Global Employee Engagement Benchmark Study

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The current state of employee engagement worldwide

Great workplaces are in short supply 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.

“These experiences are sadly familiar to many employees,” says Michael C. Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work. “Moreover, they’re hurting companies’ agility, innovation and performance.”


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 Great Place to Work’s  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 coworkers 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 their employees.  

At 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 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.” 

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®. 

Marcus Erb

Marcus Erb is Vice President of Data Science & Innovation at Great Place to Work®. He and his team focus on turning data into actionable insights and tools for executives building high-performing workplaces. He is the co-author of research papers in Great Place to Work’s Innovation Insights Series, in addition to the book, “A Great Place to Work For All,” published in 2018.

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To be eligible for the World’s Best Workplaces list, a company must apply and be named to a minimum of 5 national Best Workplaces lists within our current 58 countries, have 5,000 employees or more worldwide, and at least 40% of the company’s workforce (or 5,000 employees) must be based outside of the home country. Extra points are given based on the number of countries where a company surveys employees with the Great Place to Work Trust Index©, and the percentage of a company’s workforce represented by all Great Place to Work surveys globally. Candidates for the 2017 Worlds Best Workplaces list will have appeared on national workplaces lists published in September 2016 through August 2017.