Study reveals “bleak picture” of employee engagement around the world

by HRD24 Mar 2017
Approximately 70% of employees in Southeast Asia say they are “not engaged” at work, according to the 2017 UN World Happiness Report based on 2014-2016 Gallup World Poll data of over 150 countries.

The findings reflect a “bleak picture of employee engagement around the world,” according to researchers Jan-Emmanuel De Neve of the University of Oxford and George Ward of the Massachusetts institute of Technology.

Across all regions, employees who said they are “not engaged” and “actively disengaged” outnumbered those who are “actively engaged.”

In separate figures, they found that countries across North and South America, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand typically see more individuals reporting satisfaction with their jobs.

“While job satisfaction can perhaps be reduced to feeling content with one’s job, the notion of (active) employee engagement requires individuals to be positively absorbed by their work and fully committed to advancing the organization’s interests, said De Neve and Ward.

“Increased employee engagement thus represents a more difficult hurdle to clear.”

Those in well-paying jobs are more satisfied with their lives and their jobs – “but a number of further aspects of people’s jobs are strongly predictive of varied measures of well-being.” Work-life balance emerged as a “particularly strong” predictor of people’s happiness.

People with a job evaluate the quality of their lives much more favourably than those who are unemployed, the study found. “The  importance of having a job extends far beyond the salary attached to it, with non-pecuniary aspects of employment such as social status, social relations, daily structure, and goals all exerting a strong influence on people’s happiness.”

However, those in blue-collar jobs indicated lower levels if happiness, especially those in labour-intensive industries such as construction, mining, manufacturing, transport, farming, fishing, and forestry.

“Given the importance of employment for happiness, it is evident that even more weight ought to be given to fostering employment, as well as protecting people against the damaging effects of joblessness” said De Neve and Ward.

“Moreover, policies that promote high quality jobs could be stimulated by, for example, incentivizing employers who provide jobs with working conditions that are conducive to people’s wellbeing.”

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  • by Bill Fotsch 25/3/2017 10:38:16 PM

    The bleak engagement picture is a huge opportunity for companies that do engage their employees. They create a sustainable competitive advantage. Industry leaders like Southwest Airlines, Capital One and BHP Billiton, (clients of mine), and hundreds of private companies treat their employees like trusted business partners, enabling them to make more money for their company and themselves. They consistently see both profits and engagement soar. This Forbes article provides more background:

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