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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How America, Inc. Can Rise Again

One way to look at America is as one big company with about 100 million full-time employees and sales (GDP) of about $15 trillion. So that is America, Inc. -- a huge enterprise that competes with the rest of the world for the best customers and the best jobs. When this workplace is juiced and its employees inspired, only good things happen because thrilled employees create more customers worldwide.

The problem is that only about 30 million, or 30%, in America, Inc.’s workforce are engaged. Another 50 million or so, about half, are not engaged -- they’re just showing up. The remaining roughly 20 million, or 20%, are actively disengaged: These are super-negative employees who not only bring their lousy attitudes to work, but wander the halls spreading them around.

Now, just imagine how strong America, Inc. could become if its managers everywhere worked to double the number of engaged employees, from 30 million to 60 million. This would double the productivity of America, Inc. The enterprise would create new customers all around the world. The national economy would not only recover, but boom. Hiring would explode everywhere. America, Inc. would return as a corporate colossus.

But to significantly boost engagement of America, Inc.’s employees, its managers at all levels must understand what’s happening with the 30 million engaged employees that isn’t happening with the remaining 70 million. Simply put, the 30 million probably have great jobs, where the others maybe have good jobs or OK jobs.

What makes a job great? My answer may surprise you. The 30 million aren’t necessarily making more money than the rest. In fact, after $75,000 in annual income, researchers don’t find that happiness increases as income does. Bluntly, it’s not about money.

No, what differentiates a great job from a mere good one is when a worker answers yes to two questions that Gallup has asked of millions of people around the world. The first is: “Is there someone at work who encourages my development?” The second is: “At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?” -- or, put another way -- do you get to use your strengths at work daily?

If employers make it so that twice as many employees can answer a strong yes to those two questions, America, Inc. will not only rise up again, but it will re-win the world economy.


Anonymous said...
October 31, 2012 at 11:46 AM  

Ok, so, there are two distinct entities. One is American Government, Inc. Another one is My Company, Inc. The first one was supposed to provide to me some services, and insurance, aka welfare. It ended up using up all of my money recklessly, waging wars I didn't want, giving away money to friends, aka "bailout". And, it went into debt, that is now increasing exponentially. My Company, Inc. used to be a wonderful company, that provided great services cheaply. I am happy working for them. But then, American Government, Inc. came. They told us to give 50% of our income to them, to wage their wars. They told us they would put us to jail if we don't share. They invented bizzare rules they call "laws", and they try to "regulate" us, despite failing to regulate their own spending. I want these guys to be crushed by their own debt. Nothing can save them, at this point. Their debt is not my debt.

Wesley Pereira said...
November 6, 2012 at 8:35 AM  

Hi Jim,

I really like the way you have explained the whole "America, Inc. and its employees. I totally agree with increased employee engagement and development.
It is too often that we notice that an employee's skills are not put to the best of use simply because the employee is not recognised by his superiors for what he can do best but more for what the job description/job profile is.
I do believe that recognising your employees for what they are good at and allocating tasks to them according to their strengths will not only allow them to deliver to the best of their ability but also increase their bond with the firm.

Sarah Robinson said...
November 8, 2012 at 5:16 PM  

Jim, I wholeheartedly agree with your thoughts presented here. As Americans, we see a lack of employee engagement everywhere we go, whether it be the customer service representative who seems displeased by our request or the colleague who checks his phone during a team meeting. Disengagement in the workplace is rampant.

Not only does disengagement lead to reduced productivity in the workplace, but it also breeds apathy, or worse - negativity, in our personal lives. What will it take to persuade employers and employees that focusing on engagement at work will lead to increased profits, reduced absenteeism, and greater life satisfaction for all?

Gregory Bogosian said...
November 9, 2012 at 11:49 PM  

Mr. Clifton, you may be correct about the benefits of employee engagement. But putting all of your faith in one approach to attacking the complex problem of sustaining economic growth will probably not be rewarded. You cannot focus exclusively on increasing engagement and ignore our nation's massive sovereign debt, the rampant obesity and other health problems, or the rising oceans and other environmental damage.

Anonymous said...
January 4, 2013 at 5:53 PM  

In Light of your recent book, I'd be interested in your thoughts on this piece: " The Post-Productive Economy",

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