· News

The military has the most engaged workforce in the country, says Kenexa

Strong leadership, pride in the organisation and inspired decision making are some of the reasons the military has the most engaged employees of any sector in the UK, according to Kenexa’s 2012 Work Trends Report into employee engagement.

The employee engagement index (EEI) score of 75% for the military is significantly higher than that of other sectors, such as banking (42%), retail and wholesale trade (49%) and the food industry (46%).

The report shows the UK not only has low engagement scores in many sectors but is also behind on a global scale.

Globally, the banking services have an EEI score of 57%, retail of 51% and food industry of 54%. The largest gap is in the healthcare products and pharmaceuticals sector where the UK has an EEI score of 36% compared to the global score of 59%.

Andrew Jackson, vice president of government solutions at Kenexa and a former head of recruitment for the British Army, said: "Research has shown it is your younger employees that will be the most engaged. The military is a young persons game and the cuts are effecting the older generation, which has led to high engagement scores.

"However, the main reasons come from strong leadership. If you have inspiring leaders and are well led then it can drive up engagement. The military is also extremely mission orientated so sends out a clear message of what it wants from its employees."

Jackson added: "There is an immense amount of pride and professionalism in the military and it instils this in its employees.

"Other sectors, such as the banking industry, should look at this culture and see how they can relate it to them."

The highest engagement index scores are in India, while high-moderate scores are found in Mexico and Denmark. Moderate scores are found in the majority of countries, including the US. Low-moderate scoring countries include the UK, France and Germany. Japan was the only country to score under 40%.

The research also shows that senior leaders make a difference - UK employees who consider their leaders trustworthy score 82%. Those who consider their leaders untrustworthy only score 13%.

Direct managers have a big impact on engagement. Employees who have effective direct managers score 75% as opposed to 12% if line managers are ineffective.

The report identifies several 'best practices' that organisations should carry out to boost engagement. These include: publishing a statement of the organisation's mission, vision, values or strategy; conducting an employee opinion survey; conducting regular performance appraisals; and cross-training employees. When all of these practices are implemented, EEI levels reach 82%.

The research claims the most engaged employees are those at the top of the organisation and scores decrease as you move down the organisational hierarchy.

Among the most engaged job types are professionals, while labourers are among the least engaged. This trend highlights the importance of challenging and stimulating work to employee engagement, the research found.

The report also shows that, when looking at engagement by generation, millennials exhibit higher EEI scores than Gen Xers and Boomers.