Europe is Lagging Behind US in Engagement

Europe is Lagging Behind US in Engagement

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A recent Gallup report uncovers engagement in Europe is lagging behind the US.

Little over a tenth (11%) of UK employees feel engaged at work, according to new research from management consultancy Gallup. More alarmingly, a fifth (21%) reported being actively disengaged.

The State of the Global Workplace report also found that only 10% of Western European workers were engaged, compared to a third (33%) of those in the US.

Gallup acknowledged the impact of the current economic and political landscape in Western Europe, but described how management practices in the US were helping to raise staff engagement across the pond too.

The report also stressed that more is needed from UK businesses to cater to the preferences of millennials.

“To some extent, knowing what millennials want as customers and as employees will determine whether a company succeeds over the next 20 years,” read the report.

“However, many British businesses currently neglect motivational considerations when it comes to younger employees – or those of any age.”

Identifying the motivational preferences of individual employees may be beyond many HR teams, but when an organisation recruits employees who are naturally suited to their role, their workforce is more productive and more engaged.

Jane Sparrow, co-founder of The Culture Builders said that while there are several factors contributing to these low engagement levels, “we are also driving ourselves harder and harder, but we are not as productive as we used to be because we are always on”.

How we define and measure engagement has changed over the years, and this could also be behind the low scores.

Howard Sloane, managing partner at Taslo HR, describes how it is no longer as simple as good engagement equals high scores on employee surveys.

It’s a much more complex concept – one that many organisations have yet to grasp.

“Businesses simply haven’t caught up with the pace of employee expectation and the speed that technology is changing the world of work. Flexibility is crucial,” said Sloane.

“We are still some way off a global acceptance that improved employee engagement equals better sales and improved customer service; therefore it is only the really enlightened businesses that take it seriously enough to invest heavily in this area.”

A recent study by productivity platform Asana may also shed some light on what’s at the root of the poor engagement levels.

It found that a third (31%) of UK workers have been inclined to leave their job, or have already left one, because of how much time they spend on ‘work admin’ – such as organising workflow and attending meetings – rather than carrying out their actual job.

Meanwhile, official figures also seem to show that the UK’s productivity has gone into hibernation.

The Office for Budget Responsibility found last month that it had previously overestimated the country’s productivity, which had grown at just 0.2 per cent a year for the past five years.

It predicts engagement in the UK will remain weak for the next five years as well.

This corresponds with the Office for National Statistics data released last month, which suggested that labour productivity had fallen in both the first and second quarter of the year.

Although the reasons for the UK’s low engagement levels may be complex, it is our leadership teams that need to lead the charge to drive them upwards.

What has had the biggest impact on productivity levels in your organisation?

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