March 30, 2017
As the UK triggers Article 50 to leave the EU, France goes through what could be a game changing Presidential election and the United States continues to struggle with an increasingly divisive administration it’s perhaps not surprising that global uncertainty appears to be pushing up levels of employee scepticism. Globally, employee engagement declined for the first time since 2012, according to a report from Aon Hewitt. According to an analysis of more than five million employees at more than 1,000 organisations around the world, levels dropped from 65 percent in 2015 to 63 percent in 2016. Less than one quarter (24 percent) of employees are highly engaged and 39 percent are moderately engaged. “The rise in populist movements like those in the U.S., the U.K. and other regions is creating angst within organisations as they anticipate the potential for a decrease in free labour flow,” explained Ken Oehler, Global Culture & Engagement Practice leader at Aon Hewitt.
“Along with rapid advances in technology that are increasingly threatening job security, fewer employees are engaged and we expect this trend to continue. As engagement falls, businesses can expect greater turnover, higher absenteeism and lower customer satisfaction—all factors that will significantly contribute to poor financial performance,” stressed Oehler.
Employee Engagement Since 2011
Aon Hewitt’s analysis found regional variations were driven by regional and country-specific economic, political and cultural differences. While certain regions like Latin America and Africa are experiencing increases in their organisations’ engaged employee levels, other regions such as Asia, Europe, and North America are facing decreased levels.
According to Aon Hewitt, employees in Asia Pacific saw the biggest decline, dropping from 65 percent in 2015 to 62 percent in 2016. Rewards and recognition programs were ranked as a top opportunity to improve engagement by employees in Asia.
Latin America saw the largest increases, growing from 72 percent in 2015 to 75 percent in 2016. While not all countries in Latin America saw rising engagement levels, all countries remain above the global rate. Mexico saw a four percentage point decline in engagement in 2016 (79 percent in 2015, compared to 75 percent in 2016), while engagement for workers in Brazil rebounded eight points to 77 percent in 2016 after falling the previous year. Amidst the political and economic volatility and uncertainty in Venezuela, engagement was down 11 points to 69 percent.
Rewards and recognition ranked as the strongest opportunity this year, a significant jump from ranking third in 2016. Not surprisingly, senior leadership strength and the degree of forward thinking decision-making was another top priority. “The ability for leaders to have the personal sensitivity required to lead people and their organisations to growth is paramount in this intensely changing environment,” added Oehler.