A new survey has found that UK workers are slipping down the employee engagement ranking table despite companies working hard to improve their wellbeing.

More than 7,000 employees across 20 countries were questioned as part of the Global Perspectives survey and the UK was put in 18th place with Japan and Hong Kong the only two countries with lower engagement.

Although over a third (37%) of workers felt that they were encouraged to be innovative, this figure was accounted for almost half of workers (47%) just last year.

A mixed workforce

Overall, the wellbeing index was a mixed bag of results as although the UK slid by 4% compared to 2013, it was still ahead of other countries in Western Europe.

Kate Pritchard, head of employee research at ORC International, said:

“Encouraging innovative ideas, creative thinking and providing an environment where employees feel that managers act in their best interest are just some aspects to improving engagement, which ultimately have a positive effect on overall business outcomes and client satisfaction.”

However, Cary Cooper, a professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University, said that while engagement is an important factor, it should be incorporated into a wider wellbeing agenda.

Cooper said that employers in the UK have worked harder than any other country to improve employee engagement, so it could be that there is a focus in the wrong areas.

“It’s just that they are too focussed on engagement as an end in itself without looking at the wider wellbeing issue,” he said.

He suggested trialling other models, such as share ownership employed by John Lewis, as it has helped employees feel valued.

Targeting new recruits

Another suggestion to help the UK climb back up the rankings is for HR professionals to guide young jobseekers into employment.

Katerina Rüdiger, head of skills and policy campaigns at CIPD, said:

“One way to bridge that gap is to encourage those working in HR, who hold responsibility for the recruitment of new staff, to partner up with young jobseekers to help enlighten them about what employers look for.”