As doubts re-emerge about the strength of economic recovery in the U.S., a new global workforce study by Towers Watson reveals that 63% of U.S. employees are not fully engaged in their work and struggling to cope when sufficient support is not provided.
The research suggests employees are finding it difficult to sustain the kind of positive connection to their companies that yields consistent productivity – the result of nearly a decade of pressure to do more with less and respond to the challenges of global competition, ever-evolving technology and the ongoing need for strict cost management.
“When workers are not fully engaged, it leads to greater performance risk for employers,” said Julie Gebauer, managing director, talent and rewards, Towers Watson. “It makes companies more vulnerable to lower productivity, higher inefficiency, weaker customer service and greater rates of absenteeism and turnover. Without attention and interventions aimed at improving on-the-job support for employees and creating a sense of attachment to the organization, this trend could worsen – and directly affect business outcomes.”
The study breaks new ground in understanding and measuring what contributes to sustained employee engagement in the workplace today, and demonstrates the strength of the relationship between “sustainable engagement” and specific financial outcomes for employers, according to Towers Watson.
“This is an important wake-up call for U.S. companies if they hope to sustain their growth,” said Laura Sejen, global practice leader, rewards, Towers Watson. “When we looked at sustainable engagement scores among 50 global companies in a related piece of research and examined their one-year operating margins, we saw dramatic evidence of the impact of sustainable engagement on performance. The companies with high sustainable engagement had operating margins almost three times those of organizations with a largely disengaged workforce. That fact alone creates a compelling case for change.”
The Towers Watson study uses a specific set of questions to measure and classify respondents as to their level of sustainable engagement. Overall, the study showed that only 37% of U.S. workers are highly engaged in a sustainable way, meaning they scored high on all three elements of sustainable engagement.
Just over one-quarter (27%) are classified as unsupported, meaning they display traditional engagement, but lack the enablement and/or energy required for sustainable engagement. Thirteen percent are detached, meaning they feel enabled and/or energized but are not willing to go the extra mile. And almost one-quarter (23%) are completely disengaged, with less favorable scores for all three aspects of sustainable engagement.
Other key findings include:
- Fewer than half (47%) agree there are no substantial obstacles to getting their job done well.
- Slightly more than half (53%) don’t feel their organization makes it possible for them to have a healthy balance between work and personal life.
- Just under a third (30%) say they’re bothered by excess pressure on the job.
- Just under half (47%) believe their supervisors don’t have enough time to handle the people aspects of their role.
- Under one-third (32%) say their organization does a good job of providing opportunities for advancement.
- Only 37% agree their senior management does a good job at developing future leaders.
- Just under half (49%) say they have trust and confidence in their company’s senior leadership team.
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