Chinese worker engagement is important and hard to attain. However, in a culture where most families are not very warm, the value of giving the worker a sense of home should not be overlooked. Gallup put up a post showing that East Asia has the lowest worker engagement in the world by a wide margin. That is no surprise to any of us who know China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. Take a look at the Gallup article here.
In East Asia, only 6% of workers are engaged and 68% are not engaged and 26% are actively disengaged. This is similar to my experience in Western enterprises in China. I have often said that in a 10 person leadership team, I commonly find two people who are working for the company. 5 people are collecting a pay check, and 3 people are actively against positive culture in the enterprise. Upping our hit rate on good workers and lowering our number of actively disengaged workers is critical to the success of our enterprises here in China.
You might want to look at a previous post of mine if you have not already. Chinese Workers and Trust: How You Need to Adjust Your Thinking. It mentions the lack of trust workers have as one factor to take note of.
Chinese Worker Engagement is Deeply Affected by their Primary Supervisor
Now, the main problem with worker engagement world wide and in China is the quality of worker direct reports. Every time we place a leader in a Western Business in China, we know we are improving engagement for the whole enterprise. Whenever we help companies know who to fire, we increase engagement yet again. Those three actively disengaged people are much more damaging than we might think. They will pull the other 5 neutral people with them as people naturally have a bend toward the bad side. Creating positive lift is hard. However, increasing the percentage of quality hires is very valuable to the bottom line of any enterprise in China. A culture can be moved by consistently placing quality hires. We know as we do it for our customers. It is fun to see engagement start to appear in a once common factory. Quality, innovation, and on time delivery of goods and services follow apace.