Engaged and disengaged workers

Is there anything to be done?

We all know the differences between engaged and disengaged workers.

Professor William Kahn, who coined the phrase, defined engaged workers as those who are able to harness their ‘full self’ at work.

Engaged workers will show loyalty and ownership of their tasks. They will do things they are not asked to do, they will go the extra mile – if they believe it will benefit the organisation and the people it serves.

These people bring their own energy and gift to the task and offer the organisation significant added value.

Disengaged workers fall into two categories. Some are merely passive, doing what needs to be done, but offering no discretionary effort.
Others are actively disengaged, feeling little need to pull their weight and offering a negative presence in the organisation.

As we reflect on these three groups, it’s interesting how similar the percentages are across the world. The norm for organisations is 41% engaged, 38% passively disengaged and 21% actively disengaged.

And it doesn’t alter much between genders or age-groups.

Engagement goes up to 49% at management level but otherwise, the overall data stays the same across the world with one excpetion. In South America and the Caribbean, the engagement level is 61%, significantly higher – and the actively disengaged only 11%.

Do they have secrets to share?

There will always be engaged and disengaged workers in an organisation. People bring their own unhappiness to the work place and no employer, however enlightened, can make that go away.

But let me state the obvious: when people feel valued, it makes a great deal of difference.

Many companies these days talk the talk about how important their employees are.
But they do need to deliver on their words – or create an even more alienated workforce.

Empty words may be worse than no words. As one employee told me: ‘They’re always talking about our mental wellbeing – but they don’t actually do anything apart from talk, while increasing our workload. It’s a joke.’

But when the talk is accompanied by action, it is different.

When people feel valued by their employers, when people feel heard, it’s remarkable what they’ll do, and amazing the energy and gift they’ll offer.

Offering a sense of value is surely the first task of management?

If you would like to find out more about how to engage your workforce, visit our Development page under How It Works.