The Workers of the World Are United in Disengagement

To understand why the global recovery remains sluggish, and while social unrest abounds in many countries, look no further than the workplace. 

In a previous post, we discussed a Gallup poll that found that seven in 10 workers have "checked out" at work or are "actively disengaged." According to Gallup's analysis, "actively disengaged" employees - those who "hate" going to work - cost the U.S. as much as $550 billion in economic activity annually.

Now here's some consolation, if we want to call it that. The U.S. is actually performing much better than the rest of the world in employee engagement. A new global study by Gallup, which surveyed 142 countries, found that only 13 percent of employees worldwide are engaged at work. "In other words," Steve Crabtree of Gallup writes, "about one in eight workers -- roughly 180 million employees in the countries studied -- are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organizations."

What is equally astounding is that the 13 percent engagement level is actually an improvement from the 11 percent reported in Gallup's previous global workplace assessment, conducted in 2009-2010. 

So which regions have the most disengaged workers? Only 6 percent of workers in East Asia are engaged. 68 percent are not engaged and 26 percent are "actively disengaged." In other words, over one-quarter of the workers in this region are actively hurting their companies. In the Middle East and North Africa, that figure is a whopping 35 percent. 

The analysis of Gallup's report can be read here

So what do we make of this? 

Steve Crabtree concludes:

Gallup's finding that the vast majority of employees worldwide report an overall negative experience at work -- and just one in eight are fully involved in and enthusiastic about their jobs -- is important when considering why the global recovery remains sluggish, while social unrest abounds in many countries.

We would add this thought: as depressing as these numbers are, they represent an opportunity. Companies that are successful at keeping their employees engaged have a competitive advantage, which should be ample incentive for the global business community to work to improve these numbers. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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