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Employees who feel supported in their jobs and are invested in their work tend to be not only more productive but also more profitable for their companies, according to a recent study from Canadian consulting firm Towers Watson.

The 2012 Towers Watson Global Workforce Study surveyed 32,000 employees around the world in 29 different markets. The goal of the study was to determine how employee engagement has fared during an economic downturn, political turmoil, financial pressures and increased global competition and how this engagement influences job performance.

Overview of the Study’s Results

  • 35 percent of employees are highly engaged worldwide (“The data suggest we are reaching a tipping point in companies’ ability to sustain high engagement across their workforces.”)
  • The remaining 65 percent of employees feel unsupported, detached or completely disengaged
  • Lower engagement puts employers at risk for lower job performance from employees, including decreased productivity, higher inefficiency, greater rates of absenteeism and turnover and higher costs for chronic illnesses.

Key Employee Engagement Concerns

  • Technology increases change in the workplace and alters the work itself, but the work environment and experience aren’t keeping up
  • Financial pressures are forcing already busy workers to “do more with less”
  • Companies are shifting risk and costs onto employees, especially in developed countries with high labor cost structures
  • Employees at all stages of their career are concerned about security and the retirement options available to them through their employers
  • Employees globally are working longer hours, taking less time off and experiencing higher stress levels

Factors that Drive Attraction, Retention and Sustainable Engagement

The study isn’t all bad news; it offers a list of factors that have a positive influence on attracting, keeping and engaging employees. Some of the top drivers are: attractive compensation, career advancement opportunities, learning and development opportunities, trust in senior leadership and balanced workload and stress levels.

This study’s results emphasize the importance of engaging employees through professional development opportunities and growth within a company. How do you think your organization would measure up in this survey? What more can you do to improve learning and development resources for your employees?

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