U.S. Employees Top List as Most Motivated and Committed Workers: Major Global Study

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A global study on employee engagement involved a survey of 160,000 employees at hundreds of different companies in ten of the largest world economies. U.S. employees are the most engaged (along with Brazilian workers); the French are the least engaged. Other findings: American employees feel an intellectual bond with employers, believing in company goals and values, and they're also the most likely, among employees in the countries surveyed, to exert that extra effort. You'll find these and other interesting study results outlined in the release.

Among employees in ten of the largest world economies, workers in the U.S. (and Brazil) are the most engaged with their companies, according to a major new study by ISR, the global employee-research and consulting firm. Engagement is defined as the degree to which workers identify with, are motivated by, and are willing to expend extra effort for their employer. Seventy-five percent of U.S. employees are engaged, compared with only 59 percent in France, the lowest-ranked country.

The survey also documented key differences among the countries in what dimensions of engagement matter most and what specific issues most influence engagement. Among the findings:

• U.S. employees are the most likely to connect to their organizations through an intellectual bond – i.e., to believe in the goals to which their organization aspires and to accept the values it articulates. Canadian employees, by contrast, are tied to their companies much more through an emotional attachment, e.g., a sense of pride in the organization.

• The single most important workplace issue affecting employee engagement in the U.S. is the availability of long-term career opportunities, refuting the notion that American workers are no longer interested in being loyal to their employers.

• On the behavioral aspect of engagement, U.S. employees are the most likely to exert extra effort on behalf of their employers; French employees are the least likely to do so.

These are just some of the findings of ISR's international survey and report on the nature of employee engagement and how best to improve it to enhance business performance. ISR surveyed nearly 160,000 employees in hundreds of different companies across a broad spectrum of industries in the U.S. and nine other large economies: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Singapore, and the U.K.

The new research builds on ISR's comprehensive 3-D model of employee engagement, which has the following components: cognitive (how employees think about their company), affective (how employees feel about their company), and behavioral (how employees act in relation to their company). Employee engagement is a crucial issue for organizations: earlier research by ISR showed conclusively that higher levels of employee engagement could improve a company's financial performance.

ISR's global study and report on engagement:

• Demonstrates large variations in the relative importance each of the dimensions assumes in the 10 countries

•Provides a framework for assessing and improving levels of employee engagement

• Focuses on the key drivers of engagement for each of the 10 countries and suggests policies and actions managers might adopt to improve employee engagement within their organizations

ISR's survey results and report make it clear that, for multinationals, a universal strategy to improve employee engagement driven from the corporate center is doomed to fail. Organizations must adapt to different cultural values and norms when it comes to attracting, motivating, and

retaining staff – who are crucial to improving their bottom line. ISR's study graphically illustrates that one size does not fit all when it comes to motivating employees to contribute to their company's success.

Culture Matters: The Picture in the U.S.

ISR's engagement index ranked U.S. employees No. 1 in engagement, but that is not cause for complacency among organizational leaders in the U.S., as Dr. Adam Zuckerman, ISR Executive Director, stated:

"This index enables managers in the U.S. to compare their company's engagement scores with those of other companies operating here. A gap between the two engagement scores would serve as a warning sign to those firms: if you wish to compete effectively by retaining your highest-performing workers, you should aspire at least to the level of engagement our index shows."

ISR's study found four core issues most influencing engagement in most of the ten countries studied – career development, leadership, image, and empowerment – but the relative importance of each of these core issues varied from place to place. For example, the issue of image – i.e., whether employees believe in the company's products and services – does not influence engagement in the U.S. but does affect it in most of the countries ISR studied. In fact, the full set of specific engagement drivers is unique for each country. These key drivers are crucial for managers to understand, as they present a guide to action planning for improving engagement in each country of operation. The top three key drivers of engagement in the U.S. are as follows:

1.Career development: The company offers long-term career opportunities for me.

2. Leadership: The company maintains high ethical standards.

3. Leadership: Management makes sufficient effort to get the opinions and thinking of employees.

ISR Project Director Dr. Soni Basi had this to say about the top driver of engagement in the U.S., long-term career opportunities:

"Given the economic roller coaster in the U.S. over the last few years, employees are looking for companies with the right value system, where they are allowed to grow their skill set and stretch their potential. The research suggests that once employees in the U.S. feel constrained in their opportunities, they will begin to seek opportunities with other companies. The message to leadership is clear: to encourage long-term retention of people, it is most important to offer people challenges that will allow them continually to develop their skills."

Maintaining high ethical standards ranked as the No. 2 key driver of engagement in both the U.S. and Canada. ISR's Dr. Zuckerman commented about this finding,

"U.S. employees have not forgotten the lessons of Enron, et al. It is important to note that employees in the U.S. have become somewhat cynical about corporate ethics and can easily see through vague or empty clichés and platitudes about the subject. What they desire are very specific communications and very visible evidence regarding ethical boundaries and ways by which the company will maintain them."

ISR's engagement survey and report provides leaders in the countries studies with (1) a way to compare their organization's engagement scores with those companies in the same country and elsewhere, (2) a sense of the dimensions of engagement that matter most, and (3) the specific issues that would be best to target if engagement needs to be improved.

Notes to editors

ISR is an international employee research and consulting firm. Founded in 1974, ISR helps organizations to improve employee engagement, retain key talent, increase productivity, enhance customer satisfaction, and increase shareholder value. ISR has surveyed more than 35 million employees from more than 3,000 companies in 106 countries. For more information, visit ISR's website, http://www.isrinsight.com.

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This press release was distributed through eMediawire by Human Resources Marketer (HR Marketer: http://www.HRmarketer.com) on behalf of the company listed above.

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Jean Fulton
ISR
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