Are you part of the happy 13 percent?
Gallup, a research and consultancy company from Washington D.C., polled workers across the world and found that only 13% of employees are actually engaged in their work, meaning they are enthusiastic about their job and therefore add value, innovation, and progress to their companies.
The study, which is based on data collected in 2011 and 2012, differentiates between three levels of employee engagement: employees who are “engaged”, those who are “not engaged”, and those who take part in active sabotage because they’re dissatisfied (“actively disengaged”).
Study results worldwide
In general, results suggest that engagement levels vary greatly across the globe. The data collected in China points to generally low levels of engagement (only 6%) whereas in Australia and New Zeeland 24% are engaged, over half (60%) are not and 16% are actively “disengaged”, meaning that they are extremely dispassionate and thereby possibly hindering not only the company and their colleagues but also themselves. Similar to the situation in the USA and Canada, the proportion of engaged and dispassionate employees in Australia is equally high. There is almost the same number of engaged employees as there is unmotivated ones. Such figures are clearly devastating from a business point of view and can substantially reduce productivity and innovation levels in any national economy.
Study results in the UK
Despite the financial crisis percentages have not varied greatly over the past years and if anything are more positive than the global average or of all the largest European economies. According to the Gallup study, 17% of employees in the UK are engaged, 57% are not engaged and 26% are actively disengaged. One could assume that the crisis has yet to hit engaged employees.
However, there may be various ways to interpret results. During uncertain economic times employees may be reluctant to seek a new job where levels of engagement would rise, and prefer job security over a new opportunity. This could explain why percentages did not trend positively. Employees may have also lowered their expectations or successful companies may have continued with their strategies to engage employees just as before the crisis began. What remains disturbing is that more than half of the working population is disengaged and a quarter is so unhappy, that their negative attitude surely rubs off on many colleagues.
- In general, employees with degrees appear to be more engaged than those with only basic school-level qualifications
- Interestingly, the number of engaged employees in each country is usually more or less equal to the number of actively disengaged employees.
That’s how things stand, what happens now?
How should we interpret these figures? Some aspects of employee satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) are governed by politics and therefore harder to change, whereas others can be tackled by the companies themselves. In our opinion, there is one matter that should always be upheld above all else: motivated and happy employees do a better job.
Fortunately the “State of the Global Workplace” study also offers solutions, namely the following:
- Select the right person for the job
- Develop the strengths and the potential of employees
- Enhance the well-being of employees
What in theory may sound relatively simple is surely much more difficult to implement.
The complete report on the study can be downloaded for free from the Gallup website.