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Employee engagement measures score low – What’s Working™ study


Employee engagement

What’s Working™, a recently conducted US survey  (Mercer, 2011), indicates that nearly one in three (32%) workers is seriously considering leaving the organization now, the rate increasing sharply from 23% in 2005. 

Mindy Fox, Senior Partner at Mercer & US Region Leader mentioned that “the business consequences of this erosion in employee sentiment are significant, and clearly the issue goes far beyond retention. Diminished loyalty and widespread apathy can undermine business performance, particularly as companies increasingly look to their workforces to drive productivity gains and spur innovation”(Mercer, 2011).

The study results reflect that:

  • Only 43% of US employees believe they are doing enough to financially prepare for retirement;
  • Only 68% of employees rate their overall benefits program as good or very good, down from 76% in 2005, while 59% say they are satisfied with their health care benefits, down from 66%;
  • Base pay, the most important element of the employment deal, is less satisfying for employees (53% satisfied with base pay, compared with 58% in 2005);
  • Scores for career development and performance management improved compared to the study results from 2005, remaining however low: only 42% of employees today agree that promotions go to the most qualified employees in their organization, up from 29% in 2005, while 46% agree that their organization does an adequate job of matching pay to performance, up from 33% (Mercer, 2011).

Key measures regarding employee engagement registered low scores also, while intention to leave the organization is up across all employee segments, with the youngest workers most likely to be looking for a departure – 40% of employees age 25–34 and 44% of employees 24 and younger, as shown in the graphic above.

The What’s Working™ survey was realized over the past two quarters among nearly 30,000 workers in 17 countries, including 2,400 workers in the US. The survey, last conducted in the US in 2005, includes more than 100 questions on a range of work-related topics and reflects the overall demographics of the US workforce in terms of age, gender and job level. This research also is being conducted in 16 other countries worldwide (Mercer, 2011).


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