Muscat: Countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) recorded high levels of employee engagement in 2017, according to a report by Aon, a leading global professional services firm, on the state of employee engagement in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region for 2018.
Global employee engagement stood at 65 per cent, while employee engagement in the Mena region was above the global average at 69 per cent, marking a five-point increase in 2017, the study revealed.
The GCC continued to record strong employee engagement levels at 70 per cent, which is higher than the Mena average, although it suffered a one-point decline in 2017, according to Aon.
Levant had the highest engagement score and increase across the region at 74 per cent in 2017, compared with 65 per cent the previous year, while North Africa surged eight points from 2016 figures to 65 per cent.
The UAE saw engagement levels drop two points from 70 per cent to 68 per cent, with the most significant drop being in the field of employee motivation and willingness to try new things for fear of occasional mistakes. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, which had previously recorded the highest employee engagement score in the region for two consecutive years, witnessed a two-point drop from 71 per cent to 69 per cent. The introduction of major economic and social reforms is seen as a potential contributing factor for the decline.
Aon, a global professional services firm that provides a broad range of risk, retirement, and health solutions, measured employee engagement for more than 200 companies across the Mena region and analysed data from more than 250,000 employee responses. More than 28 industries were represented in the study, which scrutinised the levels and drivers of engagement among employees across the region.
The Aon study’s most significant finding is how businesses are currently preparing for future technologies through employee engagement programmes. According to the study, companies are now looking at nurturing staff skills and strengthening their technical know-how on technological advances such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Businesses have also set increased exposure to senior leadership and strategy as priority areas for their employees.
“The findings of our proprietary employee engagement study in MENA reflect the transformational changes that the region is witnessing today," said Christopher Page, CEO for Talent, Rewards, and Performance at Aon Middle East and Africa. "With increased focus by regional governments on embracing digital technology as a driver for socio-economic progress, it is rewarding to see that businesses are aligned with this vision and investing in building the future-tech skills of their employees."
"This fits in with the true definition of employee engagement, which is all about the level of an employee’s psychological investment in an organisation,” he added. “Through enhanced employee engagement and continuous listening, businesses can not only achieve their organisational goals but also contribute to a happy and productive society.”
The study asked employees if they could say positive things about their organisation and act as advocates, if they intend to stay at their workplace for a long time, and if they are motivated to give their best to help the organisation succeed. In addition to this “Say, Stay, Strive” model, the Aon Employee Engagement model also evaluated 16 work-experience dimensions.
“Organisations in the Mena region continue to face uncertainty and disruption, but our report underpins the fact that they are making a conscious effort to invest in people and talent strategies that enhance the work experience for long-term success," said Khalid Youssef, Associate Partner and Employee Engagement Practice Lead at Aon Middle East & Africa.
"The bottom line for businesses is that they must clearly understand their top engagement focus areas and identify the best interventions to elevate the employee experience around those,” he added.