Engaging the Disengaged

In early '80s there was a startling statistic being bantered around that scared the heck out of me. The stat was that over 80 percent of people surveyed actually hated their job. 80 percent! I was in my undergraduate studies at university at the time and promised myself I would never enter that 80 percent group. My plan was to apply for graduate school and stay there until I figured out what I really wanted to do. After a few years I came to the end of the runway (and bank account) and was forced to enter the big, bad world of full time work. Imagine my horror when I landed a job that I absolutely hated working for what we call today a "boss-hole." In other words I wound up in the heart of the 80 percent group.

I am convinced that today with universal access to information about available jobs thanks to the Internet and the lower social stigma associated with frequent job changes, the percentage of people who hate their job has declined significantly. However I would bet that the percentage of people who hate their jobs is still above 50 percent.

On February 2, an article was published entitled Gallup Poll Finds Employee Engagement Nearing All Time Lows. It was a summary of Gallup's annual employee engagement figures. The research shows that after over a decade of relatively stable employee engagement numbers something happened. The percentage of engaged employees went down from the usual 30 percent territory to only 10 percent. Accordingly the percentage of employees not engaged increased to a disturbing 71 percent. Those actively disengaged, which means employees who are physically present but psychologically absent, continued to hover around 20 percent. The actively disengaged are those who are not only unhappy with their work situation, but insist on sharing this unhappiness with their colleagues. A friend of mine who is a living case study of a dis-engaged worker has a cute coffee cup on his desk which reads "some days the best thing about my job is that the chair spins."

In the last blog I spoke about using this space to introduce a new management paradigm called human equity. It is the first approach to management based on a positive psychology template created in the late nineties. I believe human equity can substantially improve employee engagement and significantly reduce disengagement. Can you imagine the impact of a 40 percent increase to the number of actively engaged people at work combined with a substantial decrease in the number of actively disengaged employees? How would that change the average day at work?

We are looking to start a movement to create this. Wanna join?