According to the consultancy, globally, as well as across all regions - career opportunities remained the top driver to make a positive impact on overall engagement levels.
Aon Hewitt's analysis shows recognising the extra effort employees have given in a tough business climate by providing feedback and positive reinforcement will pay dividends - and it often comes at no cost to the organisation. It found recognition has a higher impact for employees in Asia Pacific and Latin America than in other regions.
People want to be part of a respected and winning team. Aon Hewitt's analysis found that European and North American employees are more concerned about their company's reputation and what it stands for in the market versus recognition.
Jenny Merry, UK engagement practice leader at Aon Hewitt, said: "2012 will be a challenging year for employers in this category as a result of limited career development and advancement opportunities. Now, more than ever, organisations must communicate clear career paths, prepare employees for the next role and provide lateral growth opportunities for key employees."
"Employees join organisations that have a reputation as a best employer, and they are also engaged by working for a best employer. This driver is about connecting employees to the company, the mission and the work beyond financial business performance, and showing them how their work experience cannot easily be replicated elsewhere."
The analysis analysis also found effective and engaging communication resonates with employees in rationally, emotionally and behaviorally relevant ways.
Merry added: "Corporate communication is the primary connection point between the majority of employees and executive leadership. We saw that employee perceptions of communication declined in 2011.
"As companies recovered from the recession, they likely became less focused on clear and consistent communication from leaders. Messages usually break down at the mid-management or immediate manager level so it is important for the leaders to continue to provide clear messages about business objectives, challenges and what is required of employees."
The consultancy's 2012 Global Engagement report, which analysed the engagement trends of more than 3,100 organisations representing 9.7 million employees worldwide, found 58% of employees were engaged in 2011, up from 56% in 2010.