10 Charts to Prove Americans Are Bored of Working

Gallup has conducted a new study on employee engagement, which found a few surprising and startling facts related to management and Americans’ overall happiness and engagement with their jobs. Gallup defines engaged as employees who are “involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work, and contribute in a positive manner.”

While the study offered a lot of suggestions on how management can ignite or reignite the passion in its employers in a sort of top-down approach, the underlying theme was conclusive: Americans appear to be bored with their jobs. In measuring whether people were engaged, not engaged, or actively disengaged, the results consistently demonstrated a bored, apathetic, or otherwise disinterested population of American workers. Gallup estimated that this phenomenon costs U.S. businesses a total of $440 billion to $550 billion in revenue per year.

Here are 10 charts that prove Americans are bored of working:

1. Bored People

As of 2012, 70 percent of workers are either actively disengaged or not engaged. Gallup claims that this is related to “business outcomes essential to an organization’s financial success, including productivity, profitability, and customer satisfaction.”

2. Borders Are Not Boundaries to Boredom

State borders did not transcend the national trend. While some states possessed a greater amount of engaged employees than others, the numbers were still close to the average, with Louisiana bringing home the top spot for engaged workers at 37 percent. Minnesota had the lowest number of engaged workers, while 21 percent of Rhode Islanders are actively disengaged.

3. Engagement = Hiring

One of the more interesting finds by Gallup is this: Engaged employees reported their business was hiring, while actively disengaged employees reported their employer was letting people go. With the majority of Americans are outside of the engaged camp, this doesn’t bode well if the correlation proves strong in the future.

4. Differential Advantage

It’s no wonder American firms are struggling. Those in the top quartile of employing engaged workers outperformed their bottom-quartile peers by sometimes staggering margins. Look at safety incidents, where the best companies polled have 48 percent fewer accidents than do their lower-performing counterparts. Again, with a minority of Americans feeling engaged in their jobs, the ramifications of Gallup’s findings are not good.

5. Diminishing Returns

While a finding relating remote work activity to engagement offered signs of encouragement, Gallup discovered that there were diminished returns on allowing employes to work remotely too often. Those employees working up to 20 percent of their time from a remote location showed an increase in hours worked and engagement, while those approaching the higher thresholds reverted backward in the trend.

6. Size Really Does Matter

It’s true after all: Size really does matter, or at least according to Gallup. Smaller is better for employee engagement; firms with fewer than ten employees reported higher amounts of engagement, though the median was still less than half. As companies got larger, engaged and disengaged employees converged in the middle, toward 25 percent each.

7. Top-Down Engagement

In the past four years, only those in management positions have shown a substantial increase in engagement. Many other sectors have shown complacency, reaffirming the larger trend that Americans cannot seem to get emotionally attached to their jobs.

8. Romancing After the Honeymoon

Employers seem to be able to pique more interest in the earlier phases of a career. Heading into the middle part of an employee’s work cycle the numbers fall off as people lose interest in their jobs. Even those working for ten or more years and who are engaged can’t claim the majority, as only 46 percent of those polled reported feeling engaged.

9. Transcending Generational Divides

As the last chart might have indicated, age is not really a factor for engagement outside of the extreme minority. Traditionalists, who are a paltry 4 percent of the work force, report the highest amount of engagement, at 41 percent. Millennials, Generation Xers, and Boomers lag behind, polling in the 25 to 30 percent range. Fifty percent or more of the last three generations report being unengaged, making boredom and apathy truly transcendent of age.

10. Incentive For Engagement

Not that it isn’t already obvious, but if employers need another incentive to get employees engaged, it would be to attract the overwhelming number of actively disengaged people willing to leave work for a different job. That means the clock is ticking for employers before the job market turns around and disgruntled employees start flocking to different organizations.

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