After years of declining employee engagement levels around the world, a new analysis released this week by Aon Hewitt showed a positive global shift in employee engagement -- or emotional and intellectual involvement in the workplace.

Aon Hewitt's 2012 Global Engagement report, which analyzed employee engagement trends of more than 3,100 organizations representing 9.7 million employees worldwide, found that 58% of employees were engaged in 2011, up from 56% from 2010.

The analysis showed improvements in employee perception scores in three key areas in 2011:

1. Effective leadership at the business unit/division level was 61%, up from 54% in 2010.

2. People/HR practices creating a positive work environment was 53%, up from 47% 2010.

3. Perceiving relationships with customers as rewarding was 75%, up from 70% in 2010. 

"Business leadership as well as HR programs that meet the needs of specific employee segments contributed to the uptick in engagement levels," says Pete Sanborn, co-president of global compensation and talent at Aon Hewitt. "However, with one out of every four people not engaged worldwide, more needs to be done. As the economy improves, retaining top talent is going to be difficult."

Aon Hewitt's report also analyzed which engagement drivers had the most positive impact on engagement and opportunity for improvement. According to the analysis, organizations are likely to get the highest return on investment in employee engagement if they focus on improving career opportunities. For the fourth consecutive year career opportunities remained the top driver to positively impact overall engagement levels.

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