Recognise This! – Employees worldwide are disengaging at work, leaving organisations at a competitive disadvantage.

Recent research out of Kenexa is showing employee engagement on the decline globally.

“EEI scores declined, not only in the aggregate of these economies, but in each individual country as well. The pattern of scores over time is fairly consistent (Figure 2), with all six countries exhibiting an inverted U-shape trend from 2007 to 2011, reflecting gains followed by a drop. Five of the countries peaked in 2009, with China being the lone exception, having peaked a year later in 2010.”

Why is this occurring? The research report doesn’t speculate, just reporting on the decline in engagement across industries and job types.  Seeing the peak illustrated in the this chart (which is reflected throughout the research) leads me to think employees who survived rounds of layoffs engaged initially. Then with perceived improvements in the economy, employees began to think employers would reinvest in the organisation, perhaps begin rehiring. When little of that became evident in 2010, we see engagement dropping once again.

Organisations must recommit to employees and begin to reinvest. The Kenexa research supports this, commenting:

“Across the six-country sample in 2011, the top three drivers of employee engagement were work/life balance (WLB), leadership effectiveness and training. Leaders may impact employee engagement through these three key areas. First, regarding WLB, leaders may institute a more flexible work schedule to allow employees the latitude needed to better cope with competing home and work demands. Secondly, leaders should start with the person in the mirror; simply developing better leadership skills and competencies may lead employees to be more engaged at work. Lastly, leaders could provide employees training opportunities, not just to learn skills important to their current job, but skills needed for possible future jobs as well. This investment in their future will surely drive employees’ engagement scores up.”

Have you seen a similar drop in engagement across your organisation? What are your leaders doing to remedy the drop?