Most of you are disengaged at work, or you wouldn’t be reading this

If you’re at work right now, you’re probably part of the roughly 70 percent of Americans who qualify as disengaged employees. The exception would be if your job description specifically includes reading blogs on news sites, in which case, you have a great job.


For a long time, Gallup has been tracking workplace engagement. Since 2000, the results barely have budged. About 30 percent of Americans are engaged in their jobs. Of the rest, about 50 percent or so are not engaged, meaning they are going through the motions or looking for ways to goof off.

And about 20 percent are actively disengaged. These are the ones who steal from the till, call in sick when they just want to lounge around the pool or take in an afternoon ballgame, and, worse yet, tend to spread their negative influences among other workers.

They also, according to Gallup, cost the nation $450-$550 billion a year in lost productivity.

That last group reminds me of the German civil servant who retired a few years ago and sent an email to his colleagues telling them retirement would be nothing new. In fact, he said, he hadn’t done any work at all the last 14 years of his job. The Atlantic reported on this incident, noting that the email went viral and was not generally well received.

Nice work if you can get it. Except that I’m guessing not many people really would like to sit around the office and do nothing for 14 years.

Gallup offers solutions to this problem, including hiring the right kinds of managers and holding them accountable, and learning to connect with each employee.

The polling company also offers other interesting insights, such as that the state with the most engaged employees between 2010 and 2014 was Louisiana, at 37 percent, and that Minnesota, with 26 percent, was the least engaged.

Women are more engaged than men, on average, and people with college degrees tend to be less likely to report a “positive, engaging workplace experience” than those with less education.

Yes, kids, if you want a happy working life, don’t go to college.

I’m kidding, I hope.

Seriously, though, one thing has me troubled. The Atlantic also reported that surveys show about 60 percent of Internet purchases are made between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays. That’s a big hunk of change flowing from one group of disengaged employees to a group one assumes to be a bit more engaged, unless retail employees also shop online between sales.

Regardless, if too many companies follow Gallup’s advice and hire top-notch managers who engage their employees, think of the hit to the economy.

After all, when terrorists attacked on 9/11, the White House told everyone to go shopping to keep things rolling. Put things in that perspective and slacking off at work could take on the air of a patriotic duty.

At least, I’m sure many of you would like to think so.

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About the Author

Jay Evensen

Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist for the Deseret News. He has 32 years of journalism experience covering politics and a variety of other assignments at news organizations ranging from United Press International in New York City to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Deseret News, where he has worked since 1986. During that time, he has won numerous local, regional and national awards. Most recently, he was given the Cameron Duncan Media Award, given annually in Washington, D.C., by the advocacy group RESULTS, to the journalist judged to have done the most to further the cause of the world's poorest people.

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