American Workplace Study Finds Most Workers Lack Engagement with Their Jobs

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pie chart As revealed by Gallup’s recent State of the American Workplace study, 70 percent of U.S. workers are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” with their work. Gallup further estimates that actively disengaged workers cost the economy between $450 and $550 billion per year in productivity loss. Such employees are also more likely to steal, be a negative influence on coworkers, be absent, and run off customers.

The survey named “bosses from hell” as the primary culprits in driving high disengagement and lack of engagement. On a positive note, there were more engaged workers reporting in this year’s survey (covering 2010 to 2012) than in the previous survey in 2010, though only by 2 percent. The survey also found that engaged employees developed the most innovative ideas, were the most entrepreneurial, and created most new customers. Engaged employees also had 50 percent fewer accidents, 41 percent fewer quality defects, and spend much less on healthcare.

Generation was also found to play a large role in engagement. The report found that employees beginning their careers and those who are ending them are typically more engaged than those in the middle. Generation Y employees were most likely to report the desire to leave their job within the next year and women reported marginally higher engagement than men.

“The general consciousness about the importance of employee engagement seems to have increased in the past decade,” said Jim Harter, Gallup’s chief scientist of workplace management and wellbeing. “But there is a gap between knowing about engagement and doing something about it in most American workplaces.”

Suggestions given by the study for boosting engagement include: choosing good managers; making employee engagement a day-to-day conversation; creating team engagement; and connecting with each employee through becoming familiar with individual talents, strengths, and weaknesses.


By Joshua Bjerke