What Happened to the Year of the Employee?

2014 was predicted to be the Year of the Employee with increased competition for talent and continuing attention on employee engagement. But did employee engagement improve in the workplace?

Certainly, the Market Basket story of employees’ successful public (and customer-supported) protest of their ousted CEO illustrated the powerful impact of loyal, engaged employees. Yet according to engagement studies, the level of actively engaged employees still hovers around 30%. For all the expressed interest in in improving engagement, many in charge demonstrate more intention than action.

Mixed results on “The Year of the Employee” were found by leadership coach, Tanveer Naseer:

” … I did see leaders this year who clearly understood not only how to engage and motivate their employees, but also how to manage conflict in today’s faster-paced, connected world, how to foster an environment where our employees succeed and thrive, as well as how we can use our leadership to bring out the best in those under our care.

“Unfortunately, I also saw leaders who tried to side-step any responsibility for the issues that currently plague their organization, with some even arguing how the problem was the fault of those their organization serves, and not a reflection of their leadership or contribution.”

There are also executives for whom engaging employees is based solely on issuing paychecks. I recently learned about a company’s year-end-in-review meeting where the CEO addressed all employees. His conveyed his disappointment in a sluggish bottom line as he admonished employees to work harder in the new year.  There were no words of acknowledgment for employees’ efforts/contributions during the past challenging year and no words of encouragement moving forward. As a result, many of his managers and employees are committed to working harder — to find new jobs elsewhere.

For that company and others like it, 2015 may well be the Year of Employee Burnout and Turnover. Here’s hoping those employees will be successful in finding the organizations that take engagement seriously.



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