Employee Engagement Rebounds in Financial Sector

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Modern Survey Finds Dramatic Increases in Employee Engagement for Both U.S. and Canadian Financial Services Industries

The improvement in employee engagement levels that we're seeing in the financial services industry is tremendously encouraging. Since the linkage between employee engagement levels and business performance has been well documented and accepted in the business community, these findings should give reason for optimism in the industry.

By May of 2008, the financial services industry was on the precipice of a meltdown, but the gravity of the situation was not yet widely known or accepted. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was hovering around 13,000, the Nasdaq Composite Index was around 2,500 and Modern Survey's Employee Engagement Index showed that a startling 23% of U.S. financial services workers were actively disengaged from their jobs and organizations. Now, Modern Survey's latest employee engagement study has uncovered, by May of 2009, the engagement levels of workers within the financial services industry had begun to show a remarkable turnaround. The number of disengaged workers in the U.S. financial services sector had been cut in half, to only 11%. In Canada, the number of fully engaged financial services workers had shown a very clear increase, from 10% a year ago to 16% in 2009.

Modern Survey's Employee Engagement Index uses five questions that gauge the extent to which employees: take pride in their company, believe they have a promising future at their company, recommend their company as a great place to work, go "above and beyond" their normal job duties to help their company succeed, and intend to stay with their company. Of the five survey items used to measure engagement, the largest change in response from 2008 to 2009 for both U.S. and Canada occurred with the "Inspired to go 'above and beyond' normal job duties" question. While the Canadian Index showed an impressive change in responses favorable to this question, from 56% in 2008 to 67% this year, the U.S. Index revealed even more staggering growth from 58% to 73%. Both groups have demonstrated a very positive trend, posting statistically significant gains across four out of five index items, portraying financial service workers as increasingly willing to do more at their jobs. The only negative change to an index item occurred for both groups with the "Intends to stay with company" question, though neither change is large enough to be statistically significant.

As a result of the more severe industry challenges in the U.S., the changes in responses from 2008 to 2009 are more extreme in the U.S. than in Canada for most survey questions. Yet it is worth noting that the trends from 2008 to 2009 run in parallel for both groups.

As to the cause of this rebound in engagement levels, Modern Survey President Don MacPherson notes, "There are a number of factors which could be affecting these figures, including layoffs which may have trimmed out less engaged employees, changes in business practices due to market conditions, and the increased level of public scrutiny over the financial sector. I think it's also reasonable to conclude that employees, especially in the financial sector, are generally feeling more fortunate to have a job and are therefore feeling compelled to put forth their best effort at the office."

Regardless of the reason for this turnaround, the figures are no doubt an encouraging sign to an industry that took so many hits in 2009, both financially and in terms of public relations. According to MacPherson, "The improvement in employee engagement levels that we're seeing in the financial services industry is tremendously encouraging. Since the linkage between employee engagement levels and business performance has been well documented and accepted in the business community, these findings should give reason for optimism in the industry."

Findings:

May 2008 U.S. Engagement Levels
Disengaged - 23%
Under Engaged - 32%
Moderately Engaged - 32 %
Highly Engaged - 13%

May 2009 U.S. Engagement Levels:
Disengaged - 11%
Under Engaged - 38%
Moderately Engaged - 35%
Highly Engaged - 16%

May 2008 Canadian Engagement Levels:
Disengaged - 15%
Under Engaged - 41%
Moderately Engaged - 33 %
Highly Engaged - 10%

May 2009 Canadian Engagement Levels:
Disengaged - 14%
Under Engaged - 34%
Moderately Engaged - 36%
Highly Engaged - 16%

May 2008 U.S. Engagement Index Results (percent favorable):
Takes pride in company - 76%
Sees promising future in company - 54%
Recommends company - 54%
Intends to stay with company - 58%
Goes "above and beyond" - 65%

May 2009 U.S. Engagement Index Results (percent favorable):
Takes pride in company - 85%
Sees promising future in company - 68%
Recommends company - 63%
Intends to stay with company - 73%
Goes "above and beyond" - 62%

May 2008 Canadian Engagement Index Results (percent favorable):
Takes pride in company - 76%
Sees promising future in company - 57%
Recommends company - 56%
Intends to stay with company - 56%
Goes "above and beyond" - 66%

May 2009 Canadian Engagement Index Results (percent favorable):
Takes pride in company - 83%
Sees promising future in company - 65%
Recommends company - 67%
Intends to stay with company - 67%
Goes "above and beyond" - 65%

About the Study:
The five Employee Engagement Index questions were posed to a nationally representative sample of financial services industry workers in Canada and in the U.S. in May of 2008. Modern Survey then repeated the questions on another industry-specific survey conducted this May. Each survey was administered online and included people who work full-time or part-time in organizations with 100 or more total employees. The survey was completed by representative samples of 300 Canadian and 300 U.S. financial services workers this year, and 300 Canadian and 200 U.S. financial services workers in May of 2008.

Clarifying Engagement Levels:
Modern Survey has developed a proprietary method for categorizing individual workers into four distinct levels of engagement, based on the pattern of answers each worker gives to our Engagement Index questions. Fully engaged employees answer at least four of the five questions with the most positive response possible. Moderately Engaged employees give mostly positive answers, while Under Engaged employees give mostly neutral to mildly positive answers. Disengaged employees give mostly negative answers.

About Modern Survey:
In less than a decade, Modern Survey has established itself as a leader in the online survey industry, providing a robust suite of proprietary technologies combined with an array of consultative services that help our clients manage talent throughout the employee life cycle, measure and evaluate customer satisfaction and gain insight into changing markets. Modern Survey products and services have spanned 100 countries on six continents in over 30 languages. Each year, Modern Survey receives over one million web survey responses and generates tens of thousands of advanced reports. Through direct and partner channels, Modern Survey's tools and services have reached more than 500 companies, over 80 of which are among the Fortune 500. http://www.modernsurvey.com

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Jennifer Halstead
Modern Survey
(612) 399-3837 ext. 110
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