Who Are the Most Engaged Employees Around the World?


The current state of employee engagement worldwide

Great workplaces are in short across the globe. According to our new study at Great Place to Work®, employees worldwide persistently experience a lack of trust, purpose and connection at work. 

“Employee engagement isn't a silver bullet, but it can have some great impact on your organization,” says Cathal Divilly, CEO of Great Place to Work Ireland. “And it doesn’t just correlate with great organisations, it can create great organisations.”


Our 2021 Global Employee Engagement Benchmark study reveals the state of workplaces worldwide. Conducted in the summer of 2021, the study surveyed over 14,000 workers across 37 countries to determine the average employee experience around the world.

Employees rated their workplace against 17 statements in the Great Place to Work  Trust Index™ survey. The statements measure factors that contribute to a positive employee experience, such as a sense of purpose, innovation opportunities, psychological safety, perceptions of leaders and fairness.


Employee engagement index in 37 countries 

Our study finds that only about half of employees worldwide are experiencing a great workplace. There is little variation across regions. In the highest scoring region, Latin America, just 60% of employees report a positive employee experience. In the lowest scoring region, Europe, only 52% of employees report a positive employee experience.


Few differences emerged across industries, except in hospitality, where the overall average employee experience sits at a low of 49%. All other industries included in our study averaged between 54% and 60%.

4 key employee experiences are holding companies back

Why are great workplaces so rare? The study reveals four challenges common to most workplaces today: 

1. Equity

More than half of workers feel pay and promotions are handled unfairly. 

2. Meaningful connections

A significant portion of workers report a pervasive lack of personal connection and psychological safety: 

  • 43% believe their co-workers don’t care for each other

  • 35% say they don’t feel they can be themselves at work

  • 45% say their workplaces are not psychologically and emotionally healthy

3. Purpose

A large percentage of respondents also said their work lacked meaning or failed to make a difference, a clear signal that employees still struggle to experience purpose in their work. 

4. Leadership

Finally, nearly half of all employees reported weak or poor relationships with their leaders with roughly half indicating their leaders do not:

  • Care for them as people

  • Involve them in decisions

  • Match their actions to their words

These challenges mean that the average company is missing out on the full potential of its employees. 

In average workplaces around the globe, a poor employee experience undermines companies’ ability to take advantage of new market opportunities and outpace their competitors. 


The high cost of poor employee engagement

Most workplaces will struggle to keep their talent, with nearly half of employees saying they do not intend to stay with their employer. Companies also face a challenge in attracting new talent, as nearly half of employees are unwilling to recommend their employer. Among those employees that stay, two out of five indicate negative experiences at work hinder their ability to contribute to innovation

While great workplaces are rare, the World’s Best Workplaces™ show their possibility and potential. Employees at these globally great workplaces report consistently positive experiences of leadership, purpose in their work, and meaningful connections with their colleagues.

As a result, these workplaces enjoy:

  • 52% higher levels of intent to stay 
  • 65% more employees willing to recommend their employer to others

It’s an understatement to say the last year has been an incredible challenge for people inside and outside of work,” says Bush. “The World’s Best Workplaces show the power companies have to positively impact their employees’ lives, no matter where they work, who they are or what challenges face us as a global community.


Are Irish employees engaged at work?

In Ireland as well, employees are more engaged in Certified™ organisations than in other Irish organisations. 

Compared to Irish people in other organisations, employees working at Irish Certified™ organisations are:

  • 22% more likely to experience a great workplace 
  • 17% more likely to stay with their employer
  • 24% more likely to recommend their employer

LinkedIn or Facebook Post (25)

In this context where our LinkedIn feed is full of employees offboarding and “delighted to be starting a new position”, making sure employees feel engaged throughout their career in their organisation is a key factor in employee retention. But employee engagement is not only about virtual quizzes and performance reviews, and here are the best tips to foster employee engagement in a meaningful way.


How to Foster Employee Engagement?

When building a health and wellbeing strategy within your organisation, you can sometimes face a lack of engagement from your team members. This can be due to a number of factors, from time constraints and work pressure to poor communication and lack of relevance. Find below some advice to foster your employee engagement.

- Set clear goals for your people: Your people need to feel they are working on a specific goal, and understand the impact that it is having on the organisation. When an organisation has a clear strategy, and people can see how their work fits in, they will feel more aligned.

- Stay connected with everyone, no matter where they work: Communication takes a crucial place in the development of a well-being strategy at work. Optimal and healthy communication is ideal to develop strong and healthy relationships and trust with your team members. Find out how to develop healthier communication in a working environment.

- Ask for feedback, and act on it: When people feel that they are being heard on a regular basis, they are more likely to provide feedback on what support would make the most sense for them. It is crucial that this feedback is acted on, even if at times it means saying no. Ignoring feedback can harm long-term engagement.

- Demonstrate empathy, authenticity & promote transparency: People are more likely to be engaged when they know they can be themselves and can express who they are and how they feel.  Learn more about how to be a healthier manager.

- Recognise your people’s achievements: Employee engagement will rise when you show your people you value them. Reward their work and celebrate important events of their life to make them realise they are considered as people first, not just employees. Here is a list of ideas to show appreciation and lift employee wellbeing

- Concentrate on togetherness: Your employee engagement will increase if you make your people feel part of a wider entity. Encourage mutual help and socialisation among your team members for them to get to know each other and reinforce relationships.


Want to run your own employee survey?

Get in touch with Great Place to Work to survey your employees, benchmark your company culture and improve your employee experience. With our Trust Index survey, you can measure your workplace against industry leaders like the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For®.


More helpful resources on Employee Engagement:

About Great Place to Work®

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on workplace culture. We help organizations quantify their culture and produce better business results by creating a high-trust work experience for all employees. We recognise Great Place to Work-Certified™ companies and the Best Workplaces™ in more than 60 countries.

To join the thousands of companies that have committed to building high-trust company cultures that help them attract, retain and take care of their people, contact us about getting Certified™ today.