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The Engagement Gap

The Engagement Gap

With only 23% of the global workforce considering themselves “engaged” and 24% of the accounting and finance profession considering leaving their current employer within the next 12 months, it is time to take a deeper look at engagement and what we should be doing as audit leaders to energize our teams.


min read

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The Engagement Gap

At least every month for the past year, an article or a survey crossed my desk about the lack of employee engagement. Eye grabbing headlines like “quiet quitting” and “the great resignation” forecasted mass disruption of companies as 25% or more of their teams were projected to leave during the past year.

Here are just some of the highlights from a few studies:

  • Only 23% of the global workforce considers themselves “engaged” (Gallup, 2023) 1
  • 24% of accounting and finance workforce is considering leaving their current employer within the next 12 months (Robert Half/ Institute of Management Accountants, 2023)2
  • 11% of accounting and finance workforce is considering leaving the profession within the next year (Robert Half / Institute of Management Accountants, 2023)3
  • Accounting graduates (both undergraduate and graduate) have declined for the past three years while hiring expectations (for CPA firms) have remained constant or increased. (AICPA Trends, 2023)4
  • Finally, the IIA Risk in Focus 2024 Global Survey pointed out that human capital was in the top 5 risks for every region and averaged out to be the 2nd highest risk globally.(IIA, 2023)5

On the surface, these surveys point to some serious disconnects between employers and employees, especially in the accounting and finance profession. Yet, when I think about the teams and organizations I work with and ask the question: “are only 25% engaged at work?” The answer is a resounding “no.” In fact, if anything it is the other way around – at most, only 25% were NOT that actively engaged. And, this would hold true with teams across government and the private sector. And as I talk to other organization leaders and consultants I hear a similar response.

So what is really going on here? Is there a problem, or is it just headline hype? And if there is a problem, is it systemic or are there other conditions such as company size, industry, profession, location, etc. that we have yet to uncover that contribute to the lack of engagement? And, probably the most important question, what are we as leaders willing to do about it if the problem does exist?

Over the next several weeks we will look closer at this data and begin to answer these questions. We will begin this series by looking at a definition of engagement to see if it aligns with what today’s workforce believes is engagement. Then, we will look at whether there is truly an engagement problem. Finally, we will examine specific actions that leaders can do that energize their teams and have a direct impact on performance, regardless of what engagement scores, surveys and headlines say.

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  1. See my summary of Gallup’s 2023 State of Global Workforce . ↩︎
  2. Talent Retention in the U.S. Accounting and Finance Professions, Robert Half and The Institute of Management Accountants, (October 2023). ↩︎
  3. ibid. ↩︎
  4. AICPA 2023 Trends Report, AICPA, (October 2023) ↩︎
  5. Risk in Focus 2024 Global Summary Institute of Internal Auditors, (November 2023) ↩︎

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