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State of the Global Workplace 2022 Report (part 1)

Gallup has just published its latest State of the Global Workplace report. You can download it here. As the title suggests, this is a vast, global survey carried out each year across more than 160 countries via randomly selected face-to-face or telephone interviews. The survey consists of a standard set of core questions that measure engagement, stress and wellbeing, view of the job market, and trust in employers.

I’m looking at their key findings (with particular focus on the UK) and will offer some thoughts of my own on what these mean for our businesses. In this first part, I am looking at engagement and job climate. In part two, I will look at wellbeing and trust.


Get ready for some eye-watering statistics! Here’s a headline:

Globally, just 21% of employees are engaged at work.

Herer’s another:

Europe is bottom of the league table for engagement, at just 14%.

It gets worse: the figure for the UK is just 9%. And it’s dropping. Only Kosovo fell faster, and they’re sitting at 24% so arguably have more room to manoeuvre! (If you’re interested, Romania tops the table at 33%, and Italy are at the bottom with just 4%!)

Gallup describes the global picture as “stable but not great”, which I believe is putting it mildly. They have also put a price on low engagement in the workplace. They’ve estimated it at US$7.8 trillion. (That’s about £6.5 trillion at today’s exchange rate). That’s 11% of global GDP. Safe to say: engagement matters! ! A report by Achievers showed that companies with highly engaged employees experience a 25% - 59% decrease in turnover (as well as 41% lower absenteeism).

A huge amount of this comes down to communication. To be fully engaged and feel a true sense of belonging, employees need to know and understand their employer's purpose, vision, and values. For most people, it is not enough to simply turn up, clock in, “do the day job”, clock out again, and get paid. Instead, most of us want to know how our work is of value and how we contribute to our employer's success. This gives us a sense of purpose, meaning, and relevance.

Similarly, most employees want to know how their employer is performing (even when that news isn’t great). That gives us trust and confidence in our leadership teams. We also need to feel connected to the business and to our colleagues, regardless of our working locations and shift patterns. Just as importantly, we need to feel that our voices are heard and that our feedback is taken on board. (A Qualtrics report found that companies that effectively turn feedback into action have an employee engagement rate twice that of companies that don’t.) Finally, we need to receive regular and meaningful feedback on -and recognition for- the work we do and the contributions we make.

Job climate

Linked to engagement, of course, are loyalty and commitment. In the Gallup survey, 45% of employees said now is a good time to find a job. That figure is 40% in the UK.

There are two ways to take this data. Is it a positive for employers that fewer than half of their people think this is a good time to be moving on? Or is it scary to think that two in every five employees are potentially buying into “the great resignation”? Given that, for the first time ever in the UK, job openings outnumber the unemployed, it’s my personal belief that employers who don’t take employee engagement and satisfaction seriously should be concerned.

We know that the needs and priorities of our younger workers (Millennials and Gen Z) differ from those of their parents and grandparents. That need for a sense of belonging and alignment to mission and culture (as discussed further up this page) get stronger as we move through the generations. Collaboration and recognition matter more to our younger colleagues, too.

According to research by EY, 97% of Gen Z are receptive to receiving feedback “on an ongoing basis or after completing a task”. Moreover, 63% prefer to receive timely feedback throughout the year, so relying on the old annual appraisal just won’t cut it with them. In fact, the State of Gen Z report claimed that two-thirds of Gen Z workers “need feedback from their supervisor every few weeks or more to stay in their job”.

To sum up part one of this look at Gallup’s report, there is some horrible news about employee engagement in the UK. The good news, however, is that much of this can be countered with some good communication practices. Communication is a fundamental building block for a successful business, and yet it is overlooked or undervalued by so many. As this new report shows, it could be a very costly oversight.

In a couple of days, I’ll be looking at wellbeing and trust in the second half of my look at Gallup’s report.


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