Global engagement: How does Australia shape up?

by Cameron Edmond14 Oct 2013

Worldwide, only 13% of employees are engaged, translating to roughly 180 million employees across the 142-country Gallup study, State of the Global Workplace, from Gallup.

Employee engagement, as all HR professionals know, is an important part of ensuring commitment and positive contributions from employees. While non-engaged employees can present problems, those who seep into active disengagement can provide the most headaches. These three levels of employee engagement are summarised as:

Employees who work with passion and are connected to the company. They drive innovation and strive to move the organisation forward.

Not engaged
These workers do the work required, but without passion. While not damaging to an organisation, they do not drive innovation or strive to achieve the best they can, either.

These employees will attempt to undermine the organisation and what others attempt to accomplish. While non-engaged employees may be unhappy, disengaged employees act on their unhappiness to sabotage the organisation.

Globally, disengagement rates are higher than those engaged, coming in at 24% over the past two years. This is, however, a decrease from the 27% rate of the 2009-2010 periods. Non-engagement is up by 1%, coming in at 63%.

Australia and New Zealand feature the second highest level of employee engagement globally at 24%, coming in behind the US and Canada’s 29%. Justin Connor, conversation designer at Second Road, stated that these regions coming out on top can be attributed to their management styles.

“We can speculate that the egalitarian tendencies in these countries have had an effect on some companies, by keeping managerial structures relatively flat and thus opening the door for workers to have more input and feel more engaged with the decisions and direction of the company,” he said.

While the highest levels of actively disengaged workers are in the Middle East and North Africa region (35%) and the Sub-Saharan Africa region (33%), many developed regions were also found to fair unfavourably, with 20% of employees in Western Europe disengaged.

“Regardless of region or industry, businesses seeking to adapt to rapidly changing global economic conditions must learn how to maintain high-productivity workplaces and grow their customer bases in widely varying social, cultural, and economic environments,” Gallup stated. “Systems for reliably measuring and improving employee engagement across industries and regions worldwide are vital to that goal.”

Connor stated that employee disengagement or non-engagement is often a sign of organisations neglecting to integrate staff into the organisation’s narrative. “The problem of non-engaged workers needs to be addressed by bringing workers into the story of the organisation; making the organisational strategy into a narrative in which workers can find their own place.”

Connor suggested that organisations must use structured conversations to enable employees’ frustrations to be heard in an honest and genuine environment, allowing their aspirations and creativity to be expressed and harnessed.


Broken down by region, the full results are as follows:

United States and Canada
29% engaged, 54% not engaged, 18% actively disengaged.

Australia and New Zealand
24% engaged, 60% not engaged, 16% actively disengaged.

Latin America
21% engaged, 60% not engaged, 19% actively disengaged.

Commonwealth of independent states and nearby countries (Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Balrus and Azerbajan)
18% engaged, 62% not engaged, 21% actively disengaged.

Western Europe
14% engaged, 66% not engaged, 20% actively disengaged.

Southeast Asia
12% engaged, 73% not engaged, 14% actively disengaged.

Central and Eastern Europe
11% engaged, 63% not engaged, 26% actively disengaged.

Middle East and North Africa
10% engaged, 55% not engaged, 35% actively disengaged.

South Asia
10% engaged, 61% not engaged, 29% actively disengaged.

Sub-Saharan Africa
10% engaged, 57% not engaged, 33% actively disengaged.

East Asia
6% engaged, 68% not engaged, 26% actively disengaged.



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