This issue of HR News Roundup features items on threats to workplace DEI initiatives, flagging employee engagement, stress, the downward spiral in employer-employee loyalty, dementia in older workers, and more. Be sure to check out news from the lighter side and posts you might have missed.

In New Workplace, U.S. Employee Engagement Stagnates
Jim Harter, Gallup

In 2023, employees in the U.S. continued to feel more detached from their employers, with less clear expectations, lower levels of satisfaction with their organization, and less connection to its mission or purpose, than they did four years ago. They are also less likely to feel someone at work cares about them as a person.
These are among the findings of Gallup’s most recent survey of U.S. employee engagement, which stagnated for the second half of 2023 following a slight improvement earlier in the year.
At midyear, 34% of U.S. full- and part-time employees were engaged in their work and workplace. For the full year of 2023, 33% were engaged, reflecting a slight recent decline. This figure lags behind the annual high — since Gallup began reporting U.S. employee engagement in 2000 — of 36% in 2020 and a peak of 40% in late June of the same year. The engagement peak occurred after a decade of steady growth, followed by two years of decline, beginning in the second half of 2021 when it dropped to a 32% low in 2022.

An Underutilized Way to Support Wellness at Work
Mike Verano, Psychology Today

Employee assistance programs (EAPs) are often the best-kept secret in the workplace, even in companies where an EA professional is onsite.
It’s time to spread the word about this service that many employers tuck away as a seldom-mentioned benefit—before it goes the way of pensions, casual Fridays, and snack machines with only salty or sugary treats. Given the current state of stress in the workplace, there has never been a time when providing for the mental and emotional health of workers has been more critical or necessary.

Stress in America 2023: A nation grappling with psychological impacts of collective trauma
American Psychological Association

U.S. society appears to be experiencing the psychological impacts of a collective trauma in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the results of a new survey by the American Psychological Association. Psychologists warn that a superficial characterization of life being “back to normal” is obscuring the post-traumatic effects on mental and physical health.
The long-term stress sustained since the Covid-19 pandemic began has had a significant impact on well-being, evidenced by a significant increase in reported mental health conditions and chronic illnesses, according to the results of Stress in America™ 2023, a nationwide survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of APA among more than 3,000 U.S. adults age 18+.
The survey revealed that those ages 35 to 44 reported the most significant increase in chronic health conditions since the pandemic—58% in 2023 compared with 48% in 2019. Adults ages 35 to 44 also experienced the highest increase in mental health diagnoses—45% reported a mental illness in 2023 compared with 31% in 2019—though adults ages 18 to 34 still reported the highest rate of mental illnesses at 50% in 2023. Adults ages 35 to 44 were more likely to report that money (77% vs. 65%) and the economy (74% vs. 51%) were the factors that cause them significant stress today compared with 2019.

Will corporate DEI survive a growing ‘anti-woke’ movement?
Jen Colletta, Human Resource Executive

Corporate backing of diversity, equity and inclusion has become table stakes in the last few years. While employer attention to DEI was already growing, the 2020 murder of George Floyd and subsequent global reckoning on race dramatically accelerated DEI to the top of the corporate priority list, solidified by evolving expectations about DEI, particularly among younger entrants to the workforce. But now, is a building “anti-woke” movement threatening the future of corporate DEI?

Related: Amid DEI backlash, employers say they’re ‘doubling down’ on commitment   and As DEI Comes Under Legal Attack, Companies Alter Their Programs

Your employee has dementia: what to do?
Robin Shea, Employment & Labor Law Insider

According to a recent article in the Washington Post (paid subscription may be required for access), “The share of older Americans who are working, by choice or necessity, has doubled in the past 35 years.” The article, based on a study by the Pew Research Center, noted that reasons for older workers to choose work over retirement include better health, less-physically-demanding jobs, and (for many) the end of defined-benefit programs.
With more older workers, employers may increasingly have to address employees with dementia. And doing so improperly can put employers at risk of legal claims for age and disability discrimination.

The end of workplace loyalty
Aki Ito, Business Insider

In the two years I’ve been writing about Americans’ changing relationship to work, there’s one theme that’s come up over and over again: loyalty. Whether my stories are about quiet quitting, or job-hopping, or leveraging a job offer from a competitor to force your boss to give you a raise, readers seem to divide into two groups. On one side are the bosses and tenured employees, the boomers and Gen Xers. Kids these days, they gripe. Do they have no loyalty? On the other side are the younger rank-and-file employees, the millennials and Gen Zers, who feel equally aggrieved. Why should I be loyal to my company when my company isn’t loyal to me?


HR News Roundup: Quick Takes


From the Lighter Side  …

  • Word of the Year 2023 and Top 5 HR Buzzwords
  • You’ve heard about “social media influencers”? This is a short clip showing an “influence factory” in Indonesia. (link to Twitter/X)
  • The nicest place on the internet – Having one of those days? Yeah, been there too. And sometimes, a little pick-me-up is hard to come by. So come on by to turn the sad into happy and the happy into a celebration.
  • Parisian photographer Augustin Lignier found a way to shine a light on our collective obsessions with selfies and social media. Using rewards and a “selfie booth,” he trained two pet rats to take photos of themselves. Even later when rewards became random and intermittent, the rats didn’t want to stop pushing the lever. See Our Rodent Selfies, Ourselves.(New York Times gift link)

Blog posts you may have missed


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