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Global differences in worker engagement

Workers around the world are fired up by completely different things. According to new research, a global, one-size-fits-all approach to employee engagement will almost inevitably fail. A study of workers in 22 countries by HR consultancy Mercer has found that people vary enormously in the value they place on their job.

Mercer’s research, Engaging employees to drive global business success, shows that context counts when it comes to employee engagement. “The drivers of engagement vary from country to country and from company to company,  even within companies,” said Dr Gilbert, a principal consultant at Mercer. “That’s why it’s important for employers to identify and manage the unique drivers of engagement within their own organisations.”

For Britons and Americans it is all about respect. For workers in France and India it is the type of work they are doing. For Germans it is who they work with. And for the Japanese, it is pay.

Overall, respect was identified as having the strongest impact on engagement globally, and was the top factor noted in the UK and U.S.

But it was notable that in Japan, where respect is much more of a given in society and culture in general, it was considered a much less significant driver of employee engagement.

Similarly, workers in France and India cited the type of work they were doing as the strongest driver of engagement for them.

In Japan, employees rated base pay as their most important factor, while in China, benefits topped the list.

German workers, like Australians, cited the people they worked with as their strongest factor.

While employees across the world considered a healthy work-life balance to be an important driver of engagement, this was less of a factor for workers in China and India.

Being able to provide good customer service was also a strong driver globally, especially in the UK, yet was rated by Japanese workers as the least important of their 12 factors.

“Even when workplace characteristics are shared, such as English as a first language, differences in national culture, the state of economic development and market conditions can have a significant influence on employee expectations and perceptions of the workplace and, subsequently, on employee engagement,” said Dr Gilbert.

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