If you’ve observed that your employees aren’t as engaged in their jobs as they once were, it’s not your imagination.

A recent Gallup poll that measured various workplace elements, including employees’ level of agreement about clarity of expectations, opportunities for development and their opinions counting at work, found that employee engagement has dropped for the first time in a decade. Down from 36% engaged employees in 2020 to 34% in 2021, this pattern has continued into 2022, showing that just 32% of full- and part-time employees are now engaged and 17% are actually disengaged — an increase of 1% from last year.

If you’re not concerned, you should be.

The Importance of Company Culture

Employee engagement is linked to many organizational outcomes, not the least of which are profitability, productivity and retention. As the chief executive officer of a company that helps guide leaders in creating equitable organizations that drive employee engagement, I can tell you firsthand that the No. 1 thing you can do to fight employee disengagement is to take a hard look at your company’s culture. How are your employees experiencing it? Is your culture welcoming to all?

When organizations have a culture of inclusion, it creates an environment of involvement, respect and connection, where the richness of diverse ideas, backgrounds and perspectives are harnessed to create business value.

Does that sound like your culture?

The harsh reality is that most organizations don’t focus enough on building their own culture. Taking the pulse of your company’s culture will go a long way to help you understand how your employees are experiencing their workday.

A cultural assessment can help you do just that. I’m not talking about an employee engagement survey. You need something that goes deeper into the company’s culture, which is ultimately driven by the company’s leadership. Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. How are your employees experiencing your culture?
  2. Do they see and feel your leaders demonstrating inclusive behaviors and making inclusive decisions?
  3. Are there equitable career opportunities across your organization for your employees?

The results of your cultural assessment should provide you with answers to these questions.  Once you are equipped with this information, you will have clarity of the cultural issues your organization must address to become more inclusive.

For example, when you look at your company’s policies and procedures, you want to make sure they’re equitable across the entire organization and not just for certain groups. Some common issues that may arise from your cultural assessment include whether disrespectful behavior is challenged, or that there is a lack of development opportunities for underrepresented talent or the lack of transparency on what it takes to be promoted, among others. You may think you’re treating everyone the same, but in all likelihood, your cultural assessment will indicate that your employees do not think so.

Changing the culture of your company requires the full support of leadership. This cannot be understated. Share the results from the cultural assessment with your team to give them an understanding of how they are seen by employees. Then, make sure your leaders are prepared to support the culture work necessary to truly make it inclusive. Align on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) priorities and address the behavioral shifts required for them to be seen and felt as inclusive leaders.

The bottom line is that employee engagement is your leaders’ responsibility. According to a Glassdoor survey on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, 63% of U.S. employees feel their employer should be doing more to increase diversity of its workforce.

Employees want to feel like they belong. They want to know their contribution to the organization is recognized. They want to have opportunities for growth. With unemployment rates at 3.6%, attrition rates rising, and employee engagement rates dropping, can your organization afford not to assess and address your culture?