I’m Engaged. You’re Engaged. Not.

It’s official: we don’t care.

According to the latest results from Gallup’s employee engagement index, half of U.S. employees admit they’re disengaged at work. Not all the time, but often enough to know it consciously and be willing to say so in a telephone interview.

That’s bad enough, but here’s what it breeds: 18% of those surveyed are “actively disengaged.” That means they are actually working against their company’s values and culture, while taking a paycheck and benefits from it.

Kind of like a double-dip, only with a dagger instead of a spoon.

A total optimist might point to the other end of the spectrum, where 30% of employees report being engaged at work, or even inspired. Good luck with that. When you can’t get even a third of your people to buy in to the mission, the mission is in deep trouble.

The Gallup index is based on employee responses regarding a dozen different indicators that matter to workers, and that correlate strongly with how people actually perform. They include profit and productivity, but also things like safety, quality, and employee turnover.

In other words, employees are responding emotionally to what they see around them. And what they see is not lighting them up. They’re not getting what they need from their culture and their management, and nearly one in five is acting out in a bad way.

No doubt many employers are saying to themselves – and their boards of directors – “That’s not our company. Our workers are solid!” This approach pretty much ensures that the situation will not change. In fact, it’s likely to get worse as Boomers retire and more skeptical Gen Xers and Millennials take their places.

(I know, it feels like that’s going to take forever, but it will happen.)

Gallup just published a new “State of the American Workplace” report, packed with three years of survey data. We can hope that it’s getting a close look in C-suites across the land. Or we can just go back to surfing the Internet while the boss is out at a meeting …

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Comments (1)

  1. Employee engagement is one of the hottest topics in the executive suite these days, and for good reason. There is a war being waged for talent, and if you aren’t doing all you can to build an enduring relationship with your workforce, your most productive and gifted employees may set off in search of greener pastures.
    The problem is that the rules are changing faster than companies can adapt. Rodd Wagner (author, thought leader on employee engagement) published “The New Rules of Employee Engagement” in 2013. They might shock some folks. You can grab a copy of them at http://www.biworldwide.com.
    The generational migration is in full swing. You see it everywhere. Not just in the hip, cool agencies and hi tech companies, but across all industries and verticals. It takes a lot to attract and retain talent. Come visit my series “I’m Not Married To The Company, But I Am Engaged…” at http://www.ideationz.me.
    The worst thing you can do is sit idly by, and hope that this, too, shall pass. Compacency is the early stage of irrelevance (thanks to Darrin Nelson of Sirius for that great line).

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