An industry dive into the EMC Index

October 25, 2023

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In our latest issue of Today at Work, the ADP Research Institute introduced the Employee Motivation and Commitment Index, a tool to help define optimal functioning for employees and specific roles within an organization. The score measures how employees feel about their place at work and whether they’re thriving and growing.

The items used to build the EMC Index come from our monthly sentiment survey of 2,500 working adults in the United States. A survey respondent who answers many of the questions positively is categorized as high MC; one who answers more negatively is categorized as reduced MC. 

We also ask respondents to identify the industry they work in, using the following question: 

In which industry are you currently employed for your primary work? 

  • Construction and related trades (contractors, project managers, etc.)
  • Education (primary, secondary, higher education, technical, daycare)
  • Health care (in and outpatient, health care professionals)
  • Health care support (family services/patient advocacy, pharmaceuticals, medical devices)
  • Finance (banking, insurance, exchanges, brokerages)
  • Real estate (including rentals, leasing, etc.)
  • Information (publishing, radio, television, telecommunications, motion pictures, data processing, hosting, and related services)
  • Leisure & hospitality (accommodations/hotels, restaurants/food services, amusement or cultural sites [parks, camps, casinos, museums, historic, sports], artists/athletes or agents/managers)
  • Manufacturing (apparel, beverage, chemical, machinery, textiles, wood, paper, etc.)
  • Professional services (advertising/public relations, consulting, business/travel/facilities services, legal, accounting, architectural, engineering, computer systems design, research/scientific/technical services)
  • Trade (retail or wholesale apparel, home/furnishings, home improvement, automotive, office supplies/equipment, electronics/appliances, etc.)
  • Technology (including information, ICT, development, administration, support, robotics, data security, automation, AI, applications, devices, e-commerce, database management, operations, etc.)
  • Transportation & warehousing (air/rail/water, courier, storage, etc.)
  • Food service (servers, cooking staff, delivery drivers, waiters)
  • App-based task employment (Uber, Lyft, Door Dash, Shipt, Task Rabbit, etc.)*
  • Other industry 

* Not included in the analyses below, due to low response rate.

Our data showed meaningful variability in the share of highly motivated and committed employees (high MC) across industries. We delved into the data to learn more about these differences.

Sorting ADPRI data by demographics revealed an interesting story that goes beyond industry differences. When it comes to motivation and commitment, we found variability related to gender, type of work, and age.

An initial analysis showed that, overall, men scored higher than women on motivation and commitment, particularly during prime working ages.

If we look at gender by industry, we can see where these differences are most pronounced. We found that women have an edge in motivation and commitment in three of the industries we track: food service, trade, and transportation & warehousing.

We also found a second demographic that showed high variability by industry – the type of work one does.

Traditionally, workers have been sorted into two buckets: knowledge workers and cycle workers. But we think there’s now a third category that falls somewhere in the middle: the skilled task worker.

In our monthly sentiment survey, respondents are asked to describe their type of work by choosing from three options:

  • I have a level of freedom to use my expertise to create something new. (Our definition of ‘knowledge worker’.)
  • I use a level of expertise to solve similar problems each day. (Our definition of ‘skilled task worker’.)
  • I do similar repetitive tasks each day. (Our definition of ‘cycle worker’.)

In every industry, our data revealed stark MC differences between knowledge workers and everyone else. When we layered gender into the mix, we found even more variability.

These differences lead us to believe that the type of work done within industries makes a big difference in motivation and commitment. We’ll continue to research the wide variety of factors that might be contributing to dynamics within work type.

Another demographic that showed high MC variability was age. Aside from the Information and Technology sectors, where employees aged 40 to 54 are most likely to have high motivation and commitment, motivation and commitment generally decreases as workers age.

While it might seem natural that a person’s motivation and commitment ebbs as they consider retirement or the next step in their professional lives, this decreasing MC also could be a sign that organizations are missing the mark for these workers. By providing the right opportunities to share knowledge and experience, mentor younger employees, or continue to do meaningful work, older employees might be nudged to higher levels of motivation and commitment.

Stay tuned to ADPRI’s Data Lab as we continue to investigate trends within our Employee Motivation and Commitment Index and provide insights to support the world of work.