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Miserable At Work

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The Gallup organization regularly conducts a survey they refer to as the “Well-Being Index” that looks at a broad range of issues that have an impact on the lives of Americans, including whether they are trusted and respected at work.

But let’s start with the broader index of how Americans are feeling overall. According to the most recent Gallup release, “More Americans are rating their lives better than at any time since the recession began… In October, 53.2% of American adults were classified as “thriving,” a new high mark and substantially improved over the 37.4% measured last November.”

That’s the good news. Now, let’s take a look at that part of the index that evaluates how Americans feel about their workplace. According to Gallup, working Americans feel worse today about their work environment than they did when the index began almost 2 years ago.

The Details from Gallup

Here are the numbers, “The Work Environment Index declined to 48.1 in October, its lowest level since measurement began in January 2008. The Work Environment Index has dropped more than five points since spiking to the high of 53.3 in October 2008, at the onset of the global economic collapse.” Gallup asks questions for the Work Environment Index related to whether respondents work in an environment that is open and trusting, whether they are treated with respect by their supervisor, and whether or not they are able to use their strengths at work.

Gallup only surveys people who are currently employed by others, so these numbers are not skewed by respondents that are out of work. This decline represents fully employed Americans. This appears contrary to the notion that people who are employed in an economic downturn are somehow automatically simply thrilled to have a job. Apparently, they are not. Gallup doesn’t speculate as to why there has been a downturn in how Americans feel about their workplace, but the science related to employee engagement does give a few clues. More on that in a subsequent blog post.

Obviously, if employees have negative feelings about their work environment, and more specifically their supervisor, employers are not going to have an impressive level of organizational engagement where they are volunteering their discretionary effort in their daily work or in their interactions with customers and clients.   More on this issue in subsequent posts.

Employers who value the importance of employee engagement and see the connection with productivity, profitability, and other issues like absenteeism and turnover, will obviously be a better position and have a higher level of organizational engagement.  Here are a few things you can do right now:

  • Review our “Ten Laws of Employee Engagement” white paper to get a better focus on what you can do internally
  • Watch our employee engagement webinar to gain additional insights
  • Subscribe to this blog for regular tips and resources

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