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Article: Survey Finds Only 28% of Workers Actively Engaged at Work Related Resources
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 challenges.

• 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 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: or visit her website at

Barbara Bartlein, The People Pro may be contacted at or

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