Aon: Overall employee work experience is deteriorating

16 June 2015

The overall employee work experience is declining globally, research by Aon Hewitt finds. While engagement levels have plateaued in recent years, employees are particularly unhappy with the resources and programmes that enable them to grow and perform. According to the consulting firm, to address the engagement issue, organisations should first ‘fix the basics’ needed to get the job done, and then focus on their company culture and leadership.

In its recently released ‘2015 Trends in Global Employee Engagement’ report, HR consulting firm Aon Hewitt researches the employee engagement of 9 million employees at over 1,000 companies in 164 countries. The HR consulting firm finds that while employee engagement levels have remained constant, the overall work experience of employees is deteriorating.

Global trends in employee engagement

The report shows that the global engagement level has plateaued as it increased by 1% from 61% in 2013 to 62% in 2014. The most engaged workers are found in Latin America, with a percentage of 71%, followed by the African-Middle Eastern region at 67%, the latter of which saw the biggest increase in engagement of 6%. The only region that did not experience an increase in its engagement levels is Europe, which has seen the same level of 57% for the past three years.

Engagement levels by region
Comparing the different countries to the global average of 62%, finds that people in Mexico are the most engaged at 78%, followed by Pakistan at 72% and Indonesia and Russia at 70%, all four of which increased their engagement levels compared to 2013. The biggest decrease is seen in Colombia, where the level dropped 11% to 68%. While the engagement level in the UK increased with 3% compared to 2013, it is still below the global average found at 52%. 

Markets by Engagement Score Valures and Changes

Aon Hewitt’s study also shows that despite the slight increase in global engagement levels, the overall net satisfaction levels of workers with their work experience plummeted 28% in 2014. Employees are particularly unhappy with resources (-7%), people focus (-6%), HR practices (-5%), and leadership (-5%). The biggest deterioration of employee work experience is found in Europe at -85%. Here people are especially unhappy with communication, customer focus and resources. The most satisfied people are found in the US, where the engagement levels are also fairly high at 66%.

“As GDP growth continues, we expect to see organisations make greater investments in people, which could result in an increase in employee engagement,” explains Ken Oehler, Global Engagement Practice Leader of Aon Hewitt. “However, any improvements in engagement could be offset by increasing employee dissatisfaction with many of the work-related resources and programmes that enable them to effectively do their jobs. Employees who are engaged, but not empowered, are more likely to be frustrated, burned out and become disengaged, which puts organisations at risk of having suboptimal productivity and higher-than-average employee turnover.”

Percentage point change in work experience indicators

Global engagement drivers
The number one global engagement driver is career opportunities, which is ranked as the top driver in all regions. Although all regions view this driver the most important, global perception decreased with 3% and less than half (44%) of employees are satisfied with their experience. The other top drivers - reputation, pay, employee value proposition and innovation - could also be improved as around half of employees are satisfied with these key engagement priorities. While most regions view the organisation’s reputations as important, workers in Latin America and the African-Middle Eastern region, where the most engaged workers live, assign more importance to recognition.

Global Engagement Drivers

Oehler concludes: “There has been significant emphasis on increasing engagement over the last several years, but many organisations are overly focused on diagnostics and not on the holistic solutions that address the specific challenges they are facing,” says Oehler. “The best way to rapidly address low engagement levels is to ‘fix the basics’ in areas like safety or the systems, processes and resources needed to get work done. Beyond these areas, top organisations will create a culture of engagement by focusing on performance, growth and engaging leadership.”