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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Failing Global Workplace

Just about anything good that happens to a company, or a country, comes from engaged employees -- and there are pitifully few of them around the globe. Engaged employees are committed to their work and their employers. Most importantly, they create the best customers, which drives growth in all of the millions of businesses big and small.

Here’s the problem: Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report, conducted in 142 countries, finds that only 13% of employees worldwide are truly engaged in their jobs. The report couldn’t be more alarming -- nor a worse report card for global workplace leadership. It calls into question the very practice of management.

And the report has more bad news: 63% of employees worldwide are not engaged in their jobs. They don’t hate their jobs, and aren’t necessarily negative --- they’re just there. And an additional 24% are actively disengaged -- they’re not only negative and miserable, but they come to work and spread their misery up and down the halls. Our report says that active disengagement is an immense drain on entire economies, even highly developed ones. Gallup estimates that active disengagement costs the U.S. alone more than half a trillion dollars per year.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

One of Gallup’s biggest findings ever has been that the success or failure of an enterprise is primarily determined by whom you name manager. If millions of businesses around the globe started to name the right people manager tomorrow, and ensured that those managers encouraged employees’ development and focused on their strengths, engagement worldwide would skyrocket.

Just imagine if the percentage of engaged employees doubled to 26%. Think of the huge economic gains that would follow. I firmly believe that if we doubled engagement around the globe in the next five years, human conditions would improve far more from that effort than from any humanitarian aid, diplomatic initiatives, or military interventions.

Nothing would change the world -- and make it safer and more prosperous -- than having twice as many employees achieve the great dream of all of the world’s citizens: to have a good job. Not just a job. Not just mere satisfaction in a job. But a job where a person feels an important sense of mission or purpose -- that what they do has meaning, so that their life matters.

If you don’t fully appreciate the power of good jobs, or their impact on global prosperity and peace, think back a couple of years. When Tunisian food vendor Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire after the government took his food cart -- his very livelihood -- thus igniting the Arab Spring, did he yell "Death to America" or "Allahu akbar”? Neither. He cried out, “I just want to work!”

Gallup can help you find the best managers.
Learn more here.


Bert Spangenberg said...
November 21, 2013 at 3:15 AM  

Then why not turn things around? Start with peoples' intrinsic motivations, and build enterprise on engaged participants.

Anonymous said...
December 11, 2013 at 12:15 PM  

Interesting article. Totally agree with you. I have seen a big change after the recession. Nowadays upper management is focused on how to make more money and they don't see the consequences of having a team not commited / engaged. At the end of the day the cost will be higher. It's affect productivity highly, more people calling in sick and not able to go the exrta mile. The new policy :" Do more with less" has some tricky corners and at some point it will show the consequences.

Anonymous said...
December 12, 2013 at 5:05 PM  

I have noticed a trend during the last 8 years. The hiring of incompetence into management roles is beyond prolific in the United States. Anyone and everyone who sings the song and dances the dance is hired into a management position. Highly unqualified, yet they get hired into a management role. To top it all off, they consider themselves leaders. Everyone now considers themselves a leader even tough they can't lead a drowning man to shore. Worst is the fact that these incompetents are given the power and authority to squash the good employees and reward the mediocre. That is half the root of disengagement. The other, well, when I see my company trimming salaries yet wasting billions in dividends how do you think that makes me feel as an employee? I am not working for Wall Street and I most certainly do not get out of bed to chase an ever shrinking carrot to provide an investor with ever increasing dividends.

Ron Schulingkamp said...
December 14, 2013 at 6:38 PM  

The root cause of the lack of employee engagement is poor leadership. There is a multitude of reasons for poor leadership, but this is nothing new. W. Edwards Deming identified poor leadership are the major problem with U.S. companies decades ago. Over the past 50 years, hundreds of research papers and textbooks have supported Deming’s assertion. Most U.S. companies have suffered from poor leadership for decades if not the past century. Most leaders see the workforce as an item on the Income Statement called “payroll expenses” not as assets that create value for the customer and stakeholders. Sure executives like to adopt the latest fads so “human resources” in now “human capital management,” which sounds important but the support to create a high performing, engaged workforce is still absent.

The good news there are U.S. companies with workforce engagements ranges from 70% to 80%. During the Great Recession, the leaders of these companies retained their workforce, increased their production capabilities, and some increased the size of their workforce. These companies are now taking advantage of their long-term strategy and are more profitable than ever.

Of course, this was not “magic” but instead was the result of years of discipline strategy development and execution to create high performing companies over the long-term. More information on these companies can be found at The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce Baldrige Program web site

Laurianne said...
February 27, 2014 at 5:20 AM  

There was a time when being a manager in a company was a brilliant leadership role, when you were trusted to translate services from the higher ups to the lower downs.

Now middle management seems stale, their reputation has been damaged by negative press and a few bad eggs.

I can't believe that as little as 13% are engaged in their jobs, that's disgraceful. Businesses should surely appreciate the value of a happy workforce, especially when the number of actively disengaged employees almost double the number of engaged ones!

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