Survey Says…U.S. Businesses Fail at Employee Engagement

BoringI usually take the results of public opinion surveys with a grain of salt. Polls can be skewed in any number of ways — how the questions are worded, who’s asked to participate, when the surveys are taken and more. Healthy skepticism is an essential skill for today’s information consumer.

But one recent survey about employee engagement had me reaching for the entire salt shaker, because the results are so astonishingly bad for U.S. companies.

Gallup, one of the world’s oldest and most respected polling firms, has just released its 2013 State of the American Workplace survey. If the results are anywhere near accurate, U.S. organizations are doing a terrible job of keeping employees enthusiastic about their mission. In a nutshell:

  • Only 30 percent of all employees are engaged and inspired at work
  • Fully 20 percent are actively disengaged and spreading discontent
  • The remaining 50 percent are merely showing up, unmotivated by their work or their managers

Let’s look at that again: 70 percent of the American workforce isn’t reaching its full potential.

Imagine what that’s doing to organizational performance and the economy at large. Bad things. Very bad things. Gallup’s research shows it costs as much as $550 billion a year in productivity.

Now think about your own company. If your employees are at all indicative of the survey results, how is that affecting your bottom line? And it won’t miraculously get better on its own, either. Gallup’s research also shows employee engagement remains flat unless it’s managed appropriately.

So let’s dream a little. What would happen if your company increased the number of excellent leaders and engaged employees on its roster?

Gallup says the “engaged 30 percent” are the employees who come up with most of the innovative ideas, create most of a company’s new customers and have the most entrepreneurial energy. If you doubled that number at your company, what would happen to the bottom line?

If you’re a company leader, isn’t it your obligation to do whatever it takes to improve organizational performance? Please share your thoughts about that — and some of the steps you’ve taken to increase employee engagement.

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