“The world has an employee engagement crisis, with serious and potentially lasting repercussions for the global economy.” – Gallup

As global economies and job markets improve, the competition for skilled and talented workers has intensified. In a study conducted earlier this year by the World Economic Forum, 77% of the CEOs surveyed voiced concern that skills shortages could hinder their organization’s growth, and 52% plan to hire more employees over the next year.

With more people on the job hunt, organizations must sharpen their engagement strategies so they can more effectively recruit and hire highly skilled and talented workers. Today’s employees are looking for companies that recognize their worth beyond just compensation and benefits, but also through real engagement. They like to feel that they are a part of an organization that appreciates them and provides a chance to fully exploit their potential.

Companies also have to ensure their retention strategies are sound. Nobody wants to keep moving from company to company in search of a “better job”. In today’s market, more power is in the hands of job seekers who have the confidence and options to explore better opportunities outside of their organization.

Aon Hewitt 2017 Trends in Employee Engagement Study

The latest Aon Hewitt 2017 Trends in Global Employee Engagement report reveals that, around the world, employee engagement has dropped two points, nearly offsetting the gain in 2015. Just 24 percent of all employees fall into the Highly Engaged category and another 39 percent can be categorized as Moderately Engaged, putting the global engagement score at 63 percent compared to 65 percent the previous year.

Here are some of the key findings from the study:

Rewards & Recognition Top the List of Engagement Drivers

It is not enough to simply measure employee engagement. Understanding the
top culture and work experience priorities is central to all engagement initiatives. The study identified the top engagement drivers by looking at three things: how statistically related the work experience indicator is to engagement, how well the average company is performing in this area, and finally a comparison to what great organizations are doing. By triangulating on these three areas, the study identified the greatest opportunities for driving engagement in various regions and markets. Rewards & Recognition lept two spots in 2016 to top the list of engagement drivers.

Top Engagement Opportunities Globally:

  1. Reward & Recognition (up from #3 in 2016)
  2. Employee Value Proposition
  3. Senior Leadership
  4. Career Opportunities
  5. Enabling Infrastructure

Findings by Region

The study found the largest concentrations of engaged workers are in emerging economy nations. The findings are important for global organizations that are exploring engagement strategies in different parts of the world, as one solution may not be right for all regions. It is important that companies consider the cultural and socioeconomic factors that influence engagement across the globe and design solutions that best match the needs of diverse cultures.


After a five-point improvement seen in last year’s report, Asia Pacific (APAC)
is coming back to earth with a three-point drop this year with 62 percent of employees in APAC categorized as engaged compared to 65 percent a year ago. This drop in engagement was largely a function of decreases in engagement in four of the region’s largest markets: China (-3 pts.), India (-2 pts.), Japan (-2 pts.), and Indonesia (-1 pt.).
The study found that Rewards and Recognition provides APAC organizations the greatest opportunity to improve engagement.

Latin America:

Like APAC, Latin America’s greatest engagement opportunity is Rewards and Recognition, which improved by two points in the region. That can help explain some of the improvement to overall engagement. Perceptions of Rewards and Recognition only fell in three countries—Chile, Mexico, and Venezuela—while in countries like Brazil (up 5 pts.) and Colombia (up 11 pts.), perceptions of Rewards and Recognition soared.

North America:

Canada saw a slight improvement on the engagement index, from 69 percent of employees to 70 percent. The biggest improvements were in the perceptions of Employee Value Proposition, Enabling Infrastructure, and Career Opportunities, which all improved by four points, as well as Rewards and Recognition which improved by six points.

Even though engagement in the United States fell only one point, every one of the 15 work experience dimensions declined. This could be an early indication that engagement may recede further in the near future. United States domestic and multinational business leaders will be challenged to adequately react to changes in healthcare, regulations, international trade, and labor tariffs that directly or indirectly impact pay, benefits, and job market competitiveness.


Europe, which has the lowest engagement of all the regions, saw employee engagement drop by two points to 58 percent, giving up the gains experienced in the previous year. Twice as many countries (14) in the region had engagement declines than those countries with improvements (7).

The UK has the second-largest economy in the European Union, and while their engagement rose slightly, engagement levels for eight of the nine other countries making up the top 10 saw engagement fall or stay flat. Many nations affected economically, politically, and socially by the Brexit vote, like France (-7 pts.), Italy (-6 pts.), Spain (-5 pts.), and the Netherlands (-5 pts.), saw sharp degradations in employee engagement. Germany’s employee engagement levels remained relatively stable, with only a one-point decline. The lone exceptions are is Belgium, which had engagement increase by three points, from 53 percent to 56 percent and Turkey where, despite its political and social challenges, engagement rose by 5 points from 51 to 56 percent.

To download a copy of the full report go to http://www.aon.com/engagement17/