Trying to piece together the state of play in the workforce at the moment based on recent research, I find myself confused.

In fact, it seems in keeping with a week-end when a reasonably large number of otherwise very sensible people began to believe as though the world might end. In fact many acted on it, tweeting good-byes and final messages.

So here’s the current scenario. One in seven employers is struggling to recruit, and at the same time, unemployment falls by 0.1%. A tiny amount, but nevertheless, one can imagine these two facts co-existing in the same world.

At the same time, graduate applications reach an all time high, which to my mind, should go quite some way to helping out those one in seven employers who cannot find the right recruits.

But then here’s the thing: it turns out that one in three of us is worried that we’re going to lose our jobs.

One imagines that these concerned employees cannot be working for the one in seven companies who can’t find the right employees.

Now I promise I am not being facetious, and especially not about anything as terrible as the fear of losing one’s job.

But the point that all of this data raises is the significant mismatch between the apprehensions, hopes and expectations of current and existing employees, the reality facing employers, and the wider reality of what is happening in the world at large.

We tend to engage people on the matters which concern us, which is why management is always talking about strategies and visions – whereas many of their employees may need to hear much simpler messages, and even to the extent that it’s possible in corporate life, some reassurance.

The reality is that it’s much easier to believe the bad things that apparent authorities tell us – like the management of a company, or the leadership of a church that believes the world will end on 21 May 2011 – than the good things.

Fewer and fewer people are engaging with religion as a positive influence on their lives – but millions tuned in to Harold Camping’s Family Radio, and many others picked up the vibe virally online and through other media – when he predicted the world’s end.

The good stuff is bad to believe, and at a time when lots of bad things happen to people in the workforce, the language of corporate engagement seems unremittingly disconnected from what are likely to be true concerns of employees.

Engagement has to be contextual. It has to change as companies change, as society changes, as economic circumstances change.

People live in much more straitened times. Many are more modest in their ambitions. They want to know simple things, like the likelihood that they will have a job next week.