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Employee
Engagement
Research Update
Beyond the numbers:
A practical approach for
individuals, managers, and executives
January 2013
© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13 rev2. Copying
and distribution — both printed and electronic — is prohibited without express written permission from BlessingWhite, Princeton, NJ, USA.
908-904-1000. In Europe, tel: +44 (0) 1628 660397. For distribution requests please contact info@blessingwhite.com.
Contents
This report is provided as part of BlessingWhite
Intelligence, a series of reports on business and
workplace issues. You can explore other topics by
visiting www.blessingwhite.com/research.
Executive summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  1
What is engagement anyway? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
Findings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
Intent to stay (Retention) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  25
About this report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  32
1© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
In early 2011 BlessingWhite published a comprehensive report examining the dynamics of engagement
around the world. The report generated a lot of interest with over 30,000 people downloading it from
the BlessingWhite website. We are pleased to provide an update to that report based on data collected
over the summer and autumn of 2012.
This Employee Engagement Report research update reflects online survey responses of over 7,000
individuals from around the world. Details on our methodology and the global respondent profile
appear in About this Report on page 32.
It further complements the methodology and employee engagement best practices we explore in our
October 2012 book The Engagement Equation: Leadership Strategies for an Inspired Workforce. The
recommendations in this report reflect the approaches that we explored in the interviews for the book as
well as in client work.
Executive summary
2© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
Key findings
 We see stable or rising engagement levels in regions around the world.
 “Intent to stay,” a main predictor of future turnover, remains stable. While engagement and intent to
stay are directly correlated, the specific dynamics of retention appear to vary significantly from one
region of the world to the next.
 The dynamics of tenure, level and age remain the same – as people grow more experienced and
vested in their work, or more senior in the organization, engagement increases.
 While gender is not a significant factor of engagement in western economies, large gaps in
engagement levels between men and women are apparent in India, the GCC and South America.
 When it comes to drivers of engagement, clarity on the organization’s priorities, getting feedback,
having opportunities to use skills, and career development remain at the top of the list for a majority
of employees. What these factors mean in practice, however, can be deeply personal.
 Globally, a greater percentage of the workforce trust senior leaders and managers. Trust in managers
remains predictably higher than trust in executives.
Recommendations
Following on from our 2011 report, and based on these more recent observations, we recommend that:
 Organizations gain a firm grasp on how engagement can drive their business results in very specific
terms, and adopt a common definition of engagement which makes it something tangible to business
outcomes.
 Senior leaders renew efforts to provide alignment to business strategy by increasing communication
and clarity, as well as providing an inspiring vision for the future.
 Engagement initiatives focus on equipping every level of the workforce, clarifying who is accountable
for what and how best to contribute to a culture of employee engagement.
 Development efforts focus on “career” as a way of aligning long-term employee aspirations with the
organization’s talent needs of tomorrow.
 That managers address disengagement decisively without letting the Disengaged monopolize their
efforts.
3© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
What is engagement anyway?
The term “employee engagement” means different things to different organizations. Some equate it with
job satisfaction, which unfortunately can reflect a transactional relationship that is only as good as the
organization’s last round of perks or bonuses. Others measure engagement by gauging employees’
emotional commitment to their organization. Although commitment is an important ingredient, it is only
one piece of the engagement equation.
While organizations are keen to maximize the contribution of each individual toward corporate
imperatives and metrics, individual employees need to find purpose and satisfaction in their work.
Consequently, BlessingWhite’s engagement model focuses on individuals’:
 contribution to the company’s success, and
 personal satisfaction in their role.
We believe that aligning employees’ values, goals, and aspirations with those of the organization is the
best method for achieving the sustainable employee engagement required for an organization to thrive.
Full engagement represents an alignment of maximum job satisfaction (“I like my work and do it well”)
with maximum job contribution (“I help achieve the goals of my organization”).
Engaged employees are not just committed. They are not just passionate or proud. They have a line-of-
sight on their own future and on the organization’s mission and goals. They are enthused and in gear,
using their talents and discretionary effort to make a difference in their employer’s quest for sustainable
business success.
Full engagement occurs at the
alignment of maximum job satisfaction
and maximum job contribution.
JOB
4© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
Five levels of employee engagement
The index we use to determine
engagement levels contains items that
reflect the two axes of contribution
and satisfaction. By plotting a given
population against the two axes, we
identify 5 distinct employee segments.
Level Description
The Engaged:
High contribution
and high
satisfaction
These employees are at the apex where personal and organizational interests align.
They contribute fully to the success of the organization and find great satisfaction in their
work. They are known for their discretionary effort and commitment. When recruiters
call, they cordially cut the conversation short. Organizations need to keep them
Engaged, because they can transition over time to any of the three adjacent segments,
a move that would likely impact workforce morale and the bottom line.
Almost Engaged:
Medium to high
contribution and
satisfaction
A critical group, these employees are among the high performers and are reasonably
satisfied with their job. They may not have consistent “great days at work,” but they
know what those days look like. Organizations should invest in them for two reasons:
They are highly employable and more likely to be lured away; they have the shortest
distance to travel to reach full engagement, promising the biggest payoff.
Honeymooners 
Hamsters:
High satisfaction
but low
contribution
Honeymooners are new to the organization or their role – and happy to be there. They
have yet to find their stride or clearly understand how they can best contribute. It should
be a priority to move them out of this temporary holding area to full alignment and
productivity.
Hamsters may be working hard, but are in effect spinning their wheels, working on
non-essential tasks, contributing little to the success of the organization. Some may even
be hiding out, curled up in their cedar shavings, content with their position (“retired in
place”). If organizations don’t deal with them, other employees will have to work harder
and may grow resentful.
Crash  Burners:
High contribution
but low
satisfaction
Disillusioned and potentially exhausted, these employees are top producers who aren’t
achieving their personal definition of success and satisfaction. They can be bitterly vocal
that executives are making bad decisions or that colleagues are not pulling their weight.
They may leave, but they are more likely to take a breather and work less hard, slipping
down the contribution scale to become Disengaged. When they do, they often bring
down those around them.
The Disengaged:
Low contribution
and satisfaction
Most Disengaged employees didn’t start out as bad apples. They still may not be. They
are the most disconnected from organizational priorities, often feel underutilized, and
are clearly not getting what they need from work. They’re likely to be skeptical, and
can indulge in contagious negativity. If left alone, the Disengaged are likely to collect
a paycheck while complaining or looking for their next job. If they can’t be coached or
aligned to higher levels of engagement, their exit benefits everyone, including them.
The
Engaged
The
Almost
Engaged
The
Honeymooners
 Hamsters
The Crash 
Burners
The
Disengaged
5© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
Engagement levels by region – 2011 vs. 2012
Findings
In 2012 we witnessed some fairly significant shifts in overall engagement levels within three regions
of the study, with North America, India and China all seeing sizeable gains. While no region saw a
decrease, Europe and Australia/NZ were essentially flat.
Shifts aside, China remains the region with the lowest levels of engagement and India the highest – a
long-standing conclusion that highlights the cultural differences between these two countries and dispels
the usefulness of the BRICS1
nomenclature in developing human capital strategies.
In South America and the GCC – two regions we did not include in previous studies – our first
benchmark would indicate:
 A level of engagement of 37% (similar to Australia) for South America (predominantly Brazil);
 A level of engagement of 33% for the GCC.
1 
BRICS, originally “BRIC” before the inclusion of South Africa in 2010, is the title of an association of emerging national
economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
33%	
  
30%	
  
37%	
  
17%	
  
36%	
  
0	
   0	
  
40%	
  
31%	
  
42%	
  
22%	
  
37%	
   37%	
  
33%	
  
0%	
  
5%	
  
10%	
  
15%	
  
20%	
  
25%	
  
30%	
  
35%	
  
40%	
  
45%	
  
NA	
   EU	
   India	
   China	
   Aus/NZ	
   South	
  
America	
  
Persian	
  Gulf	
  
2011	
   2012	
  
+7pts.	
   +1pts.	
  
+5pts.	
  
+5pts.	
  
+1pt	
  
GCC
6© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
Looking more precisely at the distribution of engagement levels in each of these regions, we also see
differences in profiles:
Engagement levels by region
GCC
7© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
The strong correlation between engagement and retention is well understood. “Intent to stay,” or an
employee’s stated desire to remain with their current employer, is a strong predictor of actual turnover.
It is also an indication of how strongly committed an employee is to their current employer’s success.
Globally, 60% of all employees report that, given the choice, they plan on remaining with their current
organization for the next 12 months. However, this number jumps to 81% among engaged employees
but drops to 23% among the disengaged.
Naturally, those employees that score higher on the satisfaction scale (Engaged, Almost Engaged,
Honeymooners and Hamsters) are most likely to plan on staying. But many factors may influence
intent to stay and turnover, so the relationship is not as straightforward as “the engaged stay and
the disengaged leave.” For instance, it may be perplexing that 2% of Engaged employees intend on
leaving. Conversely, the fact that 23% of the Disengaged plan on staying presents its own issues which
we will discuss in the detailed recommendations starting on page 25. These overall numbers are similar
to previous studies (82% for Engaged and 27% for Disengaged answering “Yes, definitely” in 2011).
Intent to stay (Retention)
Intent to stay – global responses by engagement level
2%	
   5%	
  
17%	
  
9%	
  
32%	
  
17%	
  
33%	
  
46%	
  
36%	
  
46%	
  
81%	
  
63%	
  
36%	
  
55%	
  
23%	
  
0%	
  
10%	
  
20%	
  
30%	
  
40%	
  
50%	
  
60%	
  
70%	
  
80%	
  
90%	
  
100%	
  
Engaged	
  
Alm
ost	
  Engaged	
  
Crash	
  and	
  Burners	
  
Honeym
ooners	
  and	
  Ham
sters	
  
Disengaged	
  
Yes,	
  definitely	
  
Probably	
  
No	
  Way	
  
8© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
When looking at intent to stay across regions, the dynamics of engagement and economic opportunity
start to emerge. While China has relatively low levels of engagement, intent to stay is high (and has
risen since 2011). Conversely, in South America we observe a high level of expected mobility and a
very large percentage of employees hedging their bets.
Intent to stay by region
Region Year No Way Probably Yes, definitely
Australia/New Zealand
2011 15% 34% 51%
2012 12% 26% 62%
North America
2011 13% 32% 56%
2012 12% 33% 55%
India
2011 8% 33% 59%
2012 4% 28% 68%
Europe
2011 14% 38% 48%
2012 12% 37% 51%
South America
2011 – – –
2012 9% 48% 43%
GCC
2011 – – –
2012 13% 37% 50%
China
2011 16% 29% 55%
2012 12% 21% 67%
Global
2011 10% 29% 61%
2012 10% 30% 60%
4%	
  
12%	
   12%	
   12%	
   12%	
   13%	
   9%	
  
28%	
  
21%	
  
26%	
  
33%	
  
37%	
   37%	
   48%	
  
68%	
   67%	
  
62%	
  
55%	
  
51%	
   50%	
  
43%	
  
0%	
  
10%	
  
20%	
  
30%	
  
40%	
  
50%	
  
60%	
  
70%	
  
80%	
  
90%	
  
100%	
  
India	
   China	
   Australia	
  /	
  
New	
  Zealand	
  
North	
  
America	
  
Europe	
   Persian	
  Gulf	
   South	
  
America	
  
Yes,	
  definitely	
  
Probably	
  
No	
  Way	
  
GCCGCCGCC
9© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
Reasons for staying or leaving
The general trend reported previously by BlessingWhite remains true:
The Engaged stay for what they can give, the Disengaged stay for what they can get.
For instance, the Disengaged who intend on staying are less than half as likely to state that the work
they do is what keeps them committed, and four times more likely to quote the economy as the biggest
barrier to leaving. The Disengaged are also twice as likely to reference desirable job conditions,
advantageous benefits or simply “being comfortable here” as reasons for staying.
When it comes to those who are planning on leaving, Career still tops the list – to which we can add
“a desire for change” (which career mobility inside the organization would address). Finally, there
may be some genuine grievances around compensation, but organizations should be very selective in
addressing these based on the individual’s performance on the job.
Reasons to stay for Engaged and Disengaged
Overall Engaged Disengaged
My work. I like the work that I do. 34% 38% 16%
My organization's mission. I believe in what we do. 16% 19% 14%
My career. I have significant development or advancement
opportunities here.
17% 17% 19%
No desire for change. I am comfortable here. 7% 5% 11%
My finances. I expect a desirable salary, bonus, or stock
options.
6% 5% 10%
My manager. I am committed to this person. 5% 5% 5%
My job conditions. I have flexible hours, a good commute,
etc.
7% 5% 10%
The economy. I don't think there are other job opportunities
for me out there.
4% 3% 12%
My colleagues. I have strong relationships on the job. 3% 2% 3%
10© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
Age, role/level, tenure correlation
The dynamics of age, level and tenure have not fundamentally changed. Prima facie, they are proving
to be constants around the world from one study to the next, namely:
1) Engagement increases as you get closer to the top of the organization.
2) Tenure (time with the organization) – engagement increases as employees become more tenured.
3) Time in current role – engagement increases as employees become more vested in their current role.
4) The impact of age – employees become more engaged as they get older.
Reasons to leave for Engaged and Disengaged
Engaged and Disengaged by level in the organization
Overall Engaged Disengaged
My career. I don't have opportunities to grow or advance
here.
26% 27% 25%
My finances. I want to earn more money. 16% 22% 12%
My work. I don't like what I do or it doesn't make the most of
my talents.
15% 6% 24%
My desire for change. I want to try something new. 13% 15% 9%
My manager. I don't like working for him or her. 10% 7% 13%
My job conditions. I don't have the flexibility, commute, etc.,
that I need.
8% 10% 7%
The economy. I think better jobs in my field are available. 6% 9% 4%
My organization's mission. It conflicts with my personal
values.
4% 2% 5%
My colleagues. I don't want to work with or around them. 2% 3% 2%
Level in the Organization % Engaged % Disengaged
Executive (Vice President or above) 59% 9%
Director 41% 12%
Team Leader/Tech Lead/Project Manager 39% 14%
Manager/Supervisor 39% 12%
Consultant 33% 16%
Specialist/Professional/Engineer 29% 20%
Administrative/Clerical 27% 21%
11© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
While engagement levels typically increase as you climb the ladder in an organization, disengagement
in more senior ranks can have a broad-reaching impact on performance, so organizations looking
at engagement should not make the common mistake of focusing purely on the front line of the
organization. 59% Engaged at the Executive level still leaves 41% who could benefit from engagement
efforts.
One dead battery will not jump-start another. You cannot sustain engagement down into the ranks of the
organization with disengaged executives or directors.
Engaged and Disengaged by job tenure (time in current role)
Engagement levels by tenure with company (time with current employer)
In both cases (time in current job and time with current employer), the longer an employee has been
committed to their current job or employer the higher the levels of reported engagement.
12© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
We do find that looking at these demographics in isolation is somewhat misleading. Age, tenure and
seniority are closely related, so it helps to view this as a progression. As employees become more
tenured, more experienced in their role, and more secure in their own skills and capabilities, they are
able to achieve higher levels of engagement. In a way this trend is to be expected: employees who do
not find satisfaction in a role will be more likely to leave their employer or change jobs.
Understanding this dynamic informs our engagement efforts.
As individuals progress through their personal careers, their focus (in terms of both contribution and
satisfaction) evolves. This is particularly important to understand when developing initiatives around:
 Career strategies
 Onboarding/induction
 Internal communication efforts
 Succession planning/promotions
Organizations that have closely studied their own internal engagement dynamics have discovered
that there are pivotal points in tenure, when the loss of valuable talent is more likely. These “danger
zones” are often department- or function-specific, tend to be in the 3- to 5-year window, and are often
correlated to employee age.
Knowing when these higher-risk windows occur allows organizations to be proactive in coaching
employees through these periods in order to retain critical talent.
Engagement levels by age
13© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
Gender
In previous reports we observed how gender was not a strong predictor of engagement (i.e., women
and men had the same overall engagement levels and patterns) in North America and Europe.
Elsewhere in the world, however, there are geographies with significant gender differences:
For instance, this chart indicates that in North America men tend to be marginally more Disengaged
(2 pts.) and very slightly less likely to be Engaged than women (1 pt.), whereas in India men are
substantially more likely to be Engaged (11 pts.) and significantly less likely to be Disengaged (8 pts.)
than their female counterparts.
As we detail in The Engagement Equation, there are still significant gender gaps in many societies. Far
from being a barrier for employers, we believe this represents a significant opportunity for developing
a purposeful internal culture that respects diversity and includes all employees in achieving the
organization’s goals.
Engagement gender gap: point difference between percentage of men and women engaged/disengaged
2%	
  
-­‐3%	
  
3%	
  
2%	
  
-­‐8%	
  
-­‐6%	
  
-­‐2%	
  -­‐1%	
  
3%	
  
-­‐4%	
  
5%	
  
11%	
  
7%	
   7%	
  
-­‐9%	
  
-­‐4%	
  
1%	
  
6%	
  
11%	
  
North	
  
America	
  
Europe	
   Australia	
  /	
  
New	
  Zealand	
  
China	
   India	
   Persian	
  Gulf	
   South	
  
America	
  
Disengaged	
   Engaged	
  
GCC
14© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
Satisfaction and contribution drivers
Contribution
When asked to “Choose the item that would most improve your performance,” two items compete for
first place: access to more resources and greater clarity on what the organization is expecting. These
two items are clearly split based on engagement levels, with those already contributing highly looking
for more resources.
Top contribution drivers by engagement level
Engaged
Almost
Engaged
Crash and
Burners
Honey-
mooners
and
Hamsters
Disengaged Overall
Greater clarity about
what the organization
needs me to do – and
why
15% 19% 18% 31% 28% 20%
More resources 23% 20% 22% 12% 14% 20%
Regular, specific feed-
back about how I'm
doing
21% 20% 13% 23% 13% 19%
Development opportuni-
ties and training
17% 18% 22% 14% 19% 18%
A coach or a mentor
other than my manager
12% 11% 13% 10% 13% 11%
Better communication
with my manager
6% 7% 7% 8% 9% 7%
A better relationship
with my coworkers
5% 5% 5% 3% 5% 5%
While contribution drivers do vary significantly based on engagement levels, they also vary based on
the regions we studied, and this should inform how an engagement strategy may be adjusted to be
relevant to a regional office or facility (see next page).
15© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
Top 3 contribution drivers by region (across all engagement levels)
North
America
Europe China India GCC Australia/NZ
South
America
1. More
resources
1. More
resources
1. Regular,
specific feed-
back about
how I’m
doing
1. Greater
clarity about
what the
organization
needs me
to do – and
why
1. Develop-
ment oppor-
tunities and
training
1. Develop-
ment oppor-
tunities and
training
1. Develop-
ment oppor-
tunities and
training
2. Greater
clarity about
what the
organization
needs me
to do – and
why
2. A coach or
a mentor
other than
my manager
2. Develop-
ment oppor-
tunities and
training
2. Regular,
specific feed-
back about
how I’m
doing
2. Greater
clarity about
what the
organization
needs me
to do – and
why
2. More
resources
2. Regular,
specific feed-
back about
how I’m
doing
3. A coach or
a mentor
other than
my manager
3. Regular,
specific
feedback
about how
I’m doing
/ Greater
clarity about
what the
organization
needs me
to do – and
why [Tied for
3rd place]
3. Greater
clarity about
what the
organization
needs me
to do – and
why
3. Develop-
ment oppor-
tunities and
training
3. Regular,
specific feed-
back about
how I’m
doing
3. Regular,
specific feed-
back about
how I’m
doing
3. Greater
clarity about
what the
organization
needs me
to do – and
why
16© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
Top satisfaction drivers by engagement level
Satisfaction
Engaged
Almost
Engaged
Crash and
Burners
Honey-
mooners
and
Hamsters
Disengaged Overall
More opportunities to do
what I do best
24% 24% 25% 25% 23% 24%
Career development
opportunities and train-
ing
24% 25% 26% 21% 23% 24%
More flexible job condi-
tions (e.g., control over
how my work gets done,
flex time, telecommuting)
13% 11% 12% 10% 11% 11%
More challenging work 11% 10% 11% 10% 11% 11%
Improved cooperation
among my coworkers
10% 8% 6% 5% 7% 8%
Greater clarity about
what the organization
needs me to do – and
why
6% 8% 6% 14% 11% 8%
Greater clarity about my
own work preferences
and career goals
7% 8% 8% 8% 8% 7%
A better relationship with
my manager
6% 6% 6% 8% 7% 6%
It is worth noting that while “Improved cooperation among my coworkers” is chosen by 8% of
employees overall, it is chosen by 14% of Executives (VP and above) as the item most likely to improve
their satisfaction. This points to a deepening divergence of agendas and a clash of personalities higher
up in organizations.
17© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
Top 3 satisfaction drivers by region (across all engagement levels)
North
America
Europe China India GCC Australia/NZ
South
America
1. More
opportuni-
ties to do
what I do
best
1. More
opportuni-
ties to do
what I do
best
1. Career
develop-
ment oppor-
tunities and
training
1. Career
develop-
ment oppor-
tunities and
training
1. Career
develop-
ment oppor-
tunities and
training
1. Career
develop-
ment oppor-
tunities and
training
1. Career
develop-
ment oppor-
tunities and
training
2. Career
develop-
ment oppor-
tunities and
training
2. Career
develop-
ment oppor-
tunities and
training
2. More
opportuni-
ties to do
what I do
best
2. More
opportuni-
ties to do
what I do
best
2. More
opportuni-
ties to do
what I do
best
2. More
opportuni-
ties to do
what I do
best
2. More
opportuni-
ties to do
what I do
best
3. More flex-
ible job
conditions
3. More flex-
ible job
conditions
3. Greater
clarity
about my
own work
preferences
and career
goals
3. More chal-
lenging
work
3. More chal-
lenging
work
3. More flex-
ible job
conditions
3. Greater
clarity
about what
the orga-
nization
needs me
to do – and
why
Unlike contribution drivers, there is significant agreement on what would increase personal satisfaction:
“More opportunities to do what I do best” and “Career development opportunities and training” rank
highest in every region we studied.
Career
We articulated in previous research reports the importance of career to individuals, and the opportunity
that exists for organizations to take the lead in defining career to align with the organization’s long-
term talent requirements. Our 2012 data indicates that, worldwide, employees reporting having greater
career opportunities than they did in early 2011 – today 59% of respondents agree or strongly agree to
the statement, “I have career opportunities in this organization.” In 2011 only 50% agreed.
“I have career opportunities in this organization” 2011 vs. 2012
21%	
   19%	
  
29%	
  
22%	
  
50%	
   59%	
  
0%	
  
20%	
  
40%	
  
60%	
  
80%	
  
100%	
  
2011	
   2012	
  
Agree	
  or	
  Strongly	
  
Agree	
  
Neither	
  Agree/
Disagree	
  
Disagree	
  or	
  Strongly	
  
Disagree	
  
18© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
It’s clear that having career opportunities is a strong contributor to satisfaction for employees, but it’s
also a strong indicator of whether or not employees see opportunities to align their skills and ambitions
to the organization’s talent needs.
“I have career opportunities in this organization” by engagement level – 2012
“I have career opportunities in this organization” by region - 2012
8%	
   13%	
  
30%	
  
22%	
  
45%	
  
14%	
  
22%	
  
29%	
  
30%	
  
30%	
  78%	
  
65%	
  
41%	
  
48%	
  
25%	
  
0%	
  
10%	
  
20%	
  
30%	
  
40%	
  
50%	
  
60%	
  
70%	
  
80%	
  
90%	
  
100%	
  
Engaged	
  Alm
ost	
  Engaged	
  Crash	
  and	
  Burners	
  
Honeym
ooners	
  and	
  Ham
sters	
  
Disengaged	
  
Agree	
  or	
  Strongly	
  Agree	
  
Neither	
  Agree/Disagree	
  
Disagree	
  or	
  Strongly	
  Disagree	
  
21%	
  
8%	
  
28%	
  
7%	
  
28%	
   23%	
   22%	
  
28%	
  
25%	
  
26%	
  
17%	
  
24%	
  
26%	
  
11%	
  
51%	
  
67%	
  
46%	
  
75%	
  
48%	
   51%	
  
68%	
  
0%	
  
10%	
  
20%	
  
30%	
  
40%	
  
50%	
  
60%	
  
70%	
  
80%	
  
90%	
  
100%	
  
Australia	
  /	
  
New	
  
Zealand	
  
China	
   Europe	
   India	
   North	
  
America	
  
Persian	
  
Gulf	
  
South	
  
America	
  
Agree	
  or	
  Strongly	
  Agree	
  
Neither	
  Agree/Disagree	
  
Disagree	
  or	
  Strongly	
  Disagree	
  
GCC
19© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
Trust in Managers
The following graph speaks volumes about the correlation between manager trust and engagement.
Looking at global data, we see a very tight relationship between engagement levels and manager trust:
While this in itself does not point to causation it stands to reason that managers who develop an
awareness of trust, and how to earn it, will have much greater success in engaging their team members.
If we look at change since 2011, we notice an improvement in trust levels across the board with the
biggest shift among the Crash  Burn group and a smaller gain among the Disengaged and Almost
Engaged:
“I trust my manager” responses by engagement level – 2012
“I trust my manager” favorable responses by engagement level, 2011 vs. 2012
Agree or
Strongly Agree
2011 2012
Engaged 89% 90%
Almost Engaged 81% 84%
Crash  Burners 63% 70%
Honeymooners  Hamsters 70% 70%
Disengaged 48% 51%
20© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
While trust in one’s immediate manager varies from one region of the world to the next, managers
generally enjoy decent levels of trust:
“I trust my manager” responses by region - 2012
Managers: the importance of being known
As part of our ongoing research, we have focused increasingly on the relationship between the
individual and their immediate manager. We have found compelling correlations between an employee
knowing their manager well as a person and key working dynamics such as effective use of talents,
rewards and recognition, providing regular feedback etc.
So who benefits the most from getting to know their manager as a person?
We asked respondents to rank their manager on a number of important aspects of their working
relationship such as delegating tasks and utilizing talents. We also asked them how well they knew their
manager as a person. By cross-referencing the two we can see clear patterns of who most benefits from
knowing their boss better.
Naturally this correlation between knowing your manager as a person and working effectively day-to-
day is closely correlated to engagement. While they do benefit greatly, Engaged employees appear
much more tolerant of not knowing their manager as a person. When it comes to scoring their direct
manager on these 8 critical items, the gap between engaged employees who know their manager well
and those who don’t is not nearly as large as the gap for the other 4 less-engaged segments.
11%	
  
3%	
  
12%	
  
5%	
  
14%	
   14%	
   11%	
  
13%	
  
11%	
  
17%	
  
11%	
  
12%	
   12%	
   16%	
  
76%	
  
86%	
  
71%	
  
84%	
  
74%	
   74%	
   73%	
  
0%	
  
10%	
  
20%	
  
30%	
  
40%	
  
50%	
  
60%	
  
70%	
  
80%	
  
90%	
  
100%	
  
Aus	
  /	
  NZ	
   China	
   Europe	
   India	
   North	
  
America	
  
Persian	
  
Gulf	
  
South	
  
America	
  
Agree	
  /	
  Strongly	
  Agree	
  
Neither	
  Agree/Disagree	
  
Disagree	
  /	
  Strongly	
  Disagree	
  
GCC
21© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
So while engaged employees have other factors to hold onto (interesting work, a sense of contribution,
career hopes), less-engaged employees are far more dependent on knowing their manager as a person
to reach higher levels of engagement. This becomes apparent if we look at the average gap over all 8
of the factors in our most recent study, by engagement level:
So what does this mean in practice? While companies focus on equipping managers with tactical skills
such as delegation or matching individual talents to tasks, engagement is driven more effectively through
leadership and connection skills. Particularly difficult for a manager is the challenge of authenticity
– because they are typically being taught how to behave, how to “play a role.” In actual fact, it’s
becoming better known as a person to their direct reports – not being the person they think they ought
to be – that will build the relationship needed to increase engagement.
Trust in executives
The way that employees interact with and perceive senior executives is very different from their
relationship with their manager. It is important for us to understand this distinction in equipping every
level of an organization to build a culture of engagement.
Average gap in manager favorability between those who report knowing their manager well and those who don’t
– 2012
Engaged
Almost
Engaged
Crash and
Burners
Honeymoon-
ers and
Hamsters
Disengaged Grand Total
China 14% 10% 19% 12% 46% 30%
Aus/NZ 37% 46% 37% 57% 79% 54%
India 47% 51% 63% 67% 58% 58%
North
America
41% 49% 56% 59% 64% 59%
South
America
33% 56% 60% 15% 43% 48%
GCC 16% 33% 57% 61% 61% 46%
Europe 22% 48% 47% 59% 59% 52%
Global 22% 48% 47% 59% 59% 52%
22© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
At a high level, trust in senior leaders has seen a slight increase overall, from 61% to 65% of employees
who agree or strongly agree with the statement “I trust the senior leaders of this organization.” As we
might expect this also correlates closely to engagement levels:
2011 2012
Engaged 85% 85%
Almost Engaged 68% 70%
Crash  Burners 40% 47%
Honeymooners  Hamsters 57% 56%
Disengaged 27% 30%
Total 61% 65%
“I trust senior leaders in this organization” responses by region – 2012
20%	
  
4%	
  
25%	
  
7%	
  
22%	
   18%	
   15%	
  
22%	
  
18%	
  
25%	
  
15%	
  
21%	
  
21%	
   20%	
  
57%	
  
78%	
  
50%	
  
78%	
  
57%	
   62%	
   65%	
  
0%	
  
10%	
  
20%	
  
30%	
  
40%	
  
50%	
  
60%	
  
70%	
  
80%	
  
90%	
  
100%	
  
Aus	
  /	
  NZ	
   China	
   Europe	
   India	
   North	
  
America	
  
Persian	
  Gulf	
   South	
  
America	
  
Disagree	
  /	
  Strongly	
  Disagree	
   Neither	
  Agree/Disagree	
   Agree	
  /	
  Strongly	
  Agree	
  
GCC
23© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
What are executives (perceived to be) good at? And where are they
weak?
While executives do not get to interact one-on-one with every employee, their role in building a culture
of engagement is pivotal. Setting the tone, fostering a purposeful culture and establishing an inspiring
vision of the future are all important prerequisites to building engagement across the enterprise.
Along with trust levels, employees are scoring senior leaders marginally better on the four key
engagement actions we have tracked between studies:
% agree or
strongly agree
Change
since 2011
(percentage
points)
Gap between the
Engaged
and Disengaged
who agree
(percentage
points)
Senior leaders act in alignment with our organiza-
tion’s core values or guiding principles.
61% +2 17
Senior leaders communicate honestly. 56% +3 18
Senior leaders link the work of the organization to a
larger purpose.
62% +2 18
Senior leaders have created a work environment
that drives high performance.
50% +1 20
24© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
Notes
25© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
As we continue to track employee trends around the world, we are watching the evolution of the
employee/employer relationship through economic cycles. But 3 key elements are essential to informing
our approach to developing an engagement strategy:
1) How an employee relates to his or her job and employer (current and future).
2) How managers work with individual employees to address individual engagement drivers and foster
positive team dynamics.
3) How executives create an inspiring vision for the future and foster a purposeful culture that makes
engagement a core driver of business results.
Engagement needs to be part of your culture
Organizations that have made substantive progress in fueling business success through employee
engagement have approached this transformation as a culture change exercise. They may not explicitly
describe it that way, but the transformation was the result of a deliberate focus on establishing a
foundation of employee engagement and driving engagement at every level of the organization. In the
most successful organizations, engagement and results are discussed regularly – in the same breath.
We identify 6 main elements for building a culture of engagement. While these are not lockstep phases
in a process, there is a natural sequence:
Recommendations
Take
Action
Build
Commitment
Create
Engagement
Champions
Equip
People
Measure
Progress
Align
Practices
26© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
Build Commitment Does your organization have a shared, actionable defi-
nition and a common language for discussing engage-
ment? Most don’t, yet engage in extensive post-survey
action planning.
In building commitment you need to clarify what you and
your company are committing to – and why it is impor-
tant. Start with the business case and securing Senior
Leader Buy-In.
Create Engagement Champions Unless your organization is small, you cannot build a cul-
ture of engagement on your own, even with the support
of senior leaders. Champions allow your organization to:
} Expand the engagement message reach.
} Educate colleagues on what engagement is, why it is
important, and how to influence it.
} Help leaders interpret, communicate, and act on survey
findings.
} Support managers as they tackle engagement with their
teams.
} Help in gathering insights and feedback from the front
lines.
Equip People It may seem obvious, but if you need people to play par-
ticular roles, you must prepare them to do so. Everyone
needs to understand those expectations and assume own-
ership of their piece of the puzzle. Provide the context,
articulate the vision and equip every level.
Align Practices Too often, engagement is undermined by policies and
practices that drive only results – or are simply painfully
bureaucratic. Successful culture change requires that your
operational engine drive engagement as well as your
strategic priorities.
Measure Progress So how will you know if you are succeeding in creating
a culture of engagement? Engagement surveys, pulse sur-
veys, and the metrics you use already to run your busi-
ness can provide insights.
Stay close to the financial, customer, value chain, and
human capital metrics that your organization already
tracks. You may not be able to determine that higher
engagement is explicitly driving success, but you will be
able to show a strong correlation between your engage-
ment efforts and improved numbers that matter.
Take Action If you’re measuring progress toward creating a culture of
engagement well, you’ll end up with actionable insights.
Encouraging dialogue and planning at the team level
provides a valuable feedback loop.
The aim of this phase is to transition from a corporate
objective (creating a culture of engagement) to actions
that will tackle engagement at the local level.
27© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
A Daily Priority: the IME approach
If you want to build a culture of engagement you need to move away from a survey-driven process that
results in lists of remedial actions assigned to ill-prepared managers.
If engagement is to become a daily priority, it has to be a shared responsibility. Leaders and managers
cannot and should not shoulder the entire burden of engaging your workforce. Every member needs to
play a role (or several roles), as individuals (I), managers (M), or executives (E).
So you must develop a focus on engagement which maps out roles and responsibilities at each level of
the organization.
Individuals
At the individual level, drivers of satisfaction and contribution will vary, as will longer-term aspirations
and career goals. While the organization can help an individual examine and gain clarity on these, it
does demand a partnership and a proactive participation from the individual. No individual can expect
the organization to make them engaged.
Individuals need to ACT on engagement, namely:
 Assess their skills, strengths, career goals and current priorities.
 Communicate with their manager to ensure alignment and put together a plan on how to address
their personal engagement drivers to reach higher levels of contribution and satisfaction.
 Take action – with their manager’s support start to change those items they can and track their
progress throughout the year.
Managers
Managers tend to be on the sharp end of the wedge when it comes to engagement. They are under
pressure from senior management to produce results, burdened with expectations that they can engage
their teams, and often divided between managing others and completing their own tasks. When the
annual engagement survey rolls around it’s on their shoulders that the action plans land, and typically
they have been given little context and no option about participating or not. Finally, managers need to
worry about their own personal engagement equation.
Managers need to CARE about engagement, namely:
 Coach individuals toward maximum contribution and satisfaction.
 Align and constantly realign individuals to the organization’s strategy, mission, and values.
 Recognize attitude, effort, and results.
 Engage in dialogue about what’s important to both parties, while at the same time engaging
themselves.
28© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
There is an important caveat to the CARE model. Managers must drop the veil of their position or title,
and become better known to employees. That doesn’t necessarily mean being their buddy. But it does
mean sharing personal motivation for work, challenges, appropriate weaknesses, the reasons they came
to your organization, and why they stay there.
Engagement is a case of give and take – of gaining satisfaction and giving contribution. Once
engagement has been achieved there are many factors that may cause it to get out of balance, one
being the constant shifting and redirecting of organizational strategy and direction. As each department
or team changes tack, it is up to the manager to ensure that employees make course corrections to stay
aligned with the most immediate priorities.
Executives
Executives are not in the position to coach and align the personal interests of each and every employee.
They must set the direction that the workforce aligns to, communicate that direction to ensure a clear
line-of-sight throughout your organization, and create a culture that fuels engagement and business
results. They must also fulfill the role of manager and individual as previously described. We understand
that this is a tall order.
We need to look at the priorities of executives in leading a workforce to higher engagement from the
perspective of the leaders’ followers. Our focus therefore is not on the intrinsic qualities that make an
effective leader but instead is about asking, “What are the needs of followers that a leader needs to
fulfill?” We find it useful to talk about how you build your CASE (Community, Authenticity, Significance,
and Excitement). These are core needs of the 21st century workforce (the followers) and are useful in
delivering results as well as engagement:
 Community for a sense of belonging and purpose
 Authenticity as a basis for trust and inspiration
 Significance to recognize individuals’ contribution
 Excitement to constantly encourage – and raise the bar on – high performance
29© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
Organizational practices
Finally, you need to take a look at the organizational level and critically revisit policies, practices and
procedures and ask yourself: do these help or hinder in our engagement efforts?
A common list of practices that we find fail to support engagement in many corporations include:
 Onboarding processes that fail to initiate a true dialogue around priorities and work preferences.
 Performance management processes that boil down to awkward form-filling by managers and a once-
a-year scorecard that fails to truly align employees to the organization’s priorities.
 Career processes that are driven by current opportunities and not individual potential.
 Bureaucratic reporting systems and data collection that nobody challenges, and that add no value
but have become a fixture.
 Hiring/firing practices that encourage managers to retain a low-performing team member rather than
seek to replace him or her with a higher-potential candidate.
Alignment is key
Increasingly, we find that a key to building engagement in most organizations is a focus on alignment.
Never assume that staff understand and are able to align to what the organization needs. Many
employees report “Greater clarity about what the organization needs me to do – and why” as a top
driver of contribution.
Furthermore, it is being able to contribute and know that this contribution is recognized that drives an
employee’s satisfaction. In this sense contribution and satisfaction are mutually reinforcing. So while
many organizations approach engagement from the perspective of “what will make our employees more
satisfied,” the answer is sometimes surprising: it’s more opportunities to contribute! But opportunities that
are also in line with the aspirations and strengths of the individual.
Less, less, more, more – collect the data you need to understand local
needs and take action
Having the right data to inform your engagement efforts is important, especially if this data allows you
to draw a straight line between engagement levels and organizational outputs. But beware: the survey
scores are not the prize, and there is a risk of letting survey scores dictate rather than inform your
efforts. Consequently we recommend:
 Less benchmarking – achieving specific engagement targets or getting a passable scorecard is not
the goal.
 Fewer items in surveys – the survey process is too often used as a catch-all.
 More frequent sampling so that engagement scores can effectively be used as a dashboard metric
and not just a once-a-year audit.
 More strategic: the engagement metrics need to be directly tied to the business’s current ambitions
and strategic efforts.
30© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
Dialogue on career pays off
Career (in the broad sense) remains high on every employee’s list of needs. As we detailed in the
previous pages, two factors consistently top the list of satisfaction drivers for employees in nearly every
region in the world and across every engagement level: “career development opportunities and training”
and “more opportunities to do what I do best.” See the table called Top 3 Satisfaction Drivers by region
(across all engagement levels) on page 17.
Yet career development is often dismissed by management for several reasons: employees job hop,
business plans change, the economy makes long-term planning difficult, and budgets simply aren’t
available for career initiatives.
While more people report having career opportunities today than in 2011, employees are largely
cynical about their employer’s attempts to support their careers and disappointed by the resources they
receive. For the most part, they believe, they will forge a career in spite of their company’s policies and
procedures.
But dig deeper, and you find that what is lacking is clarity: Most employees do not have clarity around
their career aspirations or drivers of job satisfaction.
As traditional career ladders disappear, it becomes important for organizations to help define the
primary guideposts that individuals should use to redefine and navigate today’s uncharted career
landscape. Employees who are truly striving to achieve full engagement for their own sake would
ideally stop looking to a new employer and start developing a personal career path or series of projects
internally, in accordance with the company’s shifting priorities.
The bottom line: if employees understand what matters to them, what they offer, and where they can
make a difference for their employer, they will be better able to make the right choices – and also
position themselves as the right people to get the work done.
Savvy enterprises see a bigger picture: career development is one critical piece in a more complex
talent management strategy that often includes succession planning, performance management,
redeployment, and targeted development to make sure the organization performs as its markets evolve.
When employees see career as encompassing lateral moves, skill development, stretch assignments, and
special projects – not just promotions or advancement – they will find more satisfying opportunities with
you, their current employer. If you provide an exciting journey, people will stop wondering about what
the stops are called along the way.
31© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
Start by establishing three cornerstones of career development success:
1. Individuals must own their careers and not rely on their employers or managers to take the initiative.
2. The organization must have a point of view about career development, and provide the tools and
structure that allow employees to develop in their careers in the context of what the organization
needs.
3. Managers stand at the crossroads where their team members’ capabilities and goals meet
the organization’s priorities. They need to understand and buy-in to the organization’s career
development point of view. They also must be competent and confident in supporting (not directing)
employees’ career journeys. It is the role of your managers to help employees realistically align their
aspirations with the organization’s goals.
Disengaged cause drag: coach up or coach out
Every sizable organization will have a proportion of its workforce in the Disengaged group. This is
simply the dynamics of a modern workforce.
It is tempting to invest a lot of time in re-engaging this group, but that is rarely the best use of time.
Disengagement is contagious and causes drag in terms of low contribution, and failing to address
disengagement may be a tacit signal that the organization (or the manager) tolerates sub-par
performance.
So what is a manager to do with a Disengaged team member? The answer is to coach up or coach out.
Coach up
Give the employee the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with the manager and address the root
cause of their disengagement, seeking ways to contribute at a higher level – and in doing so get to
higher levels of engagement.
Coach out
If the employee has turned an emotional corner and is unwilling to make the effort (or if the job fit is
truly so bad that course correction is not enough) then it will be better for both parties to part ways.
At the end of the day, a Disengaged employee should be given the two options above. The third option
of staying put and doing nothing should not be on the table.
32© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13.
This report is based on 7,068 responses from around the world. Regions reported are those where
sufficient number of responses were collected to provide meaningful regional analysis. South America
and the GCC were not reported separately in the 2011 report.
Methodology
Our online survey consisted of 27 multiple-choice items. Everyone answered the first 25 items. The
remaining items varied based on respondents’ answers to item 25, which explored intent to stay.
The survey link was emailed to European and North American respondents in May to August 2012 and
to Asian respondents in September to November 2012. Individuals invited to respond represented a
cross-section of geographic regions, job functions, roles, and industries.
To round out the multi-layered workforce perspective, we conducted about 30 interviews with HR and
line leaders around the world. Many of these interviews were also featured in our 2012 book The
Engagement Equation (Wiley).
Global respondent profile
 7,068 respondent included in the study
 12% reside in China, 38% in North America, 27% in India, 10% in Europe, 4% in Australia/New
Zealand, 4% from the GCC, and 3.1% from South America
 49% are female, 51% male
 65% hold executive, management, or supervisory titles, with 9% indicating that they are a vice
president or above
 32% are Baby Boomers or earlier (born 1930 - 1964), 33% are Generation X (born 1965 - 1977),
and 35% are Generation Y or Millennials (born 1978 - 1994)
 22% work in organizations that employ more than 10,000 people and 57% work for organizations
with fewer than 5,000 people
 49% indicated that all or most of their team works at the same location, with only 13% labeling
themselves as virtual workers
 44% have worked three years or less with their employer, and 31% have been with their
organizations for more than 7 years
 One in four (24%) have held their position for less than a year and 14% of employees have held
their position for more than 7 years
 Less than one in five respondents (17%) work in a union environment
About this report
A Division of GP Strategies

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Employe Engagement Research Update by BlessingWhite

  • 1. Employee Engagement Research Update Beyond the numbers: A practical approach for individuals, managers, and executives January 2013
  • 2. © 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13 rev2. Copying and distribution — both printed and electronic — is prohibited without express written permission from BlessingWhite, Princeton, NJ, USA. 908-904-1000. In Europe, tel: +44 (0) 1628 660397. For distribution requests please contact info@blessingwhite.com. Contents This report is provided as part of BlessingWhite Intelligence, a series of reports on business and workplace issues. You can explore other topics by visiting www.blessingwhite.com/research. Executive summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 What is engagement anyway? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Findings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Intent to stay (Retention) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 About this report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
  • 3. 1© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. In early 2011 BlessingWhite published a comprehensive report examining the dynamics of engagement around the world. The report generated a lot of interest with over 30,000 people downloading it from the BlessingWhite website. We are pleased to provide an update to that report based on data collected over the summer and autumn of 2012. This Employee Engagement Report research update reflects online survey responses of over 7,000 individuals from around the world. Details on our methodology and the global respondent profile appear in About this Report on page 32. It further complements the methodology and employee engagement best practices we explore in our October 2012 book The Engagement Equation: Leadership Strategies for an Inspired Workforce. The recommendations in this report reflect the approaches that we explored in the interviews for the book as well as in client work. Executive summary
  • 4. 2© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. Key findings  We see stable or rising engagement levels in regions around the world.  “Intent to stay,” a main predictor of future turnover, remains stable. While engagement and intent to stay are directly correlated, the specific dynamics of retention appear to vary significantly from one region of the world to the next.  The dynamics of tenure, level and age remain the same – as people grow more experienced and vested in their work, or more senior in the organization, engagement increases.  While gender is not a significant factor of engagement in western economies, large gaps in engagement levels between men and women are apparent in India, the GCC and South America.  When it comes to drivers of engagement, clarity on the organization’s priorities, getting feedback, having opportunities to use skills, and career development remain at the top of the list for a majority of employees. What these factors mean in practice, however, can be deeply personal.  Globally, a greater percentage of the workforce trust senior leaders and managers. Trust in managers remains predictably higher than trust in executives. Recommendations Following on from our 2011 report, and based on these more recent observations, we recommend that:  Organizations gain a firm grasp on how engagement can drive their business results in very specific terms, and adopt a common definition of engagement which makes it something tangible to business outcomes.  Senior leaders renew efforts to provide alignment to business strategy by increasing communication and clarity, as well as providing an inspiring vision for the future.  Engagement initiatives focus on equipping every level of the workforce, clarifying who is accountable for what and how best to contribute to a culture of employee engagement.  Development efforts focus on “career” as a way of aligning long-term employee aspirations with the organization’s talent needs of tomorrow.  That managers address disengagement decisively without letting the Disengaged monopolize their efforts.
  • 5. 3© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. What is engagement anyway? The term “employee engagement” means different things to different organizations. Some equate it with job satisfaction, which unfortunately can reflect a transactional relationship that is only as good as the organization’s last round of perks or bonuses. Others measure engagement by gauging employees’ emotional commitment to their organization. Although commitment is an important ingredient, it is only one piece of the engagement equation. While organizations are keen to maximize the contribution of each individual toward corporate imperatives and metrics, individual employees need to find purpose and satisfaction in their work. Consequently, BlessingWhite’s engagement model focuses on individuals’:  contribution to the company’s success, and  personal satisfaction in their role. We believe that aligning employees’ values, goals, and aspirations with those of the organization is the best method for achieving the sustainable employee engagement required for an organization to thrive. Full engagement represents an alignment of maximum job satisfaction (“I like my work and do it well”) with maximum job contribution (“I help achieve the goals of my organization”). Engaged employees are not just committed. They are not just passionate or proud. They have a line-of- sight on their own future and on the organization’s mission and goals. They are enthused and in gear, using their talents and discretionary effort to make a difference in their employer’s quest for sustainable business success. Full engagement occurs at the alignment of maximum job satisfaction and maximum job contribution. JOB
  • 6. 4© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. Five levels of employee engagement The index we use to determine engagement levels contains items that reflect the two axes of contribution and satisfaction. By plotting a given population against the two axes, we identify 5 distinct employee segments. Level Description The Engaged: High contribution and high satisfaction These employees are at the apex where personal and organizational interests align. They contribute fully to the success of the organization and find great satisfaction in their work. They are known for their discretionary effort and commitment. When recruiters call, they cordially cut the conversation short. Organizations need to keep them Engaged, because they can transition over time to any of the three adjacent segments, a move that would likely impact workforce morale and the bottom line. Almost Engaged: Medium to high contribution and satisfaction A critical group, these employees are among the high performers and are reasonably satisfied with their job. They may not have consistent “great days at work,” but they know what those days look like. Organizations should invest in them for two reasons: They are highly employable and more likely to be lured away; they have the shortest distance to travel to reach full engagement, promising the biggest payoff. Honeymooners Hamsters: High satisfaction but low contribution Honeymooners are new to the organization or their role – and happy to be there. They have yet to find their stride or clearly understand how they can best contribute. It should be a priority to move them out of this temporary holding area to full alignment and productivity. Hamsters may be working hard, but are in effect spinning their wheels, working on non-essential tasks, contributing little to the success of the organization. Some may even be hiding out, curled up in their cedar shavings, content with their position (“retired in place”). If organizations don’t deal with them, other employees will have to work harder and may grow resentful. Crash Burners: High contribution but low satisfaction Disillusioned and potentially exhausted, these employees are top producers who aren’t achieving their personal definition of success and satisfaction. They can be bitterly vocal that executives are making bad decisions or that colleagues are not pulling their weight. They may leave, but they are more likely to take a breather and work less hard, slipping down the contribution scale to become Disengaged. When they do, they often bring down those around them. The Disengaged: Low contribution and satisfaction Most Disengaged employees didn’t start out as bad apples. They still may not be. They are the most disconnected from organizational priorities, often feel underutilized, and are clearly not getting what they need from work. They’re likely to be skeptical, and can indulge in contagious negativity. If left alone, the Disengaged are likely to collect a paycheck while complaining or looking for their next job. If they can’t be coached or aligned to higher levels of engagement, their exit benefits everyone, including them. The Engaged The Almost Engaged The Honeymooners Hamsters The Crash Burners The Disengaged
  • 7. 5© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. Engagement levels by region – 2011 vs. 2012 Findings In 2012 we witnessed some fairly significant shifts in overall engagement levels within three regions of the study, with North America, India and China all seeing sizeable gains. While no region saw a decrease, Europe and Australia/NZ were essentially flat. Shifts aside, China remains the region with the lowest levels of engagement and India the highest – a long-standing conclusion that highlights the cultural differences between these two countries and dispels the usefulness of the BRICS1 nomenclature in developing human capital strategies. In South America and the GCC – two regions we did not include in previous studies – our first benchmark would indicate:  A level of engagement of 37% (similar to Australia) for South America (predominantly Brazil);  A level of engagement of 33% for the GCC. 1 BRICS, originally “BRIC” before the inclusion of South Africa in 2010, is the title of an association of emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. 33%   30%   37%   17%   36%   0   0   40%   31%   42%   22%   37%   37%   33%   0%   5%   10%   15%   20%   25%   30%   35%   40%   45%   NA   EU   India   China   Aus/NZ   South   America   Persian  Gulf   2011   2012   +7pts.   +1pts.   +5pts.   +5pts.   +1pt   GCC
  • 8. 6© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. Looking more precisely at the distribution of engagement levels in each of these regions, we also see differences in profiles: Engagement levels by region GCC
  • 9. 7© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. The strong correlation between engagement and retention is well understood. “Intent to stay,” or an employee’s stated desire to remain with their current employer, is a strong predictor of actual turnover. It is also an indication of how strongly committed an employee is to their current employer’s success. Globally, 60% of all employees report that, given the choice, they plan on remaining with their current organization for the next 12 months. However, this number jumps to 81% among engaged employees but drops to 23% among the disengaged. Naturally, those employees that score higher on the satisfaction scale (Engaged, Almost Engaged, Honeymooners and Hamsters) are most likely to plan on staying. But many factors may influence intent to stay and turnover, so the relationship is not as straightforward as “the engaged stay and the disengaged leave.” For instance, it may be perplexing that 2% of Engaged employees intend on leaving. Conversely, the fact that 23% of the Disengaged plan on staying presents its own issues which we will discuss in the detailed recommendations starting on page 25. These overall numbers are similar to previous studies (82% for Engaged and 27% for Disengaged answering “Yes, definitely” in 2011). Intent to stay (Retention) Intent to stay – global responses by engagement level 2%   5%   17%   9%   32%   17%   33%   46%   36%   46%   81%   63%   36%   55%   23%   0%   10%   20%   30%   40%   50%   60%   70%   80%   90%   100%   Engaged   Alm ost  Engaged   Crash  and  Burners   Honeym ooners  and  Ham sters   Disengaged   Yes,  definitely   Probably   No  Way  
  • 10. 8© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. When looking at intent to stay across regions, the dynamics of engagement and economic opportunity start to emerge. While China has relatively low levels of engagement, intent to stay is high (and has risen since 2011). Conversely, in South America we observe a high level of expected mobility and a very large percentage of employees hedging their bets. Intent to stay by region Region Year No Way Probably Yes, definitely Australia/New Zealand 2011 15% 34% 51% 2012 12% 26% 62% North America 2011 13% 32% 56% 2012 12% 33% 55% India 2011 8% 33% 59% 2012 4% 28% 68% Europe 2011 14% 38% 48% 2012 12% 37% 51% South America 2011 – – – 2012 9% 48% 43% GCC 2011 – – – 2012 13% 37% 50% China 2011 16% 29% 55% 2012 12% 21% 67% Global 2011 10% 29% 61% 2012 10% 30% 60% 4%   12%   12%   12%   12%   13%   9%   28%   21%   26%   33%   37%   37%   48%   68%   67%   62%   55%   51%   50%   43%   0%   10%   20%   30%   40%   50%   60%   70%   80%   90%   100%   India   China   Australia  /   New  Zealand   North   America   Europe   Persian  Gulf   South   America   Yes,  definitely   Probably   No  Way   GCCGCCGCC
  • 11. 9© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. Reasons for staying or leaving The general trend reported previously by BlessingWhite remains true: The Engaged stay for what they can give, the Disengaged stay for what they can get. For instance, the Disengaged who intend on staying are less than half as likely to state that the work they do is what keeps them committed, and four times more likely to quote the economy as the biggest barrier to leaving. The Disengaged are also twice as likely to reference desirable job conditions, advantageous benefits or simply “being comfortable here” as reasons for staying. When it comes to those who are planning on leaving, Career still tops the list – to which we can add “a desire for change” (which career mobility inside the organization would address). Finally, there may be some genuine grievances around compensation, but organizations should be very selective in addressing these based on the individual’s performance on the job. Reasons to stay for Engaged and Disengaged Overall Engaged Disengaged My work. I like the work that I do. 34% 38% 16% My organization's mission. I believe in what we do. 16% 19% 14% My career. I have significant development or advancement opportunities here. 17% 17% 19% No desire for change. I am comfortable here. 7% 5% 11% My finances. I expect a desirable salary, bonus, or stock options. 6% 5% 10% My manager. I am committed to this person. 5% 5% 5% My job conditions. I have flexible hours, a good commute, etc. 7% 5% 10% The economy. I don't think there are other job opportunities for me out there. 4% 3% 12% My colleagues. I have strong relationships on the job. 3% 2% 3%
  • 12. 10© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. Age, role/level, tenure correlation The dynamics of age, level and tenure have not fundamentally changed. Prima facie, they are proving to be constants around the world from one study to the next, namely: 1) Engagement increases as you get closer to the top of the organization. 2) Tenure (time with the organization) – engagement increases as employees become more tenured. 3) Time in current role – engagement increases as employees become more vested in their current role. 4) The impact of age – employees become more engaged as they get older. Reasons to leave for Engaged and Disengaged Engaged and Disengaged by level in the organization Overall Engaged Disengaged My career. I don't have opportunities to grow or advance here. 26% 27% 25% My finances. I want to earn more money. 16% 22% 12% My work. I don't like what I do or it doesn't make the most of my talents. 15% 6% 24% My desire for change. I want to try something new. 13% 15% 9% My manager. I don't like working for him or her. 10% 7% 13% My job conditions. I don't have the flexibility, commute, etc., that I need. 8% 10% 7% The economy. I think better jobs in my field are available. 6% 9% 4% My organization's mission. It conflicts with my personal values. 4% 2% 5% My colleagues. I don't want to work with or around them. 2% 3% 2% Level in the Organization % Engaged % Disengaged Executive (Vice President or above) 59% 9% Director 41% 12% Team Leader/Tech Lead/Project Manager 39% 14% Manager/Supervisor 39% 12% Consultant 33% 16% Specialist/Professional/Engineer 29% 20% Administrative/Clerical 27% 21%
  • 13. 11© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. While engagement levels typically increase as you climb the ladder in an organization, disengagement in more senior ranks can have a broad-reaching impact on performance, so organizations looking at engagement should not make the common mistake of focusing purely on the front line of the organization. 59% Engaged at the Executive level still leaves 41% who could benefit from engagement efforts. One dead battery will not jump-start another. You cannot sustain engagement down into the ranks of the organization with disengaged executives or directors. Engaged and Disengaged by job tenure (time in current role) Engagement levels by tenure with company (time with current employer) In both cases (time in current job and time with current employer), the longer an employee has been committed to their current job or employer the higher the levels of reported engagement.
  • 14. 12© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. We do find that looking at these demographics in isolation is somewhat misleading. Age, tenure and seniority are closely related, so it helps to view this as a progression. As employees become more tenured, more experienced in their role, and more secure in their own skills and capabilities, they are able to achieve higher levels of engagement. In a way this trend is to be expected: employees who do not find satisfaction in a role will be more likely to leave their employer or change jobs. Understanding this dynamic informs our engagement efforts. As individuals progress through their personal careers, their focus (in terms of both contribution and satisfaction) evolves. This is particularly important to understand when developing initiatives around:  Career strategies  Onboarding/induction  Internal communication efforts  Succession planning/promotions Organizations that have closely studied their own internal engagement dynamics have discovered that there are pivotal points in tenure, when the loss of valuable talent is more likely. These “danger zones” are often department- or function-specific, tend to be in the 3- to 5-year window, and are often correlated to employee age. Knowing when these higher-risk windows occur allows organizations to be proactive in coaching employees through these periods in order to retain critical talent. Engagement levels by age
  • 15. 13© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. Gender In previous reports we observed how gender was not a strong predictor of engagement (i.e., women and men had the same overall engagement levels and patterns) in North America and Europe. Elsewhere in the world, however, there are geographies with significant gender differences: For instance, this chart indicates that in North America men tend to be marginally more Disengaged (2 pts.) and very slightly less likely to be Engaged than women (1 pt.), whereas in India men are substantially more likely to be Engaged (11 pts.) and significantly less likely to be Disengaged (8 pts.) than their female counterparts. As we detail in The Engagement Equation, there are still significant gender gaps in many societies. Far from being a barrier for employers, we believe this represents a significant opportunity for developing a purposeful internal culture that respects diversity and includes all employees in achieving the organization’s goals. Engagement gender gap: point difference between percentage of men and women engaged/disengaged 2%   -­‐3%   3%   2%   -­‐8%   -­‐6%   -­‐2%  -­‐1%   3%   -­‐4%   5%   11%   7%   7%   -­‐9%   -­‐4%   1%   6%   11%   North   America   Europe   Australia  /   New  Zealand   China   India   Persian  Gulf   South   America   Disengaged   Engaged   GCC
  • 16. 14© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. Satisfaction and contribution drivers Contribution When asked to “Choose the item that would most improve your performance,” two items compete for first place: access to more resources and greater clarity on what the organization is expecting. These two items are clearly split based on engagement levels, with those already contributing highly looking for more resources. Top contribution drivers by engagement level Engaged Almost Engaged Crash and Burners Honey- mooners and Hamsters Disengaged Overall Greater clarity about what the organization needs me to do – and why 15% 19% 18% 31% 28% 20% More resources 23% 20% 22% 12% 14% 20% Regular, specific feed- back about how I'm doing 21% 20% 13% 23% 13% 19% Development opportuni- ties and training 17% 18% 22% 14% 19% 18% A coach or a mentor other than my manager 12% 11% 13% 10% 13% 11% Better communication with my manager 6% 7% 7% 8% 9% 7% A better relationship with my coworkers 5% 5% 5% 3% 5% 5% While contribution drivers do vary significantly based on engagement levels, they also vary based on the regions we studied, and this should inform how an engagement strategy may be adjusted to be relevant to a regional office or facility (see next page).
  • 17. 15© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. Top 3 contribution drivers by region (across all engagement levels) North America Europe China India GCC Australia/NZ South America 1. More resources 1. More resources 1. Regular, specific feed- back about how I’m doing 1. Greater clarity about what the organization needs me to do – and why 1. Develop- ment oppor- tunities and training 1. Develop- ment oppor- tunities and training 1. Develop- ment oppor- tunities and training 2. Greater clarity about what the organization needs me to do – and why 2. A coach or a mentor other than my manager 2. Develop- ment oppor- tunities and training 2. Regular, specific feed- back about how I’m doing 2. Greater clarity about what the organization needs me to do – and why 2. More resources 2. Regular, specific feed- back about how I’m doing 3. A coach or a mentor other than my manager 3. Regular, specific feedback about how I’m doing / Greater clarity about what the organization needs me to do – and why [Tied for 3rd place] 3. Greater clarity about what the organization needs me to do – and why 3. Develop- ment oppor- tunities and training 3. Regular, specific feed- back about how I’m doing 3. Regular, specific feed- back about how I’m doing 3. Greater clarity about what the organization needs me to do – and why
  • 18. 16© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. Top satisfaction drivers by engagement level Satisfaction Engaged Almost Engaged Crash and Burners Honey- mooners and Hamsters Disengaged Overall More opportunities to do what I do best 24% 24% 25% 25% 23% 24% Career development opportunities and train- ing 24% 25% 26% 21% 23% 24% More flexible job condi- tions (e.g., control over how my work gets done, flex time, telecommuting) 13% 11% 12% 10% 11% 11% More challenging work 11% 10% 11% 10% 11% 11% Improved cooperation among my coworkers 10% 8% 6% 5% 7% 8% Greater clarity about what the organization needs me to do – and why 6% 8% 6% 14% 11% 8% Greater clarity about my own work preferences and career goals 7% 8% 8% 8% 8% 7% A better relationship with my manager 6% 6% 6% 8% 7% 6% It is worth noting that while “Improved cooperation among my coworkers” is chosen by 8% of employees overall, it is chosen by 14% of Executives (VP and above) as the item most likely to improve their satisfaction. This points to a deepening divergence of agendas and a clash of personalities higher up in organizations.
  • 19. 17© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. Top 3 satisfaction drivers by region (across all engagement levels) North America Europe China India GCC Australia/NZ South America 1. More opportuni- ties to do what I do best 1. More opportuni- ties to do what I do best 1. Career develop- ment oppor- tunities and training 1. Career develop- ment oppor- tunities and training 1. Career develop- ment oppor- tunities and training 1. Career develop- ment oppor- tunities and training 1. Career develop- ment oppor- tunities and training 2. Career develop- ment oppor- tunities and training 2. Career develop- ment oppor- tunities and training 2. More opportuni- ties to do what I do best 2. More opportuni- ties to do what I do best 2. More opportuni- ties to do what I do best 2. More opportuni- ties to do what I do best 2. More opportuni- ties to do what I do best 3. More flex- ible job conditions 3. More flex- ible job conditions 3. Greater clarity about my own work preferences and career goals 3. More chal- lenging work 3. More chal- lenging work 3. More flex- ible job conditions 3. Greater clarity about what the orga- nization needs me to do – and why Unlike contribution drivers, there is significant agreement on what would increase personal satisfaction: “More opportunities to do what I do best” and “Career development opportunities and training” rank highest in every region we studied. Career We articulated in previous research reports the importance of career to individuals, and the opportunity that exists for organizations to take the lead in defining career to align with the organization’s long- term talent requirements. Our 2012 data indicates that, worldwide, employees reporting having greater career opportunities than they did in early 2011 – today 59% of respondents agree or strongly agree to the statement, “I have career opportunities in this organization.” In 2011 only 50% agreed. “I have career opportunities in this organization” 2011 vs. 2012 21%   19%   29%   22%   50%   59%   0%   20%   40%   60%   80%   100%   2011   2012   Agree  or  Strongly   Agree   Neither  Agree/ Disagree   Disagree  or  Strongly   Disagree  
  • 20. 18© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. It’s clear that having career opportunities is a strong contributor to satisfaction for employees, but it’s also a strong indicator of whether or not employees see opportunities to align their skills and ambitions to the organization’s talent needs. “I have career opportunities in this organization” by engagement level – 2012 “I have career opportunities in this organization” by region - 2012 8%   13%   30%   22%   45%   14%   22%   29%   30%   30%  78%   65%   41%   48%   25%   0%   10%   20%   30%   40%   50%   60%   70%   80%   90%   100%   Engaged  Alm ost  Engaged  Crash  and  Burners   Honeym ooners  and  Ham sters   Disengaged   Agree  or  Strongly  Agree   Neither  Agree/Disagree   Disagree  or  Strongly  Disagree   21%   8%   28%   7%   28%   23%   22%   28%   25%   26%   17%   24%   26%   11%   51%   67%   46%   75%   48%   51%   68%   0%   10%   20%   30%   40%   50%   60%   70%   80%   90%   100%   Australia  /   New   Zealand   China   Europe   India   North   America   Persian   Gulf   South   America   Agree  or  Strongly  Agree   Neither  Agree/Disagree   Disagree  or  Strongly  Disagree   GCC
  • 21. 19© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. Trust in Managers The following graph speaks volumes about the correlation between manager trust and engagement. Looking at global data, we see a very tight relationship between engagement levels and manager trust: While this in itself does not point to causation it stands to reason that managers who develop an awareness of trust, and how to earn it, will have much greater success in engaging their team members. If we look at change since 2011, we notice an improvement in trust levels across the board with the biggest shift among the Crash Burn group and a smaller gain among the Disengaged and Almost Engaged: “I trust my manager” responses by engagement level – 2012 “I trust my manager” favorable responses by engagement level, 2011 vs. 2012 Agree or Strongly Agree 2011 2012 Engaged 89% 90% Almost Engaged 81% 84% Crash Burners 63% 70% Honeymooners Hamsters 70% 70% Disengaged 48% 51%
  • 22. 20© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. While trust in one’s immediate manager varies from one region of the world to the next, managers generally enjoy decent levels of trust: “I trust my manager” responses by region - 2012 Managers: the importance of being known As part of our ongoing research, we have focused increasingly on the relationship between the individual and their immediate manager. We have found compelling correlations between an employee knowing their manager well as a person and key working dynamics such as effective use of talents, rewards and recognition, providing regular feedback etc. So who benefits the most from getting to know their manager as a person? We asked respondents to rank their manager on a number of important aspects of their working relationship such as delegating tasks and utilizing talents. We also asked them how well they knew their manager as a person. By cross-referencing the two we can see clear patterns of who most benefits from knowing their boss better. Naturally this correlation between knowing your manager as a person and working effectively day-to- day is closely correlated to engagement. While they do benefit greatly, Engaged employees appear much more tolerant of not knowing their manager as a person. When it comes to scoring their direct manager on these 8 critical items, the gap between engaged employees who know their manager well and those who don’t is not nearly as large as the gap for the other 4 less-engaged segments. 11%   3%   12%   5%   14%   14%   11%   13%   11%   17%   11%   12%   12%   16%   76%   86%   71%   84%   74%   74%   73%   0%   10%   20%   30%   40%   50%   60%   70%   80%   90%   100%   Aus  /  NZ   China   Europe   India   North   America   Persian   Gulf   South   America   Agree  /  Strongly  Agree   Neither  Agree/Disagree   Disagree  /  Strongly  Disagree   GCC
  • 23. 21© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. So while engaged employees have other factors to hold onto (interesting work, a sense of contribution, career hopes), less-engaged employees are far more dependent on knowing their manager as a person to reach higher levels of engagement. This becomes apparent if we look at the average gap over all 8 of the factors in our most recent study, by engagement level: So what does this mean in practice? While companies focus on equipping managers with tactical skills such as delegation or matching individual talents to tasks, engagement is driven more effectively through leadership and connection skills. Particularly difficult for a manager is the challenge of authenticity – because they are typically being taught how to behave, how to “play a role.” In actual fact, it’s becoming better known as a person to their direct reports – not being the person they think they ought to be – that will build the relationship needed to increase engagement. Trust in executives The way that employees interact with and perceive senior executives is very different from their relationship with their manager. It is important for us to understand this distinction in equipping every level of an organization to build a culture of engagement. Average gap in manager favorability between those who report knowing their manager well and those who don’t – 2012 Engaged Almost Engaged Crash and Burners Honeymoon- ers and Hamsters Disengaged Grand Total China 14% 10% 19% 12% 46% 30% Aus/NZ 37% 46% 37% 57% 79% 54% India 47% 51% 63% 67% 58% 58% North America 41% 49% 56% 59% 64% 59% South America 33% 56% 60% 15% 43% 48% GCC 16% 33% 57% 61% 61% 46% Europe 22% 48% 47% 59% 59% 52% Global 22% 48% 47% 59% 59% 52%
  • 24. 22© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. At a high level, trust in senior leaders has seen a slight increase overall, from 61% to 65% of employees who agree or strongly agree with the statement “I trust the senior leaders of this organization.” As we might expect this also correlates closely to engagement levels: 2011 2012 Engaged 85% 85% Almost Engaged 68% 70% Crash Burners 40% 47% Honeymooners Hamsters 57% 56% Disengaged 27% 30% Total 61% 65% “I trust senior leaders in this organization” responses by region – 2012 20%   4%   25%   7%   22%   18%   15%   22%   18%   25%   15%   21%   21%   20%   57%   78%   50%   78%   57%   62%   65%   0%   10%   20%   30%   40%   50%   60%   70%   80%   90%   100%   Aus  /  NZ   China   Europe   India   North   America   Persian  Gulf   South   America   Disagree  /  Strongly  Disagree   Neither  Agree/Disagree   Agree  /  Strongly  Agree   GCC
  • 25. 23© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. What are executives (perceived to be) good at? And where are they weak? While executives do not get to interact one-on-one with every employee, their role in building a culture of engagement is pivotal. Setting the tone, fostering a purposeful culture and establishing an inspiring vision of the future are all important prerequisites to building engagement across the enterprise. Along with trust levels, employees are scoring senior leaders marginally better on the four key engagement actions we have tracked between studies: % agree or strongly agree Change since 2011 (percentage points) Gap between the Engaged and Disengaged who agree (percentage points) Senior leaders act in alignment with our organiza- tion’s core values or guiding principles. 61% +2 17 Senior leaders communicate honestly. 56% +3 18 Senior leaders link the work of the organization to a larger purpose. 62% +2 18 Senior leaders have created a work environment that drives high performance. 50% +1 20
  • 26. 24© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. Notes
  • 27. 25© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. As we continue to track employee trends around the world, we are watching the evolution of the employee/employer relationship through economic cycles. But 3 key elements are essential to informing our approach to developing an engagement strategy: 1) How an employee relates to his or her job and employer (current and future). 2) How managers work with individual employees to address individual engagement drivers and foster positive team dynamics. 3) How executives create an inspiring vision for the future and foster a purposeful culture that makes engagement a core driver of business results. Engagement needs to be part of your culture Organizations that have made substantive progress in fueling business success through employee engagement have approached this transformation as a culture change exercise. They may not explicitly describe it that way, but the transformation was the result of a deliberate focus on establishing a foundation of employee engagement and driving engagement at every level of the organization. In the most successful organizations, engagement and results are discussed regularly – in the same breath. We identify 6 main elements for building a culture of engagement. While these are not lockstep phases in a process, there is a natural sequence: Recommendations Take Action Build Commitment Create Engagement Champions Equip People Measure Progress Align Practices
  • 28. 26© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. Build Commitment Does your organization have a shared, actionable defi- nition and a common language for discussing engage- ment? Most don’t, yet engage in extensive post-survey action planning. In building commitment you need to clarify what you and your company are committing to – and why it is impor- tant. Start with the business case and securing Senior Leader Buy-In. Create Engagement Champions Unless your organization is small, you cannot build a cul- ture of engagement on your own, even with the support of senior leaders. Champions allow your organization to: } Expand the engagement message reach. } Educate colleagues on what engagement is, why it is important, and how to influence it. } Help leaders interpret, communicate, and act on survey findings. } Support managers as they tackle engagement with their teams. } Help in gathering insights and feedback from the front lines. Equip People It may seem obvious, but if you need people to play par- ticular roles, you must prepare them to do so. Everyone needs to understand those expectations and assume own- ership of their piece of the puzzle. Provide the context, articulate the vision and equip every level. Align Practices Too often, engagement is undermined by policies and practices that drive only results – or are simply painfully bureaucratic. Successful culture change requires that your operational engine drive engagement as well as your strategic priorities. Measure Progress So how will you know if you are succeeding in creating a culture of engagement? Engagement surveys, pulse sur- veys, and the metrics you use already to run your busi- ness can provide insights. Stay close to the financial, customer, value chain, and human capital metrics that your organization already tracks. You may not be able to determine that higher engagement is explicitly driving success, but you will be able to show a strong correlation between your engage- ment efforts and improved numbers that matter. Take Action If you’re measuring progress toward creating a culture of engagement well, you’ll end up with actionable insights. Encouraging dialogue and planning at the team level provides a valuable feedback loop. The aim of this phase is to transition from a corporate objective (creating a culture of engagement) to actions that will tackle engagement at the local level.
  • 29. 27© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. A Daily Priority: the IME approach If you want to build a culture of engagement you need to move away from a survey-driven process that results in lists of remedial actions assigned to ill-prepared managers. If engagement is to become a daily priority, it has to be a shared responsibility. Leaders and managers cannot and should not shoulder the entire burden of engaging your workforce. Every member needs to play a role (or several roles), as individuals (I), managers (M), or executives (E). So you must develop a focus on engagement which maps out roles and responsibilities at each level of the organization. Individuals At the individual level, drivers of satisfaction and contribution will vary, as will longer-term aspirations and career goals. While the organization can help an individual examine and gain clarity on these, it does demand a partnership and a proactive participation from the individual. No individual can expect the organization to make them engaged. Individuals need to ACT on engagement, namely:  Assess their skills, strengths, career goals and current priorities.  Communicate with their manager to ensure alignment and put together a plan on how to address their personal engagement drivers to reach higher levels of contribution and satisfaction.  Take action – with their manager’s support start to change those items they can and track their progress throughout the year. Managers Managers tend to be on the sharp end of the wedge when it comes to engagement. They are under pressure from senior management to produce results, burdened with expectations that they can engage their teams, and often divided between managing others and completing their own tasks. When the annual engagement survey rolls around it’s on their shoulders that the action plans land, and typically they have been given little context and no option about participating or not. Finally, managers need to worry about their own personal engagement equation. Managers need to CARE about engagement, namely:  Coach individuals toward maximum contribution and satisfaction.  Align and constantly realign individuals to the organization’s strategy, mission, and values.  Recognize attitude, effort, and results.  Engage in dialogue about what’s important to both parties, while at the same time engaging themselves.
  • 30. 28© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. There is an important caveat to the CARE model. Managers must drop the veil of their position or title, and become better known to employees. That doesn’t necessarily mean being their buddy. But it does mean sharing personal motivation for work, challenges, appropriate weaknesses, the reasons they came to your organization, and why they stay there. Engagement is a case of give and take – of gaining satisfaction and giving contribution. Once engagement has been achieved there are many factors that may cause it to get out of balance, one being the constant shifting and redirecting of organizational strategy and direction. As each department or team changes tack, it is up to the manager to ensure that employees make course corrections to stay aligned with the most immediate priorities. Executives Executives are not in the position to coach and align the personal interests of each and every employee. They must set the direction that the workforce aligns to, communicate that direction to ensure a clear line-of-sight throughout your organization, and create a culture that fuels engagement and business results. They must also fulfill the role of manager and individual as previously described. We understand that this is a tall order. We need to look at the priorities of executives in leading a workforce to higher engagement from the perspective of the leaders’ followers. Our focus therefore is not on the intrinsic qualities that make an effective leader but instead is about asking, “What are the needs of followers that a leader needs to fulfill?” We find it useful to talk about how you build your CASE (Community, Authenticity, Significance, and Excitement). These are core needs of the 21st century workforce (the followers) and are useful in delivering results as well as engagement:  Community for a sense of belonging and purpose  Authenticity as a basis for trust and inspiration  Significance to recognize individuals’ contribution  Excitement to constantly encourage – and raise the bar on – high performance
  • 31. 29© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. Organizational practices Finally, you need to take a look at the organizational level and critically revisit policies, practices and procedures and ask yourself: do these help or hinder in our engagement efforts? A common list of practices that we find fail to support engagement in many corporations include:  Onboarding processes that fail to initiate a true dialogue around priorities and work preferences.  Performance management processes that boil down to awkward form-filling by managers and a once- a-year scorecard that fails to truly align employees to the organization’s priorities.  Career processes that are driven by current opportunities and not individual potential.  Bureaucratic reporting systems and data collection that nobody challenges, and that add no value but have become a fixture.  Hiring/firing practices that encourage managers to retain a low-performing team member rather than seek to replace him or her with a higher-potential candidate. Alignment is key Increasingly, we find that a key to building engagement in most organizations is a focus on alignment. Never assume that staff understand and are able to align to what the organization needs. Many employees report “Greater clarity about what the organization needs me to do – and why” as a top driver of contribution. Furthermore, it is being able to contribute and know that this contribution is recognized that drives an employee’s satisfaction. In this sense contribution and satisfaction are mutually reinforcing. So while many organizations approach engagement from the perspective of “what will make our employees more satisfied,” the answer is sometimes surprising: it’s more opportunities to contribute! But opportunities that are also in line with the aspirations and strengths of the individual. Less, less, more, more – collect the data you need to understand local needs and take action Having the right data to inform your engagement efforts is important, especially if this data allows you to draw a straight line between engagement levels and organizational outputs. But beware: the survey scores are not the prize, and there is a risk of letting survey scores dictate rather than inform your efforts. Consequently we recommend:  Less benchmarking – achieving specific engagement targets or getting a passable scorecard is not the goal.  Fewer items in surveys – the survey process is too often used as a catch-all.  More frequent sampling so that engagement scores can effectively be used as a dashboard metric and not just a once-a-year audit.  More strategic: the engagement metrics need to be directly tied to the business’s current ambitions and strategic efforts.
  • 32. 30© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. Dialogue on career pays off Career (in the broad sense) remains high on every employee’s list of needs. As we detailed in the previous pages, two factors consistently top the list of satisfaction drivers for employees in nearly every region in the world and across every engagement level: “career development opportunities and training” and “more opportunities to do what I do best.” See the table called Top 3 Satisfaction Drivers by region (across all engagement levels) on page 17. Yet career development is often dismissed by management for several reasons: employees job hop, business plans change, the economy makes long-term planning difficult, and budgets simply aren’t available for career initiatives. While more people report having career opportunities today than in 2011, employees are largely cynical about their employer’s attempts to support their careers and disappointed by the resources they receive. For the most part, they believe, they will forge a career in spite of their company’s policies and procedures. But dig deeper, and you find that what is lacking is clarity: Most employees do not have clarity around their career aspirations or drivers of job satisfaction. As traditional career ladders disappear, it becomes important for organizations to help define the primary guideposts that individuals should use to redefine and navigate today’s uncharted career landscape. Employees who are truly striving to achieve full engagement for their own sake would ideally stop looking to a new employer and start developing a personal career path or series of projects internally, in accordance with the company’s shifting priorities. The bottom line: if employees understand what matters to them, what they offer, and where they can make a difference for their employer, they will be better able to make the right choices – and also position themselves as the right people to get the work done. Savvy enterprises see a bigger picture: career development is one critical piece in a more complex talent management strategy that often includes succession planning, performance management, redeployment, and targeted development to make sure the organization performs as its markets evolve. When employees see career as encompassing lateral moves, skill development, stretch assignments, and special projects – not just promotions or advancement – they will find more satisfying opportunities with you, their current employer. If you provide an exciting journey, people will stop wondering about what the stops are called along the way.
  • 33. 31© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. Start by establishing three cornerstones of career development success: 1. Individuals must own their careers and not rely on their employers or managers to take the initiative. 2. The organization must have a point of view about career development, and provide the tools and structure that allow employees to develop in their careers in the context of what the organization needs. 3. Managers stand at the crossroads where their team members’ capabilities and goals meet the organization’s priorities. They need to understand and buy-in to the organization’s career development point of view. They also must be competent and confident in supporting (not directing) employees’ career journeys. It is the role of your managers to help employees realistically align their aspirations with the organization’s goals. Disengaged cause drag: coach up or coach out Every sizable organization will have a proportion of its workforce in the Disengaged group. This is simply the dynamics of a modern workforce. It is tempting to invest a lot of time in re-engaging this group, but that is rarely the best use of time. Disengagement is contagious and causes drag in terms of low contribution, and failing to address disengagement may be a tacit signal that the organization (or the manager) tolerates sub-par performance. So what is a manager to do with a Disengaged team member? The answer is to coach up or coach out. Coach up Give the employee the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with the manager and address the root cause of their disengagement, seeking ways to contribute at a higher level – and in doing so get to higher levels of engagement. Coach out If the employee has turned an emotional corner and is unwilling to make the effort (or if the job fit is truly so bad that course correction is not enough) then it will be better for both parties to part ways. At the end of the day, a Disengaged employee should be given the two options above. The third option of staying put and doing nothing should not be on the table.
  • 34. 32© 2013 by BlessingWhite, A Division of GP Strategies. Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved. Employee Engagement Research Update 01/13. This report is based on 7,068 responses from around the world. Regions reported are those where sufficient number of responses were collected to provide meaningful regional analysis. South America and the GCC were not reported separately in the 2011 report. Methodology Our online survey consisted of 27 multiple-choice items. Everyone answered the first 25 items. The remaining items varied based on respondents’ answers to item 25, which explored intent to stay. The survey link was emailed to European and North American respondents in May to August 2012 and to Asian respondents in September to November 2012. Individuals invited to respond represented a cross-section of geographic regions, job functions, roles, and industries. To round out the multi-layered workforce perspective, we conducted about 30 interviews with HR and line leaders around the world. Many of these interviews were also featured in our 2012 book The Engagement Equation (Wiley). Global respondent profile  7,068 respondent included in the study  12% reside in China, 38% in North America, 27% in India, 10% in Europe, 4% in Australia/New Zealand, 4% from the GCC, and 3.1% from South America  49% are female, 51% male  65% hold executive, management, or supervisory titles, with 9% indicating that they are a vice president or above  32% are Baby Boomers or earlier (born 1930 - 1964), 33% are Generation X (born 1965 - 1977), and 35% are Generation Y or Millennials (born 1978 - 1994)  22% work in organizations that employ more than 10,000 people and 57% work for organizations with fewer than 5,000 people  49% indicated that all or most of their team works at the same location, with only 13% labeling themselves as virtual workers  44% have worked three years or less with their employer, and 31% have been with their organizations for more than 7 years  One in four (24%) have held their position for less than a year and 14% of employees have held their position for more than 7 years  Less than one in five respondents (17%) work in a union environment About this report
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  • 36. A Division of GP Strategies