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U.S. and Canadian Workers Report Highest Engagement Levels in the World Despite Higher Stress Levels for Women

Gallup's latest State of the Global Workplace Report reveals interesting worker trends.

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Gallup’s recent State of the Global Workplace Report finds that, despite more than two years of the pandemic, U.S. and Canadian workers seemed to rebound in 2021. Employees reported higher life evaluations than the previous year and declines across several negative emotions. In 2021, 33 percent of U.S. and Canadian employees were engaged at work and 60 percent were thriving in their wellbeing, compared to the rest of the world, where 21 percent were engaged and 33 percent were thriving.

Gallup research has consistently found that employee engagement is a significant driver of organizational success. Businesses and organizations with high employee engagement achieve higher productivity, better customer relationships, lower turnover, and higher profitability.

Globally, employee engagement and wellbeing remain very low, and it is holding back enormous growth potential. Gallup estimates that low employee engagement costs the global economy $7.8 trillion.

The pandemic years have been marked by a global stagnation in engagement. However, the U.S. and Canada region remains the most engaged in the world, while Europe and Middle East/North Africa (MENA) have the lowest engagement. Remarkably, South Asia saw the strongest growth in engagement—an increase of 9 percentage points—even as the region saw declines across other measures.

The job market also seems to have recovered. Forty-five percent of currently employed workers around the world said now is a good time to find a job, up slightly from last year but less than the record 55 percent in 2019. Global job opportunities had been rising steadily in the decade prior to the pandemic.

The regional outlier for this item is the U.S. and Canada region, which leads the world at 71 percent, up 44 percentage points from the previous year. This number is even more remarkable given that Gallup surveys the U.S. year-round, so it’s unlikely due to a specific moment of 2021. The next closest regions are Australia and New Zealand at 59 percent and South Asia at 50 percent.

“While, as a region, the U.S. and Canada have significantly more engaged and thriving employees in comparison with the global workforce, U.S. and Canadian employees report higher daily worry and stress than is the case globally,” says Jim Harter, Gallup’s chief workplace scientist. “The U.S. and Canada also have some significant differences between them. Employees in the U.S. report a higher percentage of engaged employees, and Canadian employees, while less engaged, are more likely to be thriving in their overall lives. Engagement at work and overall wellbeing are both important to reduce the chance of burnout.”

Global employee stress reached another all-time high in 2021 at 44 percent, driven mostly by increased stress in South Asia and East Asia. Like daily worry, stress has been rising for employees for a decade, with a notable increase during the pandemic. The most stressed regions of the world include East Asia (55 percent), Latin America (50 percent), and U.S. and Canada (50 percent).

Generally, employed women and employees under 40 report higher levels of stress. Working women in Latin America and the U.S. report some of the highest levels of stress in the world—60 percent in Latin America and 54 percent in U.S. and Canada.

The global percentage of thriving employees reached a record high in 2021, in keeping with a steady rise since 2017. This measure of life evaluation combines how people feel about their current situation and how they expect to feel in five years. Those who are thriving report significantly fewer health problems, fewer negative emotions, and more hope, happiness, and energy in their lives.

In 2021, the regions with most thriving employees, Australia/New Zealand and U.S./Canada, saw the greatest increases in thriving as well. In contrast, Europe and South Asia saw significant drops in employees who felt they were thriving. Both regions decreased by 5 percentage points, and South Asia has the lowest percent of those who feel they’re thriving in the world at 11 percent.

“With a massive increase in the work-life blend through more fully remote or hybrid work, there is no more important time for managers to be in regular, meaningful conversations with employees about their work and life,” says Harter. “The importance of the role of manager just went up another notch.”

About The Author
julieKeller_author-1

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures, ForbesTraveler.com, E! Online, Gayot.com, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.