engagement by the numbersLast week the Gallup Organization released its report on The State of the American Workplace and as usual, the 214-page study is full of fascinating insights relating to employee engagement.  Gallup began tracking employee engagement in the U.S. in 2000 and while their findings have revealed little change in overall engagement, there has been minor improvement over the past several years.

For a quick take on this year’s report, check out David J. Rys’ blog: insubordinationThe author drives home the point that, as in other years, managers’ lack of engagement is a significant factor in the lack of improvement.


“When we examine executives and front-line managers (those who only manage individual contributors) separately, we find that 45% of executives are engaged versus just 29% of managers.

So if you think this problem is limited to low-level, frontline employees who are perhaps inherently lazy or unmotivated, you’d be mistaken in Gallup’s estimation. Managers aren’t all that engaged at work either – especially those closest to the rank-and-file. This would seem to doubly unfortunate, considering that:

Employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged than those supervised by actively disengaged managers.”

And, according to Gallup, the cost of actively disengaged employees to the U.S. economy—in terms of lost productivity—is between $483 billion and $605 billion annually.

Section 9 of the Gallup report presents a snapshot of employee engagement, and shows variations attributed to factors such as job category, gender, age, geography, company size and education.

Among these factors, I found the following to be especially interesting.

Engagement Among Workers by State – Alabama leads the country with the highest percentage of engaged workers at 37%.  Delaware, Kentucky, and Louisiana are at 36%, while Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas each have 35% employee engagement.  Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York have the lowest percentage of engaged workers at 29%.

On the other end of the spectrum, 21% of workers in West Virginia are actively disengaged, as are 19% of those in Nevada, New Mexico, New York, and Pennsylvania.  Alaska and Utah have the lowest percentage of actively disengaged employees: 13%.

Gallup found that highly engaged states have greater proportions of workers who are:

  • self-employed on a full-time basis
  • high school graduates, but not college graduates
  • employed in blue collar roles in transportation, installation and repair, and farming and fishing

Engagement Among Workers by Company Size – The largest companies have the lowest levels of engagement, while the smallest companies have the highest.  Gallup reported that companies with 25 or fewer employees far outpace all others by a difference of 8-12 percentage points.  From 2012-2016, the engagement of small companies grew by five percentage points, while the other companies’ engagement was stagnant.

Engagement Among Workers by Education Level – Engagement is highest among employees with a high school diploma or less.  This group is followed closely by those with some college, and those who have done postgraduate work.  Employees with college degrees but no postgraduate work rank last.

This is perhaps due to an overall feeling of disappointment which contributes to a lower level of engagement.  With more college graduates in the workforce, many are struggling to find a job that makes their degree seem worthwhile.

The world is changing at a dizzying pace, and today’s workplace is constantly evolving.  Employees are looking for a sense of belonging, a meaningful place in the organization, and the opportunity to maximize their potential.

As Vice President of QIC, Jeff oversees daily operations as well as the company’s strategic marketing initiatives. He has 20+ years in the incentive and recognition industry with prior lengthy experience in retail marketing/advertising and consumer loyalty.

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