Survey Finds Only 28% of Workers Actively Engaged at Work
by Barbara Bartlein, The People Pro
A recent Gallup Q12 survey designed to measure employee engagement
demonstrates that only 28% of American workers are actively engaged at
work. The semi-annual employee engagement index by Gallup also revealed
that 54% of employees are not engaged and 17% are actively disengaged.
The Q12 index consists of 12 questions that measure key expectations
that employees have of their employment. Rated on a five point scale,
questions include “Do you know what is expected of you at work?” “At
work, do your opinions seem to count?” and “Do you have a best friend
at work?” Researchers have found that when the 12 key expectations are
satisfied, there is a strong foundation of feelings of engagement.
Since 1997, Gallup has studied the responses of approximately 3 million
employees that have participated in the survey.
The engagement index identifies the three categories of workers with the following definitions:
• Engaged (28%). These employees are enthusiastic, committed, and
work with passion. They are naturally curious about their company and
feel a profound connection to the mission. They perform at consistently
high levels and want to use their talents and strengths every day. They
drive innovation and move the organization forward.
• Not-Engaged (54%). These employees have essentially “checked out.”
They are sleepwalking through their workday. They aren’t necessarily
negative or positive about their employer. They tend to take a
“wait-and-see” attitude towards the job and their co-workers. They put
in their time, have reasonable productivity but are not putting energy
or passion into the job.
• Actively Disengaged (17%). These employees are the “energy
suckers.” They aren’t just unhappy with the job; they are busy acting
out their unhappiness. They let everyone else know how miserable they
are and undermine what their engaged co-workers accomplish.
When employees join an organization, they are usually highly
engaged. But often, the first year on the job is their best. Research
by the Gallup Organization reveals that the longer an employee stays
with a company, the less engaged he or she becomes. That drop in
engagement costs business big money with lost sales, lower customer
satisfaction and reduced productivity. It is estimated that actively
disengaged employees cost the American economy up to $350 billion per
year in lost productivity.
One of the primary causes of employee disengagement is managers who
give more attention to “problem” employees than the employees who are
engaged everyday. The workers who are actively doing their job, setting
goals, meeting and exceeding expectations are often overlooked. The
manager may be spending most of her time disciplining the poor
performers or coaching problem employees. Great managers spend the
majority of their time with their most productive and talented
employees. They recognize these workers as having the most commitment
and potential. They know that if they spend time coaching a poor
performer to an average performer, they still only get an average
worker. If they work with their best employees, a team is created of
above average performers.
Some of the signs and symptoms that an employee is becoming disengaged include:
• A change in the relationship between employee and manager. The
employee may no longer feel the connection or does not believe that the
manager understands them.
• The employee feels that their potential is being wasted. He does
not feel that his talents are really being used on the job. She may see
no future opportunities for growth or advancement.
When managers see the first symptoms that an engaged employee is
moving towards the “not engaged” category, they should act immediately.
Some techniques to keep your employees actively engaged:
• Build strong relationships between manager and worker. The manager
must clearly communicate expectations, roles and responsibilities.
Employees work best when they have clarity on the business and what
they need to contribute on a daily basis.
• Communicate, communicate, communicate. Share the strategic plan,
the key performance indicators, and financial performance. Every
employee should know what their role is in creating the success of the
company. They should see themselves as stockholders, not just
collecting a paycheck.
• Make sure the employee has the equipment and information to get
the job done. It is the manager’s job to “clear the way” for the worker
to concentrate on what they do best. An effective manager helps
employees build their skill set through additional training and
• Build teamwork. Promote friendships at work and activities outside
of work. These can include company sponsored events such as parties,
award dinners, etc as well as informal gatherings like a softball team.
Engaged workers are connected to their co-workers and look forward to
coming to work.
Build engagement at your organization and remember, it only takes one bad apple to spoil the whole bushel.
FREE E-mail newsletter, sign on at www.ThePeoplePro.com. Barbara
Bartlein, is The People Pro, and President of Great Lakes Consulting
Group, LLC, which helps companies sell more goods and services by
developing people. She can be reached at 888-747-9953, by e-mail at:
email@example.com or visit her website at www.ThePeoplePro.com
Barbara Bartlein, The People Pro may be contacted at www.ThePeoplePro.com or barb@thePeoplePro.com