GALLUP Research: Employee Engagement

An engaged employee is someone who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about, their work.  In his book, Getting Engaged: The New Workplace Loyalty, Tim Rutledge explains that truly engaged employees are attracted to, and inspired by, the work they do (“I want to do this”); they are committed (“I am dedicated to the success of what I am doing”); and they are challenged and fascinated by the job (“I love what I am doing”). Rutledge urges managers to implement strong retention plans so that they may hold onto top talent.  

Today, there is consensus among most academics and practitioners that engaged employees are those who are both emotionally connected to the organization, as well as committed to it’s success.  Engaged employees care about the future of the organization and are willing to invest discretionary effort – exceeding duty’s call – to see that the organization succeeds.

We believe that leaders must pay close attention to the level of employee engagement in the workplace.  In 2013, Gallup published their annual State of the Global Workplace report and found that about 1 in 8 of the roughly 180 million employees surveyed in 142 countries, or 23.4 million (13%), are actually engaged at work. 

Although those numbers are actually up 2 points from the previous study the picture is still quite grim when you consider that Gallup found, “the bulk of employees worldwide -- 63% -- are "not engaged," meaning they lack motivation and are less likely to invest discretionary effort in organizational goals or outcomes. And 24% are "actively disengaged," indicating they are unhappy and unproductive at work and liable to spread negativity to coworkers.” Gallup warns that these statistics mean a blow to worldwide economic productivity and quality of life.  

In the United States, only 29 percent of employees are “engaged.”  That’s less than one-third of U.S. workers who are passionate about their work and care enough about the company to behave, participate, collaborate, and connect in ways that result in positive outcomes for their organization.    

On the other side of the spectrum, 17 percent, of U.S. workers are “actively disengaged.” These extremely dissatisfied folks are overtly undermining the strategies and practices of their organization, while at the same time actively recruiting anyone who will listen.    

Yet, the largest number of U.S. workers surveyed, some 54 percent, classified as “not engaged,” are also the most promising lot. Although perceived by many to be checked out, the sheer number presents the greatest opportunity for managers to critically examine individual potential and work to move these employees up to the ranks of “engaged.”  

When you consider these statistics, a manager’s greatest opportunity exists in building a High Performance Culture to both influence employee engagement and positively affect retention. Gallup advises, “business leaders worldwide must raise the bar on employee engagement. Increasing workplace engagement is vital to achieving sustainable growth for companies, communities, and countries.”