Leadership

Gallup: 70 Percent of U.S. Workers Are Disengaged

By / Jun 13, 2013 (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

The findings of a recent Gallup survey point to trouble for employers, as a significant majority of workers say they lack enthusiasm for their jobs. Could weak leadership be the cause?

Seven in 10 American workers are “not engaged” or are “actively disengaged” in their jobs, are “emotionally disconnected” from their workplaces, and are “less likely to be productive,” according to Gallup’s recently released study, “State of the American Workplace.”

The study defines “engaged” workers as employees “who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and contribute to their organization in a positive manner.” Gallup posits that a lack of quality managers is a major contributing factor to rampant worker disengagement, which it estimates is costing the U.S. economy $450 billion to $550 billion per year.

“When leaders in the United States of America—or any country for that matter—wake up one morning and say collectively, ‘Let’s get rid of managers from hell, double the number of great managers and engaged employees, and have those managers lead based on what actually matters,’ everything will change,” said Jim Clifton, Gallup’s chairman and CEO. “The country’s employees will be twice as effective, they’ll create far more customers, companies will grow, spiraling healthcare costs will decrease, and desperately needed GDP will boom like never before.”

Meanwhile, 36 percent of managers and executives surveyed were engaged in 2012, up 10 percentage points from 2009.

Some other highlights from the study include:

  • 52 percent of workers surveyed said they are not engaged, while another 18 percent said they are actively disengaged in their work.
  • Only 22 percent of U.S. employees claimed to be “engaged and thriving.”
  • There are slight differences by gender. Among women, 33 percent of workers said they were engaged, 50 percent were not engaged, and 17 percent were actively disengaged. By comparison, 28 percent of male workers said they were engaged, 53 percent were not engaged, and 19 percent were actively disengaged.
  • More remote workers (32 percent) said they were engaged than did employees who work onsite (28 percent). Among remote workers, those who spend less than 20 percent of their time working remotely are the most engaged (35 percent) and had the lowest active disengagement (12 percent).
  • Organizations with an average of 9.3 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee in 2010-2011 experienced 147 percent higher earnings per share compared with their competition in 2011-2012.
  • Millennials are most likely of all generations to say they will leave their jobs in the next 12 months if the job market improves.
  • Employees with a college degree are not as likely as those with less education to report having a positive, engaging workplace experience.
  • Only 41 percent of employees said they know what their company stands for and what makes its brand different from competitors’ brands.

Daniel Ford

Daniel Ford is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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