Press Release

Change-Weary Employees Are Unmotivated, But Are Staying Put
In Uncertain Times, Employers Must Focus on Inclusion and Communications to Keep Staff Engaged and Productive, According to CEB

ARLINGTON, Va., Dec. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- More employees are "quitting in seat" as active job seeking declines after two consecutive quarters of growth, according to CEB (NYSE: CEB), a best practice insight and technology company. Data from CEB's Global Talent Monitor suggests that while employees plan to stay with their current employers, they are not going above and beyond on the job. Leaders can keep employees from disengaging by creating an inclusive environment that encourages conversations and empowers employees to make decisions and lead implementation of new processes.

The Impact of Uncertainty
The unpredictability in the U.K. post-Brexit has caused employers and employees alike to take a "wait-and-see" approach to decision making. With this lack of confidence in the political and business environment, it's not surprising to see a two percent decrease in job-seeking activity there. This uncertainty has spread throughout Europe as several countries, including France, Spain and Germany, have reported similar declines. Facing its own uncertainty surrounding the presidential election, job-seeking activity in the U.S. declined almost 1.5 percent after a previous two-percent increase in Q2.

[Listen to Brian Kropp's podcast for a deep dive on labor market trends and prescriptive guidance for talent-focused executives –]

While job-seeking activity has declined, so too has employees' willingness to do more. Levels of discretionary effort continued to fall globally for the third quarter in row, with sharp declines in North America, Australia and New Zealand. Discretionary effort in these geographies hit the lowest levels since 2010, with North America experiencing a two percent drop. As employees remain in-seat yet unwilling to go above and beyond, employers will face an increasingly disengaged workforce where staff do only enough to get by.

"We've seen employees quitting in seat the last few quarters, but it's on the rise now in the midst of increasing uncertainty," said Brian Kropp, HR practice leader, CEB. "Employees aren't confident enough in the labor market to take a new job, but they're also not engaged enough with their current company to give it their all."

Addressing Unprecedented Change
The amount of change companies are facing today has surpassed levels at the peak of the financial crisis in 2009. Companies that will be most successful in this volatile environment are those that bring employees into decision-making processes and align their work to key outcomes and business priorities.

"In an environment of constant change and disruption, leaders need to adapt to create a more inclusive environment that empowers employees," added Kropp. "When employees feel valued they remain more engaged and productive. This enables leaders to focus on business objectives and results without constant worry about retaining their best people."

To optimize employee engagement and retention in the midst of change, leaders should:

  1. Be More Inclusive in Decision-Making: Leading through uncertainty is complex and challenging, and in today's environment it's also unavoidable. It is impossible for any single leader to have all the answers. Bringing people with different perspectives and a variety of experiences – i.e. individuals at different levels and from different business units and/or corporate functions – into the decision-making process will ensure a better end result.
  2. Have Conversations not "Communications": The natural instinct of many leaders in times of uncertainty is to "go underground" while they formulate their plan of attack. However, this is one of the worst things leaders can do. Creating an open communication strategy more than doubles the percentage of employees who understand the direction the company is heading, and in this model employees are more committed to their employer.
  3. Push Decision Rights Closer to the Work: As organizations have become flatter, more networked, and increasingly virtual, work processes have also shifted to be less standardized and predictable. Enabling managers and employees in critical roles to lead change and adapt work processes frees up leaders' time, and provides opportunity for greater accountability at the level where work gets done.

Global Talent Monitor data is drawn from CEB's larger Global Labor Market Survey which is made up of more than 20,000 employees in 40 countries. The survey is conducted quarterly and is reflective of market conditions during the quarter preceding publication. Visit to learn more and compare talent data from around the world. 

About CEB

CEB is a best practice insight and technology company. In partnership with leading organizations around the globe, we develop innovative solutions to drive corporate performance. CEB equips leaders at more than 10,000 companies with the intelligence to effectively manage talent, customers, and operations. CEB is a trusted partner to nearly 90% of the Fortune 500 and FTSE 100, 80% of the JSE, and more than 70% of the Dow Jones Asian Titans. More at


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