Only one in four employees surveyed (24%) said the management at their company had clearly communicated business objectives for 2010, while a third (32%) have no idea if there is a clear vision for their business, according to YouGov and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.
The survey shows only one in four (27%), feels totally prepared for and is positive about the year ahead.
The research should be a wake-up call for business as we approach a year that will be critical to the country's recovery from recession. It suggests many employers should focus more time and effort on explaining business goals for 2010 so employees in all areas are informed, enthused and prepared to play the part expected of them.
But employee uncertainty about their organisation's plans for next year may come as a surprise to many employers - over a third (38%) of those bosses whose organisations have clear objectives for 2010 believe these goals have been clearly communicated to employees.
A further 51% believe their employees are aware of the business objectives but may not know the detail - suggesting a significant disconnect between what management think their employees know and what they actually know.
David MacLeod, adviser to BIS and co-author of the recent report to Government, Engaging for Success, said: "This is just one example of how poor employee engagement can put the brakes on improved business performance. If leaders don't explain where the business is going and what it's seeking to achieve, how can people be motivated or know what they're meant to contribute? Clear goals are a key ingredient for achieving performance and productivity - but worryingly this research suggests many employers haven't yet grasped this for 2010."
"Every leader, every business, must get their message across and inspire employee energy and enthusiasm for the year ahead. Gather your people, invite views and ideas on next steps, hold one on one and group meetings - there are lots of simple steps employers can take now which will ensure employees are engaged and ready to play their part in delivering business success in 2010. And this isn't just a one off activity - there must be a continued commitment throughout the year to ensure staff feel involved and motivated by the business and its goals."
If organisations increased investment in a range of good workplace practices, which relate to engagement by just 10%, they would increase profits by up to £1,500 per employee per year. The cost of disengaged employees to the economy was between £59.4 billion and £64.7 billion in 2008.