The results are in from our bi-annual study into employee engagement around the world, and once again workers in the US are leading the way when it comes to the employee experience

Being an employee in the US is a pretty good place to be. According to 2018 State of Play report, looking at engagement for more than 6,000 full-time workers around the world, the US is trending above global averages across every key item we measured.

In fact, some 70% of workers in the US say they’re currently ‘extremely’ or ‘somewhat’ satisfied at work — some 4% above the next closest country, Australia, and way ahead of the least satisfied countries — France (51%), Singapore (50%) and Malaysia (50%).

It’s unsurprising then that the US also has the lowest employee churn with just 13% saying they ‘probably’ or ‘definitely’ will leave their current roles in the next 2 years.

However, the same pattern is not seen throughout. When we look at employee attrition, UK workers come surprisingly high given their relatively high satisfaction with 1 in 5 looking to leave, while there’s only a 3% variance between the UK as the country with the highest churn and our second highest, Australia, at 17%.

Beware the lazy generational stereotypes

At first glance, the data in our study may seem to reinforce some generational stereotypes around Gen Z and Millennial workers as younger workers seem more likely to leave their jobs and less likely to be satisfied in their current jobs.

This fits with the prevailing thinking that ‘job hopping’ younger workers tend to be less loyal to their employers than older generations who tend to be in it for the long haul.

In fact, 26% of workers under the age of 25 say they’re likely to leave in the next 2 years compared to just 16% of workers aged over 35.

But digging a little deeper, when we control for other variables, we see that tenure, and not age, is the key factor driving these responses.

Job satisfaction increases significantly as you progress through your career. In the early days, things are more difficult as employees are onboarded and take time to really understand their role and how it contributes to the company’s success. But as they get their feet under the table and ramp up, job satisfaction increases as they become more comfortable in the role and start to see the value they’re delivering.

This is true regardless of age.

This kind of growth curve demonstrates the need to move away from broad-brush engagement approaches and towards a more personalized employee experience strategy. Adapting your approach to employees based on where they are in their journey is an essential part of optimizing the experience for distinct groups of employees, rather than basing your approach on the ‘average employee’ or stereotypes around age.

We see a similar pattern when it comes to job roles too, with satisfaction increasing as people move up the career ladder:

Trainees are the one outlier in the data, though it’s hardly surprising that they are more positive than individual contributors — they haven’t started their job in earnest yet and are still ramping up, whereas individual contributors are in the next stage post-training where they’re expected to deliver value back to the organization.

As such, we’d expect to see a higher level of optimism from trainees than we would of those who already have experience of the role and understand both the good and the bad parts of the experience.

Employee Experience is difficult to get right and there’s no one-size fits all approach to improving it. Employees’ expectations change as they move through the lifecycle, and the most successful approaches to employee experience understand that each interaction has a different impact on the experience.

Listening to employees at every stage, whether that’s onboarding in the first few months or checking in on their career development after they’ve been with the company for a few years, is how employers can improve every moment that matters and ensure that, wherever employees are in their journey, they’re responding and meeting their expectations to help improve the experience for everyone.

To learn more about global employee engagements trends for 2018  view our, 2018 State of Play Employee Engagement Trends.

2018 State of Play: Employee Engagement Trends

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