A whopping 70 percent of U.S. workers say they are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” with their work, according to Gallup’s recently released annual State of the American Workplace study on employee engagement. That leaves just 30 percent of the workforce who claim their job inspires them enough to engage.
What’s worse is Gallup's estimates that those actively disengaged workers cost the country between $450 billion to $550 billion each year in lost productivity. They are more likely to steal from the organization, negatively influence co-workers, call in sick and drive customers away.
In the report, which covers the workplace from 2010-12, Jim Clifton, Gallup chairman and CEO, blamed “bosses from hell” for the lackluster number of engaged workers and those who are actively “miserable and roam the halls spreading discontent.”
On the bright side, there are more engaged workers since Gallup’s last survey in 2010, if only 2 percentage points more.
Clifton also said that the most engaged workers “come up with most of the innovative ideas, create most of a company’s new customers and have the most entrepreneurial energy.” He also said the survey revealed other benefits to organizations with an engaged workforce: They have nearly 50 percent fewer accidents, 41 percent fewer quality defects and spend far less on healthcare costs.
According to the Gallup report, organizations with an average of 9.3 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee in 2010-11 experienced 147 percent higher earnings per share compared with their competition in 2011-12.
To compare, Gallup says those with an average of 2.6 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee experienced 2 percent lower EPS compared with their competition during the same time period.
Engagement also differs by generation. The Gallup report showed that employees at the beginning of their careers and those approaching the end are more likely to be engaged than those in the middle. Millennials, or Generation Y, are the most likely to say they will leave their jobs in the next year if the job market improves. Women also have slightly higher engagement than men, according to the Gallup report.
"The general consciousness about the importance of employee engagement seems to have increased in the past decade," said Jim Harter, Gallup's chief scientist, workplace management and wellbeing. "But there is a gap between knowing about engagement and doing something about it in most American workplaces."
Ways businesses can boost their engagement according to Gallup include:
- Choosing good managers;
- making employee engagement a day-to-day conversation rather than a long-range initiative and discuss progress regularly;
- creating team engagement, rather than relying on individual initiatives, particularly in larger organizations;
- finding ways to connect with each employee. Managers should familiarize themselves with individual talents, strengths and weaknesses and work with employees to improve and inspire.