The 2012 Global Workforce Study provides a snapshot of the attitudes and concerns of 32,000 workers around the world. It sheds light on how employees’ views affect their engagement in their work and commitment to their employers, and ultimately, their behavior and performance on the job. As such, it provides us with important insights into the elements of the work environment that help shape employee behavior and performance in positive ways to support growth goals. And it presents a new and more robust definition of engagement —sustainable engagement — designed for the 21st-century workplace.

Globally, nearly two-thirds (65%) of the more than 32,000 full-time workers participating in our study are not highly engaged. While this isn’t surprising — considering workers have been doing more with less, and for less, for over half a decade — it poses a significant risk for employers. Are they at a critical tipping point in their ability to sustain engagement over time? And if they are, what actions can they take to turn the tide, given the significant implications of declining engagement on productivity and performance?

Other key findings from the survey:

  • Stress and anxiety about the future are common.
  • Security is taking precedence over almost everything.
  • Attracting employees is almost entirely about security.
  • Retaining employees has more to do with the quality of the work experience overall.
  • Employees have doubts about the level of interest and support coming from senior leaders.