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Tracking Global Trends in Employee Engagement: A Benchmark Spotlight

Tracking Global Trends in Employee Engagement: A Benchmark Spotlight

The Perceptyx benchmark database provides deep insights into global trends in employee engagement. Our latest benchmark update reveals significant regional variations in engagement levels, illuminating the key factors driving these differences. For organizations aiming to succeed globally, understanding these regional nuances is crucial.

Before we explore the data, let’s define employee engagement and review its significance in measuring organizational health and employee well-being.

Employee Engagement Defined

Employee engagement describes how employees feel about the organization — their emotional attachment — and what they’re willing to do as a result of that emotional attachment. It goes beyond mere job satisfaction by offering insights into the behavioral outcomes of the work experience. Engaged employees feel a strong sense of accomplishment and are motivated to invest discretionary effort in their roles.

This engagement and performance create a virtuous cycle: highly engaged employees tend to perform better, leading to success for both the individual and the organization, which in turn reinforces and deepens engagement. The anticipation of success acts as a powerful catalyst for engagement, driving employees to invest more of themselves in their work and the organization's mission. 

How We Measure Engagement

Perceptyx employs a comprehensive framework to measure employee engagement, focusing on four critical dimensions: Pride, Advocacy, Commitment, and Motivation. This approach provides a holistic view of how employees feel about their company, their willingness to recommend it, their intent to stay, and their sense of accomplishment in their roles.

Our robust methodology enables:

  • Consistent benchmarking across industries and regions,
  • Identification of broad trends and subtle nuances in engagement,
  • Accurate tracking of changes over time, and
  • Data-driven, actionable insights for organizations.

Perceptyx’s benchmark data, comprised of more than 20 million responses from 500 global organizations, tracks over 700 commonly asked questions and 2,000 data cuts. Understanding and monitoring employee engagement trends can help organizations maintain this positive cycle and adapt their strategies to evolving workforce expectations. And most importantly for our purposes here, extensive benchmarking allows for more localized insights, ensuring that we capture the unique cultural, social, and economic contexts of different regions.

A Look at Global Engagement Trends

The global engagement average has risen compared to 2022. This upward trend reflects a broader recognition of the importance of employee engagement. Despite the overall increase, some large geographical regions have seen a decline in engagement, highlighting the importance of contextualizing your organization’s data with robust, local benchmarks.

Region Engagement Trends

South America
South America has traditionally shown high engagement levels, well above the global average. However, recent data indicates a slight decline. Despite this, the region remains the most engaged globally. In fact, countries like Paraguay show engagement rates as high as 92%. This highlights the region’s strong emotional connection to work, driven by cultural factors that emphasize community and collective success.

Europe again exhibits the least favorable engagement score of all six regions. But within Europe, there is a great degree of variability in sentiment across European countries. Of the Big 5 European economies, the average engagement score in Spain is 81, whereas in Germany it is just 72 (the lowest of all countries). When interpreting benchmark data from Europe it can be important to consider the changing economic conditions, including job security and income levels, as well as the social safety nets and government policies that influence employee engagement.

Asia presents a fascinating case. Engagement in this region has been gradually increasing, particularly in China, which saw a 3% rise over the past year, which has driven global engagement up. We have also seen countries like Japan, a traditionally low-scoring country, increase by nearly 3%. Unlike other regions that experienced spikes in 2020, Asia’s engagement has shown a steady year-on-year increase. Three of the top five drivers of engagement are growth and development-related, which perhaps indicates that many employees in this region are seeking personal and professional advancement. However, in countries like India, we do see chronically high engagement, which may be the result of acquiescence bias (“yea-saying”) leading to inflated favorable scores. 

Africa’s engagement trends are mixed. While there is a strong sense of community and pride in some areas, economic challenges and political instability in others can hinder engagement. As a whole, the region has seen a slight decline, with pride in work dropping by 1.3%.

Oceania has shown a modest increase in engagement, particularly in pride, which is up 0.7%. Large countries in Oceania — Australia and New Zealand — have remained very stable. However, like other regions, it faces challenges in maintaining high levels of advocacy and commitment. Culturally, Oceania’s scores are very similar to those of Western Europe. 

North America
Engagement in North America has remained stable, with only minor improvement in a sense of accomplishment and a slight decline in willingness to recommend the organization. Larger changes were noted in change management with North American employees less confident in how their organization is handling change (down 3.2%) and feeling less supported in adapting to changes (a decrease of 5.1%) compared to previous years. These trends reflect the ongoing uncertainty in the U.S. economy and political climate and reinforce the importance of supporting employees through disruption.

Region engagement trends

Motivation: A Consistent Positive Trend
"My work gives me a sense of personal accomplishment" is our only engagement item showing a favorability increase across all regions. This suggests that amid ongoing uncertainty, employees are seeking fulfillment in their work. This desire for personal accomplishment drives motivation, reflecting a fundamental human need to find meaning in what we do.

Advocacy and Commitment Are Mostly Trending Down
Advocacy has decreased across all regions except Asia, which saw a modest increase (0.7%). This overall decline suggests a growing reluctance among employees to recommend their workplaces, possibly due to dissatisfaction with how organizations are handling change and employee well-being. Commitment has increased in Asia and Africa, driving the global average up. Other regions have remained stable or experienced slight declines. Labor market conditions, including job availability and layoffs, significantly influence these trends. In regions with strong job markets and, therefore, more open job positions, commitment levels tend to be lower than in regions with fewer job opportunities and higher unemployment rates.

Pride in Working for the Organization on the Upswing
Pride in working for the organization has increased by 2.6% in Asia, accounting for most of the global rise. Oceania saw a 0.7% increase, while other regions, particularly Africa (down 1.3%), experienced declines. This variation reflects differing regional dynamics, including economic stability, cultural values, and organizational practices.

Global Drivers of Engagement: Change Management Takes the Lead

While regional variations exist, a consistent pattern has emerged in the drivers of engagement across the globe:

  • Change Management Emerges as a Top Priority: As we noted in our reporting on engagement benchmarks and our 2024 Employee Experience Trends report, change management has become a leading driver of engagement. This shift reflects the ongoing disruptions and transformations many organizations are experiencing.

  • Support for Adaptation Is Key: The item "Feeling supported to adapt to change" stands out as a top driver across all geographical regions. This universal importance underscores the need for organizations to provide robust support systems as they navigate change.

  • Consistent Themes Across Regions: Several drivers appear consistently across most regions, including "Change is handled effectively," "confidence in senior management," and "career opportunities at the company." These common threads suggest areas where organizations can focus their efforts to improve engagement globally.

  • Regional Nuances: In Asia, growth and development items dominate the list of engagement drivers, reflecting a culture that places high value on personal and professional advancement. Africa and Oceania share identical drivers, with a focus on fulfillment and communication alongside change management. Europe stands out as the only region where survey action (i.e., acting on feedback from employee surveys) is a top five driver of engagement — interestingly, it's also the region that scores least favorably on this item.

Simply put, change management has become the top driver of engagement globally. Feeling supported to adapt to change is critical for employee engagement across all geographical regions. However, this support has significantly fallen globally, with drops ranging from 5.0% in Asia to 10.2% in Oceania. This could indicate fatigue with continuous change since COVID-19, during which organizations have failed to provide adequate support.

Neutral responses are high, with around 1 in 5 employees globally feeling unsupported in adapting to change. Up to 1 in 4 in Europe are neutral, indicating inconsistent support. Effective change management has also seen a decrease, with South America experiencing the largest drop (a decline of 7.9%). Europe, by far the lowest scoring, is down 3.2%.

Additionally, "There are career opportunities for me at this company" remains a consistent top driver across most regions and has improved compared to previous benchmarks. This illustrates the importance of growth and development in driving engagement, particularly in regions like Asia, where these items are critical.

Understanding Cultural, Social, and Economic Differences

Coming to grips with cultural, social, and economic differences is essential in interpreting engagement data and formulating effective listening and actioning strategies. It is also important to understand entrenched cultural norms in response styles — such as the earlier-mentioned acquiescence bias seen in India or cultural tendency bias (avoiding commitment to a strong position, inflating neutral responses).

The contrast in engagement levels between South America and Europe serves as an example of how local contexts can significantly influence employee engagement scores. In South America, where engagement scores are highest, strong community bonds and a collective work culture likely contribute to higher levels of pride and commitment. These cultural factors could translate into workplace environments where employees feel more connected to their organizations and colleagues, so future initiatives that foster a sense of belonging might further improve engagement.  

Conversely, Europe's lower engagement scores may be attributed to a complex interplay of factors. Economic uncertainties, including ongoing challenges in some EU countries and the continuing ripple effects of Brexit, can create an atmosphere of caution and restraint. Additionally, diverse social policies across European countries, such as varying approaches to work-life balance and job security, may impact how employees perceive their relationship with their employers. In particular, Western Europe’s generally more individualistic culture, compared to South America's collectivism, could also play a role in shaping engagement dynamics. 

While we are just speculating about different possibilities, understanding these nuanced contexts in greater depth is an absolute necessity for multinational organizations operating across different regions. Such depth allows organizations to tailor their engagement strategies to address specific regional needs, challenges, and cultural norms, rather than applying a one-size-fits-all approach. For instance, initiatives that focus on building community and shared purpose might resonate more strongly in one region, while programs emphasizing personal development and career progression could resonate in another.

Perceptyx’s robust benchmark data, our People Insights Platform, and our team of experienced workforce transformation consultants can help any organization capture, analyze, and take action on employee engagement data to drive meaningful and impactful change. To learn more, schedule a meeting with a member of our team.

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