WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Employees who are in engaged in their work and workplace are twice as likely to report their organization is hiring new workers as those who are actively disengaged. Workers who are emotionally disconnected from their work and workplace are far more likely to report their organization is letting people go than those who are engaged. Americans report these substantial differences in their organization's hiring practices even though, collectively, Gallup finds overall U.S. job creation holding steady in recent months.
These findings are from a special Gallup Daily tracking series conducted January through June 2011 to thoroughly explore American workers' engagement levels. Gallup's employee engagement index is based on worker responses to 12 actionable workplace elements with proven linkages to performance outcomes, including productivity, customer service, quality, retention, safety, and profit. More recent research has found significant linkages between engagement at work and health and well-being outcomes.
Engaged employees are involved in and enthusiastic about their work. Those who are not engaged may be satisfied but are not emotionally connected to their workplaces and are less likely to put in discretionary effort. The actively disengaged are emotionally disconnected from their work and workplace and jeopardize their teams' performance.
Engagement Low but Improving
Overall, in the first half of 2011, 30% of U.S. workers employed full or part time are engaged in their work and workplace, up slightly from 28% in late 2010. Job creation has also improved from +10 at the end of 2010 to +15 in June. Approximately half of U.S. workers are not engaged, and nearly one in five are actively disengaged, unchanged from late 2010.
Currently, the American workforce has 1.5 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee. Gallup management research has found the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees varies greatly across different organizations, from more than eight engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee in the most highly motivated organizations to fewer than one engaged employee for every actively disengaged employee in the least motivated workforces. Engagement also varies across countries worldwide.
Analyzing the special Gallup Daily tracking series data cannot definitively determine the direction of the causal relationship between employee engagement and hiring practices. It is possible that employees are more engaged because of their organization's success or more disengaged because of their organization's lack of progress or the fear of layoffs. Recent research, published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science has studied the causal relationship between engagement conditions and financial performance, finding employee engagement predicts financial performance more strongly than financial performance predicts employee engagement. Leaders can use high employee engagement to improve employee retention, customer perceptions of service, and other outcomes that will then lead to better financial performance.
Overall, these findings provide a strong reminder that the general hiring patterns nationwide vary widely across employees working in different workplace environments. Workers in disengaging workplaces are more than twice as likely to report their organization is letting people go as are those in engaging workplaces. And workers in engaging workplaces are more than twice as likely to report their organization is hiring as are workers in disengaging workplaces. Job creation may partially be a result of the general economic climate, but it is also likely a function of the businesses' own success, driven by their workplace environment, performance, and strong leadership.
Gallup research has found that how leaders manage employees can significantly influence engagement and disengagement in the workplace, which in turn influences a company's bottom line and workers' health and well-being. This analysis suggests the most progressive organizations are those that are engaging their employees, thereby producing more and higher quality work. These same organizations also appear to be moving the job market in a positive direction.
Workplaces that disengage employees have lower productivity and are less likely hiring and more likely laying off workers. For those who wonder what they can do during a down economy to help their organization take an active role in improving the job market, one answer might be for them to engage the people they work with. Every manager can play a role in engaging workers by clarifying expectations, getting employees what they need to do their work, giving workers recognition when they do good work, encouraging employee development, helping workers connect to the broader purpose of the organization, and frequently measuring and discussing progress. The managers and departments within organizations that do these things are more likely to produce high-quality work and help their organizations grow and improve the well-being of their workforce.
About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks U.S. well-being and provides best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. To learn more, please visit well-beingindex.com.
About Gallup's Employee Engagement Index
Gallup's employee engagement index is based on decades of research studying which workplace elements matter most in driving performance outcomes across organizations throughout the world. Gallup researchers identified 12 elements that are summarized into 12 survey items. A composite of employee responses to the 12 items is used to formulate the engagement index groupings: engaged, not engaged, and actively disengaged.
Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup Daily tracking survey Nov. 16-Dec. 15, 2010 and Jan. 2-June 30, 2011, with random samples of 2,526 (2010) and 4,434 (2011) adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.
Maximum margin of sampling error ranges for subgroups vary according to size, ranging from ±1.9 percentage points for 2010 engagement and hiring to ±1.5 percentage points for 2011.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.