12 nations with the most highly engaged workforces

New Gallup survey of 240,000 workers finds Central America has the most highly motivated employees. However, only 1 in 8 workers worldwide really cares about his or her job.

Currently, only 13% of employees across 142 countries worldwide are "engaged" in their jobs — meaning they are emotionally invested in and focused on creating value for their organizations every day.

That's the word from The Gallup Organization, which recently published the results of a global study of worker attitudes, based on input from 230,000 employees.  The good news is that there has been a slight uptick in the proportion of employees worldwide who are engaged in their jobs -- from 11% to 13%, while the proportion who are “actively disengaged” has fallen slightly from 27% to 24%. Still, it's pretty sad commentary on the state of management that one out of four employees have just completely checked out.

The region with the most active engagement among employees is Central America, with Panama and Costa Rica leading the list, and Guatemala and El Salvador making top spots on the list. Here are Gallup's 12 leading nations:

  1. Panama  37%
  2. Costa Rica  33%
  3. United States  30%
  4. Philippines  29%
  5. Qatar  28%
  6. Brazil  27%
  7. Colombia  26%
  8. Guatemala  26%
  9. United Arab Emirates  26%
  10. Australia 24%
  11. Chile  24%
  12. El Salvador  24%

At the bottom of the list of nations in terms of engaged workforces are Syria (0%), Croatia (3%), Tunisia (5%), Israel (5%), China (6%), and Japan (7%).

Overall, actively disengaged workers — i.e., those who are negative and potentially hostile to their organizations — continue to outnumber engaged employees at a rate of nearly two to one.

Why does this matter? Isn't it normal for people to hate or feel disconnected from their jobs? This has implications for organizations seeking to boost labor productivity as the global economy continues its rapid pace of change, Gallup points out in its report. More productivity means more opportunity. Plus, organizations face fierce competition in a hyper-competitive global marketplace, and those with the most inspired minds have the best chances of thriving.

The organizations with the most engaged workers -- the top 25% -- have significantly higher productivity, profitability, and customer ratings, less turnover and absenteeism, and fewer safety incidents than those in the bottom 25%, Gallup says. These top organizations also experienced 147% higher earnings per share compared with their competition, the polling firm estimates.

As a customer, it's often very easy to sense when you are encountering employees who just don't care -- whether it's in a store or calling into a customer care center.

Gallup also provides some advice on what organizations with the most highly engaged employees are doing differently:

They promote "the vision thing." Leaders don't look at employee engagement simply as a survey or a human resources initiative. They understand that there is "an emotional undercurrent to everything they do, which affects how they conduct business every day."

They hold managers accountable. "Highly engaged organizations hold managers accountable — not just for their team’s engagement, but also for how it relates to their team’s overall performance. They embed engagement into managers’ balanced scorecards and use it as performance evaluation criteria."

They talk to employees on a frequent and regular basis. Leaders "use every opportunity, touchpoint, and available communication channel to reinforce and recognize the organization’s commitment to employee engagement."

They encourage ongoing learning. "The world’s top-performing organizations start engaging employees from the minute they show up on the first day. These organizations have well-defined and comprehensive leader and manager development programs, but they also go one step further — they fully integrate employee engagement into these programs."

Photo: U.S. Army

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com