Today we’re excited to announce the next phase of our partnership with The Marcus Buckingham Company (TMBC)—a global provider of strengths-based performance tools and content.
TMBC has developed a powerful new metric, called the Global Engagement Index (GEI), a single metric which allows a team leader to see how engaged her team is.
To talk more about the methodology behind this powerful feature and share what the most powerful predictors of engagement really are is Marcus Buckingham himself.
For global organizations, measuring engagement can be especially tricky to do. Different countries respond to ratings scales in different ways—for example, South Americans and Southern Europeans are much more likely to use the positive extremes of a scale than Chinese, Japanese or Germans. Any employee engagement metric that does not accommodate these country-specific differences will yield consistently distorted data, leading to inaccurate and misleading cross-country comparisons.
Two years ago, TMBC set out to design and build a Global Engagement Index (GEI) that could take into account these inter-country differences and produce reliably comparable data. Our goals were:
- To measure reliably the overall level of engagement in each country, and to establish a stable baseline for each country.
- To provide all team leaders with a tool to compare their team’s engagement level against the country-specific baseline.
- To reveal, country by country, which conditions in the workplace are most likely to drive team members to become fully engaged at work.
The Engagement Pulse Instrument
The GEI is derived from TMBC’s Engagement Pulse, developed through decades of workplace research. From that research, 8 items emerged as most predictive of engagement:
- I am really enthusiastic about the mission of the company. (Purpose)
- At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me. (Purpose)
- In my team, I am surrounded by people who share my values. (Excellence)
- I have the chance to use my strengths every day at work. (Excellence)
- My teammates have my back. (Support)
- I know I will be recognized for excellent work. (Support)
- I have great confidence in my company’s future. (Future)
- In my work I am always challenged to grow. (Future)
The odd-numbered items measure aspects of the workplace that are communal — the “We” of the workplace. The even-numbered items measure aspects of the workplace that are individual — the “Me” of the workplace. In combination they capture the twin challenges of leading a team effectively: first, how to conjure within the team feelings of shared purpose, values, meaning and future; and second, how to ensure that each person feels understood, challenged and developed as a unique individual.
The GEI metric yields two related but distinct scores:
- Level of Engagement: This score reveals a team’s/company’s/country’s overall level of engagement.
- % Fully Engaged: This score reveals the percentage of a team/company/country who are psychologically committed to their work.
Our initial global study provides intriguing insights into the nature of engagement from country to country.
The Global Study
Research suggests that individuals respond to survey items differently based on language and culture. The GEI calibrates results to account for this effect, standardizing to allow for comparisons across all countries. On the “% Fully Engaged” score, for example, we can accurately compare percentages across countries and measure against a specific country baseline.
Findings: The Most Powerful Item
We discovered that, even after applying country-specific calibration, item 4 (I have the chance to use my strengths every day at work) demonstrated the greatest power in explaining engagement in every country in the study. This suggests that there is far greater consistency around the world to what team members want from their work than one might have expected. Although corporate methods, behaviors and values vary by country—and by industry—the most powerful human need at work remains the same: help me discover my strengths, and help me use them a lot.
Findings: Differences by Country
Though item 4 is the foundation of full engagement in every country in our study, the next “bricks” laid upon that foundation vary by country. Companies and team leaders need to be aware of these variations if they are to successfully build more teams like their most engaged teams.
- In the United States, the next most powerful predictor of Full Engagement is item 1: I am really enthusiastic about the mission of the company. In the US, the best way to build an effective team is to tie each person’s unique strengths to a universal purpose in which everyone can find shared meaning.
- The two countries whose workplace statistics most closely resemble the United States’ in this respect are China and Germany.
- In the UK and India, item 3 is the next strongest predictor of a fully engaged team: In my team, I am surrounded by people who share my values. This suggests that a sense of grand purpose is less powerful and less relevant than the sense that my teammates all value what I value.
- France, Canada, Brazil and Argentina display a different pattern. The next block laid upon the foundation in these countries is item 5: My teammates have my back. In these countries a fully engaged team has the quality of a tight-knit group of teammates who must stick together, protecting one another from external threat.
- Australian teams display another pattern altogether. In Australia, the most powerful next building block is item 7: I have great confidence in my company’s future. Here, team members appear to be demanding of their leaders: “Tell me why we will win.”
Conclusions and Next Steps
The GEI fills an important gap in our understanding of global employee engagement. Through the combination the country calibration, it provides team leaders with a reliable metric to measure their team’s overall level of engagement and their extremes of engagement, using the “% Fully Engaged” score. It also reveals the levers that best explain what drives full engagement within a particular country and culture.
In addition to the data gathered through the platform, we will repeat and extend this global study yearly. Our hope is that this ongoing research will yield an increasingly precise understanding of global engagement, and thereby contribute to all team leaders’ ability to build more fully engaged teams.
To learn more about the Global Engagement Index, visit our resource page here. And leave any questions or comments for Marcus below!