Whopping 87% of employees worldwide are dis-engaged in their jobs!

A recent Gallup survey reports that only 13% employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs. The number for India is –

Engaged – 9%
Disengaged – 60%
Actively disengaged – 31%

The problem is not just a large percentage of disengaged employees but employees who are actively disengaged. Gallup defines actively disengaged employees as

“Actively disengaged employees aren’t just unhappy at work; they’re busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.”

disengaged employees

If you talk to many front line managers, they will be able to describe several reasons about why this is happening. In my opinion, it is not that the organizations are not aware of key issues that is causing this disenchantment. But what is hurting organization is the lack of ability and willingness to act on it and provide ways that employees feel connected to their company.

I do not want to focus on what key issues are and what can potentially be done – much literature exists on that. I am more interested in hearing your observations on what you have seen organizations trying out to increase employee engagement – what has worked and what has not.

Harvard Business Review has created an interactive map for all countries.

8 thoughts on “Whopping 87% of employees worldwide are dis-engaged in their jobs!

  1. Many employers increasingly treat their talent as interchangeable commodities. There are lots of reasons: a means for “lean” development, being cheap, or execs thinking more about their personal advancement than customers or employees. There also some real advantages if done right, but that isn’t easy.

    Managers who play lip service to quality and caring about the customers demotivate employees who would otherwise take great pride in their work.

    Teams are often split up or shuffled around without regard to the disruption that has. A lack of clear priorities and decisiveness can be devastatingly frustrating as people don’t know if what they are doing really matters.

    Lastly, over lading teams to the point of exhaustion indefinitely in the name of challenging them says that you don’t really care about the people making your success. You will burn them out and find new parts to the machine.

  2. Hi Hemant,

    Company has to take steps to involve its employees more. Many a times its not only the kind of work they do or the pay they get, we spend more than 1/3rd of our life at our workplace. so if there is a feeling of belongingness, excitement at workplace then the involvement of employees would be much more than what it would be otherwise.

    Also, we have come up with a program for employees wherein the employee would gradually behave in a manner desired by company(without they knowing about it), also be more involved and be rewarded on continuous basis.

  3. A variety of areas have been explored; in my experience- all have fail. All.

    Reason for that is not one single attempt has dealt with the core issue/s at hand – why are the employees dissatisfied? Why are they disengaged? In my experience no one has even tried to attempt this.

    As a result, the efforts at engagement are centering around employee activities, rewards and recognition, feel-good programmes, dress-up and dress-down days, cafeteria enhancements, remuneration and emoluments etc. Not one of these has worked; in fact – the exact reverse. All have boomeranged, and boomeranged big-time.

    The reason is not far to see: none attempts to solve the real problems plaguing the corporate world, where what one actually does is in complete variance with our value systems, as well as frequently openly against the law. The lack of Job Security is a further dampener. The total absence of leaves (even if pushed, insecurity forces employees not to take leaves) is an added burden. This is complicated by a lack of security once outside the job.

    The real problems are the penchant to take unhealthy or even illegal shortcuts; pressure tactics; hire-and-fire; long work hours; lack of personal time and downright unhealthy work atmoshpere cutting across levels and functions.

    If you want the employee to be engaged – stop all the frankly ridiculous attempts at engagement – and start enriching his/her job; give him/her security; shorten work hours; give personal space; empower employees and free from ridiculous levels of control. Thats it.

    Nothing else is required. One straight, frank and blunt feedback – whenever such programmes, or measures are announced (as in the third para above), I have heard snide remarks as well as foul language. Real foul language. It is a common statement – why should we do anything for the company, when it does nothing for us? Whats in it for me? I’ll stay here for 1-2 years and move on! How can anyone be engaged in such an atmosphere? Inmpossible!





    Sorry for the long comment – but your question cannot be addressed in soft language, or in short paragraphs.


  4. Hi Vishal,

    I appreciate your reply. Do you want to share any example, instances that have worked and helped improve the engagement? Sharing of such examples may help people/managers/organizations know something that they can try out in a similar situation.

    • Hemant,

      You cant change the status quo. If you do – you get sacked, or victimised. This has been my experience, as well as of many many other people. An instance came to mind: I sent a PMS analysis to a top industry professional in telecom – only to get the stunning response “Vishal This is precisely what I tried – and failed”. This guy was heading a continent! I myself haven’t even an inkling of how to change the status quo!

      From personal experience in leading teams – nearly 70-80% of employees respond positively to kind and understanding handling, personal space and independence, time for personal activities, and total intolerance of unhealthy / illegal acts. But once you go down that road, you as the Boss pay for it, as I have. Twice. Blunt : I have received instructions to commit clear transgressions of law or company rules from Seniors more than once, and oblique hints as a general rule.

      As a BM, I started a simple rule: morning 9:30 – 10:15, I would personally take trainings – in which we would have open discussions on products, markets, competition etc. Next, I made it clear to everyone what my expectations were: including telling them frankly if Stretch Targets from above were impossible to achieve. If you are doing 11, it is extreme stupidity to expect 50! I gave them their own benchmarks, basis their individual territory realities, and instructed them to exceed those. I told them to f%^& the numbers and concentrate on the basics. I told them clearly – forget the NSM and RSM. I will take the pressure – including laying my job on the line. Just do your best – your very best. I told them I trust you fully.

      In the past 6 years of being a Team Leader or A Branch Head or a Second Line Manager, I have sacked only 2 employees (one for gross dereliction, not having visited his channel for long periods; the second for skulduggery). I have not had anyone leave me for another company. And I have met my targets as well. It can be done.

      Initially it is tough – as you cant hit those idiotic baseless numbers that are demanded, which have no provable basis in market realities; since the bosses never visit the field they have only a paper idea. But with this method, right from Day 1, you start hitting ALL other parameters except the numbers, which do take a little time to come in.

      Employee engagement was high; very high.

      But I paid a heavy personal price for it.

      Makes no difference to me; I will not destroy anyone else’s career to save mine – and neither will I break any law.

    • To be blunt and straight – the entire system has to change, Hemant. Look around – examples abound, Satyam, Cobrapost, FDA attacks on our Drug companies like Ranbaxy and Wockhardt, Telecom Tangle, Footwear etc all speak the same story.

      Change can only happen if Industry Seniors realise what is happening in the middle levels and act on it… let us hope that happens. This is why I am writing these lines in total fearlessness. Someone has to start to speak up.

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