Australia boasts high employees engagement levels
Written by Josh Armstrong
According to Gallup's 2013 State of the Global Workplace report released today (9 October 2013), Australia and New Zealand boast some of the highest engagement levels among workers in the world – but we can do better. Much better.
With a ratio of 1.5 engaged employees to every 1 disengaged employee, Australasian workplaces are ever-so-slightly behind the United States and Canada (1.6-to-1).
However winning the race isn't enough. Despite being among the best regions in the world for engagement, only 24 percent of all workers are engaged in their jobs in Australia. 16 percent of employees are actively disengaged and an overwhelming 60 percent of workers in Australia are not engaged.
Comparing Australia's number of 1.5:1 with top companies like Google, who achieve a ratio of 9.57:1, and the ideal engagement ratio of 8:1, we're really falling behind.
Tradies and Farmers More Engaged Than Office Workers
The study has found that higher education doesn't lead to higher levels of engagement. Those without secondary-level education or higher were more likely to be engaged in their job than those who continued to study throughout their teens and into their twenties.
Farmers, tradies and service workers boasted higher engagement levels than those who made their way to an office building each day.
That should be very worrying for business owners, managers and HR departments all over the country.
Engagement levels also drop significantly to just 19 percent among employees in leadership positions. Managers and executives with lower engagement levels than those they lead should leave business owners very concerned; these are the people who have the biggest influence on staff and profitability.
Engaged companies perform better
40 percent of employees reported that their employee was hiring new people and expanding during the study, while 22 percent said that their employer was letting people go.
However, among those who were engaged, staff were six times more likely to respond that their organisation was hiring and only 9% of these employees said that the company was letting workers go.
Among the actively disengaged, 31percent stated that the organisation they worked for was reducing its size.
Engagement in the workplace expands far past staff “having a good time” - engaged offices boast growth while the disengaged seem to be lagging behind. This keeps in line with previous studies by Gallup which show engaged companies outperform competitors by as much as 28 percent.
Australian businesses need to engage
With plenty of innovators, growing startups, talented workers who contribute to more than 2.1 million businesses across the country, Australia should be leading the world in employee engagement. To guarantee success, appeal to customers and really make an impact, owners and managers need employees who don't just clock-in and clock-out, they need employees who are invested in the success of the business, those who are excited to come into work and those who couldn't understand why anyone would fake a sick-day.
With the average cost of replacing a single staff member close to $20,000, disengagement costs Australian businesses close to $33 billion annually. Employee turnover is a huge drain on Australian business and its impact could be minimised greatly with a focus on engagement and appealing to the needs of employees.
Engagement doesn't cost a lot either. It's not about financial rewards, it's not about offering huge bonuses and it's not a problem that needs money thrown at it. Ceridian's recent Pulse of Talent survey in September revealed that the number one driver of employee engagement was recognising and rewarding staff achievement.
Josh Armstrong, specialises in employee engagement at GiftItNow Corporate and looks at how companies can motivate and reward staff through gifts, experiences and activities.
“Every business should look at engaging with things like staff reward programs, and the truth is, that what employees really want are benefits, responsibility, recognition and a healthier work-life balance,” said Mr Armstrong.
“Studies show, that after reaching the pay level of $70,000 per year, the majority of Australians say that they would take benefits like flexible work hours, the ability to telecommute a day or two per week and a more positive company culture over a raise.”
Mr Armstrong has advice for business owners and managers to increase staff productivity.
“Focus on staff. Create a healthier working environment and put effort into maintaining a work-life balance. Keeping employees happy, offering regular feedback and recognising their achievements can and will lead to higher levels of engagement, more productivity and increased profits.”
Business Chief Legend: Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek
Ask Singaporeans who Ho Ching is, and the majority will answer the ‘wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’. And that’s certainly true. However, she’s also the CEO of Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, and one of the world’s largest investment companies.
Well, she is until October 1, 2021, as she recently announced she would be retiring following 16 years as CEO of the investment giant.
Since taking the reins in 2004, two years after joining Temasek as Executive Director, Ho has gradually transformed what was an investment firm wholly owned by Singapore’s Government into an active investor worldwide, splashing out on sectors like life sciences and tech, expanding its physical footprint with 11 offices worldwide (from London to Mumbai to San Francisco) and delivering growth of US$120 billion between 2010-2020.
Described by Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng as having taken “bold steps to open new pathways in finding the character of the organisations”, Ho is credited with building Temasek’s international portfolio, with China recently surpassing Singapore for the first time.
As global a footprint as Ho may have however, she has her feet firmly planted on Singapore soil and is committed to this tiny city-state where she was not only educated (excluding a year at Stanford) but has remained throughout her long and illustrious career – first as an engineer at the Ministry of Defence in 1976, where she met her husband, and most notably as CEO of Singapore Technologies, where she spent a decade, and where she is credited with repositioning and growing the group into the largest listed defence engineering company in Asia.
It’s little wonder Ho has featured on Forbes’ annual World’s Most Powerful Women list for the past 16 years, in 2007 as the third most powerful woman in business outside the US, and in 2020 at #30 worldwide.
But it’s not all business. Ho has a strong track record in Singapore public service, serving as chairman of the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research and as deputy chairman of the Economic Development Board; and is a committed philanthropist with a focus on learning difficulties and healthcare.
As the pandemic kicked off, she not only led active investments in technology and life sciences, with German COVID-19 vaccine developer BioNTech among the most recent additions to Temasek’s portfolio, but through the Temasek Foundation – the firm’s philanthropic arm which supports vulnerable groups close to Ho’s heart, handed out hand sanitiser and face masks.
So, you would be forgiven for thinking that at age 68, Ho might simply relax. But in March 2021, just as she announced her retirement from Temasek, Ho joined the Board of Directors of Wellcome Leap, a US-based non-profit organisation that’s dedicated to accelerating innovations in global health. Not ready to put her firmly grounded feet up yet it seems.