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Unhappy At Work? You’re Not Alone

Report says only one in three employees are engaged at work

unhappy at work 4Unhappy at work? You’re not alone. Less than one-third of employees are fully engaged at the office according to a recent report, The State of Employee Engagement 2008, by BlessingWhite.

Most employees are not as productive as they could be. Based on a survey of over 7,500 employees and interviews with 40 HR and line managers, the report found that 19% are completely disengaged, and 13% are disillusioned and at risk for becoming disengaged.

Employees who do not feel connected are more likely to seek new employment. “For instance, we found that 85% of engaged employees plan to stay with their company during the year ahead. The study underlines the observation that engaged employees stay for what they give, while disengaged employees stay for what they get, says Christopher Rice, BlessingWhite CEO.”

The State of Employee Engagement 2008 identified five levels of employee engagement in North America:

  • Engaged: 29% 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% A critical group, these employees are among the high performers and are reasonably satisfied with their job. Organizations should invest in them because they are highly employable and they have the shortest distance to travel to reach full engagement.
  • Honeymooners or Hamsters: 12% 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 & Burners: 13% “Crash & 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% 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 will leave, but more likely they will just talk about leaving.

Although the study found no significant differences in engagement levels between men and women, there were many differences between career segments. Groups with largest number of engaged employees are HR consulting/training (46%), energy/utilities (40%), legal & business services (34%) and association/not-for-profit 34%). With HR and sales departments have the most engaged (36% each), and finance and IT having the least (23% and 22% respectively).

Industries with the fewest engaged employees are academia/higher education (23%), high technology (24%), chemicals (24%), retail (24%) and government (25%).

Interestingly, the study also found that virtual employees are slightly more engaged than their peers who work with their entire team present (34% vs. 28%). And that engagement levels decreased somewhat as workforce size increases, with 32% of respondents from organizations of 1-999 employees compared with 25% in firms of more than 10,000 fully engaged.

“While organizations are keen to maximize the contribution of each individual toward corporate imperatives and the metrics, individual employees need to find purpose and satisfaction in their work,” said Rice.

Of the 7,508 respondents surveyed between December 2007 and February 2008, 44% reside in North America, 32% in India, 9% in Europe, 6% in Southeast Asia (including Australia) and 3% in China.

About Annette Richmond, MA

Annette Richmond, MA, CARW, CCELW, is a Certified Resume Writer, Certified LinkedIn Profile Writer, and former recruiter. Her career advice has been featured by Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, Business Insider, Monster, Vault, and WSJ. She helps motivated, senior level professionals tell their unique career story. She also serves as executive editor of career-intelligence.com.


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