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Business Journal

Who Cared?

In hundreds of companies where The Gallup Organization has consulted, it has demonstrated that employees who feel engaged, or fully involved in their work, contribute more as a whole to the bottom line than employees who are just coasting along. To boost engagement, Gallup researchers have identified several key employee needs that must be met, among them the need to be cared for as an individual.

In GMJ's fifth national survey, U.S. workers ages 18 and older were asked whether their companies had responded to the Sept. 11 tragedy by, say, making philanthropic contributions, granting time off or addressing employee concerns directly. Respondents were also asked to rate the quality of the response as excellent, good, fair or poor. GMJ then correlated the findings with the level of employee engagement.

For individuals in companies where the response to Sept. 11 was excellent, 48% of employees were engaged, and only 6% of employees were actively disengaged, or fundamentally checked out. For individuals in companies where the response was poor, only 11% were engaged and a crushing 39% were actively disengaged. To put these figures in perspective, consider that Gallup research shows that, on average, 29% of the U.S. workforce is engaged and 16% is actively disengaged.

The lesson here: When compassion is called for, know that your bottom line is at stake.

For each of the past four quarters, GMJ has calculated the cost of lost productivity due to actively disengaged employees. A year ago, for example, when 19% of workers were actively disengaged, we calculated that U.S. economic performance was penalized by about $300 billion. With this issue, we begin plotting our figures against the quarter-to-quarter change in U.S. labor productivity. Will change in the level of disengagement portend change in U.S. productivity? Stay tuned.

Results of these surveys are based on nationally representative samples of about 1,000 employed adults age 18 or older. Interviews were conducted by telephone from October 2000 to February 2002 by The Gallup Organization. For results based on samples of this size, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects could be plus or minus three percentage points. For findings based on subgroups, the sampling error would be greater.

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