seeking new opportunities that better meet their expectations.

One area of HR is becoming increasingly more difficult for small employers to properly handle — maintaining compliance with employment laws. Download our eBook, Guide to Employment Law: Topics Employers Must Know to Stay Compliant, to learn more about some of the biggest trends and topics in employment law.

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