Employee disengagement is just about any employer’s nightmare. Not only does it cost the U.S. economy in lost productivity, but it keeps companies from operating to their highest potentials and is overtly destructive to their bottom line. A recent report from Gallup highlights that there is no clear geographic pattern in the U.S. where the states with the lowest engagement levels of employees are located, but it does shed light on the region where the most engaged workers cluster. Seven of the 10 states where engagement is highest are in the south.
Gallup gathered data from a total of 151,294 surveys from January through December 2012 and categorized workers based on an employee engagement index that classifies workers as engaged, not engaged, or actively disengaged based on their survey responses. While engaged employees are characterized by involvement and enthusiasm for their work, unengaged workers are satisfied in their workplace, but not emotionally committed, often leading them to only completing the baseline of what needs to get done. Actively disengaged workers, on the other hand, are emotionally disconnected from their work, and can sink employee morale and performance. For now, we’ll concentrate on the states that foster the former — the employer’s dream workers, or the actively engaged employees. Here’s a look at those 10 states:
Alabama is first on our list, and marks the beginning of a geographic pattern that will prevail: engaged employees cluster in the South. The state boasts a figure that maintains 32.8 percent of its employees are engaged workers — a number which you can compare to a state’s like Minnesota, that has the least engaged employees with a 25.7 percent total. That means that 32.8 percent of workers in Alabama are involved in or enthusiastic about their work, an optimistic figure that will only grow higher as we progress on our list.
Next up we break that Southern pattern and move west to hit Wyoming, a state where 32.8 percent of its employees are engaged in their work. Though Alabama and Wyoming post identical figures, it is interesting that Wyoming also makes another Gallup list. Just as it is the 9th best state for worker engagement, it is also the 10th best state for least actively disengaged employees. Only 16.9 percent of Wyoming’s workers are actively disengaged, compared with poor Rhode Island, which suffers 21 percent active disengagement among its employees.
As long as the offices in this next state have their air conditioning on, its workers are likely to be engaged, as the Gallup report illuminates that 32.9 percent of workers in Nevada are engaged in their work. This figure is above the national average of employee engagement at 30.3 percent, as are all the other states on our list. Nevada’s percent of unengaged workers, 49.7 percent, is also below the national average of 51.6 percent. Its actively disengaged workers (17.4 percent) also slip under the national figure of 18.1 percent, though Nevada isn’t afforded the opportunity of being on the same additional list that the states that flank it are.
We head back down south to Texas next, where 33.4 percent of workers are engaged in their work, earning Texas the #7 spot. And luckily for Texas, it also belongs on the list with Wyoming of the states that boast the least actively disengaged employees. It takes the #9 rank there, with only 16.8 percent of its workers falling under the categorization of actively disengaged workers, who are potentially detrimental to the workplace. However, of all the 10 states on the most engaged list, Texas also has the highest percent of non-engagement, at 49.8 percent — almost half of the area’s workers.
6. South Carolina
South Carolina is up next, posting a 33.6 percent figure for worker active engagement. These employees likely connect with their company’s mission and values, and often offer suggestions for improving the workplace. Gallup explains that these employees are not only more productive at work, but also have better health habits, fewer chronic illnesses, and report more hiring at their companies. The state posts a 17.8 percent figure for employee active disengagement.
Arkansas marks the halfway point on our list — a status that is afforded by the 33.9 percent of its employees who are reported as actively employed. Though the state boasts a percentage a full point higher than that of Wyoming, unlike the mountain state, Arkansas does not appear on the list of 11 states with the least actively disengaged employees, most likely because a solid 18.5 percent of its workers are actively disengaged — the highest of any other state on our list.
Georgia helps us continue our Southern trend, coming in at #4 on the list with 34 percent of its workers reporting active engagement. Its percent of workers who are actively disengaged is also relatively low at 17.1 percent and those not engaged in the state totals at 48.9 percent. That means that almost half of the workers in the state are not undermining their jobs and employees, but they don’t have an emotional commitment to their work.
3. South Dakota
South Dakota takes the #3 spot, posting an impressive 34.3 percent of engaged workers. The state also falls short and doesn’t make the list of states with the least actively disengaged employees — an interesting trend to note, especially as we make our way to #1 on our way — but it does contain the same percentage of actively disengaged workers as Georgia with 17.1 percent. South Dakota hosts an ever so slightly lower number of actively disengaged workers, coming in at 48.6 percent.
Oklahoma maintains a healthy distance from the state vying for its rank, as Oklahoma posts a 35.8 percent active employee engagement rate, a full percentage point higher than South Dakota’s figure. But interestingly enough, Oklahoma has a greater percentage of unengaged workers, at 49.1 percent. However, its figure for actively disengaged workers is a much more appealing number at 15.1 percent, compared to South Dakota’s 17.1 percent.
Louisiana pulls ahead of the rest of the nation’s states and boasts a number that highlights 37 percent of its workforce as engaged, officially granting it the title of the U.S. state with the most engaged employees. The Southern state also makes the list of states with the least actively disengaged employees, taking the #7 spot at 15.9 percent. However, it still posts a head-scratching figure for unengaged employees, totaling 47.1 percent.