Employees who’d rather tune into their iPod than the needs of your customers are nothing new. But is the problem getting worse? As they text and instant message friends about their discontent, or walk the length of the hallway just to gaze longingly at the parking lot, that’s not a bad question to consider. A new report, "The State of Employee Engagement 2008," issued by global consultant BlessingWhite, reveals that fewer than one in three North American workers are fully engaged. Moreover, 19 percent are completely disengaged, and a further 13 percent are disillusioned and at risk for becoming disengaged. The study, based on a survey of more than 7,500 employees and interviews with 40 human resource and line managers on four continents, identified five levels of employee engagement in North America:
Engaged: 29 percent. These employees are contributing fully to the success of the organization and find great satisfaction in their work. They bring discretionary effort and initiative.
Almost Engaged: 27 percent. A critical group, these employees are among the high performers and are reasonably satisfied with their job. Organizations, BlessingWhite recommends, should invest in them because they are highly employable and have the shortest distance to travel to reach full engagement.
Honeymooners or Hamsters: 12 percent. Honeymooners are new to the organization or their role and have yet to become fully productive. Hamsters may be working hard, but are, in effect, spinning their wheels, focused on the wrong things, and contributing little to the success of the organization.
Crash and Burners: 13 percent. "Crash and Burners" are disillusioned and potentially exhausted. They are top producers who are not satisfying their personal definition of success and satisfaction. Sometimes bitterly vocal, these workers, if left alone, may slip into disengagement and bring down those around them.
Disengaged: 19 percent. Disengaged employees are the most disconnected to organizational priorities and are not getting what they need from work. If left alone, people in this group are likely to collect a paycheck and enjoy favorable job conditions but contribute minimally. Some disengaged employees will leave, but more likely they will just talk about leaving. "While organizations are keen to maximize the contribution of each individual toward corporate imperatives and the metrics," says BlessingWhite CEO Christopher Rice, "individual employees need to find purpose and satisfaction in their work."
Source: Inside Training Newsletter, May 07, 2008
The BlessingWhite study is thought-provoking and, I assume, useful market research for BlessingWhite, but based on how the survey was done and who responded, I don’t have much confidence in their conclusions. For one thing, they didn’t use a representative sample and, as a result, the data are heavily skewed towards people who are in HR, management, and financial services. Also, the BlessingWhite definition of engagement is not the definition that I prefer to use. Engagement has many different meanings. Finally, there is no way to know from the survey how well the respondents perform in their workplaces. In general, survey data should always be understood within the context of how the survey was conducted.