HR Management & Compliance, Recruiting

Employees Are Engaged when They Have Control

A recent, extensive survey on engagement and the global workforce has a lot to say about the state of engagement in America and what makes workers more likely to be engaged.

An unprecedented new report on the global work experience from Steelcase links high employee engagement with satisfaction with the work environment. The Steelcase Global Report: Engagement and the Global Workplace finds that only one-third of workers in 17 of the world’s leading economies are highly engaged, with the United States ranking sixth behind front-runners India, Mexico, and the United Arab Emirates.

The findings are a result of data collected with global research firm Ipsos from 12,480 workers in 17 countries. They show employees who have greater control over their work experiences, including abundant access to private spaces, are some of the most highly engaged in the world.

Steelcase undertook the research to understand the diverse workplace experiences throughout the world and to identify how the work environment can impact employee engagement. Results reveal that high workplace satisfaction is positively correlated with high employee engagement, meaning the physical workplace can be used as a strategic asset to improve engagement.

“As we analyzed this data, it was interesting to us how consistently the most engaged workers were those who had more control over their work experience, including the ability to concentrate easily and work in teams without being interrupted,” said Christine Congdon, director of research communications. “Workers who have the ability to choose where to work in the office based on the task they have to do are much more engaged in their work.”

Key Insights into the American Workplace:

  • U.S. falls behind Mexico but fairs better than Europe: The findings reveal Mexico has some of the most engaged and satisfied employees in the world, while U.S. employees rank sixth in the study with 14 percent of workers highly engaged. The established economies of France, Spain, and Belgium came in last.
  • Open offices are less prevalent in the United States. Despite the perception that the open office has taken over, only 21 percent of U.S. offices are entirely open plan. In fact, more workplaces are configured with entirely private offices than those comprising completely open-space configurations. The prevalence of all open-plan offices in the United States is below the global average (23 percent), and well below countries where real estate is more limited, such as in the United Kingdom where 49 percent of offices are entirely open.
  • Mobile tech adoption lags. American workplaces highly favor fixed technology and have the second highest reliance on landline phones of any country. Employers are also least likely to provide a mobile phone to their employees (26 percent). Considering landlines and desktops can quite literally tether employees to their desks, for some organizations this could play a role in restricting employee control and access to privacy.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at other findings from this report.