Business Week interviewed Jim Harter of Gallup about the firm's extensive analysis of worker engagement (or should we say, disengagement) across the United States. Gallup data show that only 30% of American workers are engaged at their workplaces. If you think that this problem exists only in the United States, think again. Harter explained that the global engagement numbers are even lower! Harter offered some comments based on their analysis of the data:
We see workplaces that have doubled the rate of average engagement, and the variance has a lot to do with the quality of management. Having a manager who really understands the individuals they’re managing and gets them into positions where they can use their talents effectively is really important. And then we’ve also found that individuals knowing what they do best and knowing their talents and being aware of them so that they can then leverage them along with their co-workers is really important. Another thing that kind of stood out to me in these organizations we studied that grew is they didn’t use the economy and changes in the economy as an excuse. When the economy dropped, they just leaned into it a bit more.
As for those companies that have moved to open floor plans, well they might want to rethink that design. Harter reports that people tended to be more engaged if they had "a space that they could call their own." They enjoy collaborating with others, but they value their own space. As for telecommuting, it does not harm engagement in general. In fact, telecommuters tended to report slightly higher engagement on average. However, the most engaged workers in the Gallup data are actually those who telecommute less than 20% of the time.