Only 6% of employees in China ‘engaged’ in their work, less than half the average of 13% in other countries

Only 6% of employees in China ‘engaged’ in their work: poll

Staff Reporter


Only 6% of people in China’s workforce are fully engaged in their jobs, less than half the average of 13% in other countries, according to a Gallup poll which surveyed 142 countries and regions between 2011 and 2012. The company asked employees to answer 12 questions including whether they learned new things on the job, whether their efforts were recognized and whether they made friends in the workplace. The employees were divided into three categories: “actively disengaged, “not engaged” and “engaged.” The report suggests engaged employees will bring benefits and innovation to their companies but their efforts could be sabotaged by those that are actively disengaged.On average, 63% of employees surveyed were “not engaged” in their jobs while the remaining 24% were “actively disengaged.” The level of engagement varied significantly according to region, and China and Hong Kong had the lowest level of motivated employees at 6%. The report suggests the figure dragged down the overall engagement level in East Asia.

The report said the deeply rooted culture of deference in Asia might be the main cause of the low degree of engagement as employees are generally not encouraged to show initiative. The levels in South Korea, Taiwan and Japan were also below the global average at 11%, 9% and 7%, respectively.

The level was highest in Panama, Costa Rica and the United States at 37%, 33% and 30%, respectively.

The average level in Western Europe was not high, at 14%, reflecting the severe employment crisis affecting the region.

The proportion of actively disengaged staff was highest in Tunisia at 54%, Algeria at 53% and Syria at 45%.

Education levels of education and the type of work have little influences on employee’s level of engagement in China, the survey found. Only 7% of workers with a university degree and 5% of employees with a high school diploma were “engaged” at their jobs. The percentage was slightly higher among highly skilled workers at 8% and managers but the figure dropped to 4% among retail and service sector workers and the lowest of all at 3% among secretaries and office workers.

The report said Chinese managers tend to employ a “command-and-control” style with their staff instead of engaging with and developing them. Only one in eight employees in China felt their opinions carried any weight with their bosses, far lower than the overall average of one quarter.

The results of the report stand in sharp contrast to the traditional image of employees in Asia as hard-working and dedicated. Wei Shujuan, an assistant professor in philosophy and sociology School at Lanzhou University in northwestern China said working hard is not the same as being engaged. People seldomengage with their jobs if they considered them only as a necessary source of income. Members of China’s middle class usually choose the job with the highest salary instead of taking work that interests them or at places where they feel a sense of belonging, Wei said.

The low level of engagement can also be attributed to the fact that population pressure often creates tremendous employment pressure in Asian countries and regions. People may have little choice as to the job they do and therefore have little sense of belonging and engagement, said Fang Changchun, an assistant sociology professor at Nanjing University.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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