Engaged Employees Are the Answer to U.S. Economic and Healthcare Woes

August 7, 2014

Seventy percent of U.S. employees are disengaged, leading to lower productivity and higher health costs

OREM, Utah, August 7, 2014 – Only 30 percent of American workers are engaged and happy in their jobs, according to a 2013 Gallup poll. This costs the U.S. economy an estimated $450 billion to $550 billion every year and causes other serious problems.

Employee engagement is only part of the equation to creating more-productive employees. Other factors include their physical health, personal relationships, community involvement, and financial health. Employees who are doing well in each of these areas and in their jobs are described as being “engaged” and “thriving.” Twenty-two percent of Americans fall into this category.

The huge number of disengaged workers (who are described as either “struggling” or “suffering” in their personal lives in the Gallup poll) causes both workers and businesses to miss out on numerous benefits:

  • Engaged, thriving employees’ healthcare costs are 41 percent lower than struggling employees and 62 percent lower than suffering employees.
  • They have 46 percent fewer unhealthy days and are 39 percent less likely to be diagnosed with a new disease in the following year.
  • Engaged, thriving employees also have significantly lower absenteeism, turnover, and safety incidents.
  • Companies that focus on employees’ strengths have 12.5 percent higher productivity than ones that focus on employees’ weaknesses.

“When leaders in the United States of America – or any country for that matter – wake up one morning and say collectively, ‘Let’s get rid of managers from hell, double the number of great managers and engaged employees, and have those managers lead based on what actually matters,’ everything will change,” said Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup.

Here are several ways to improve employee engagement:

  • Ask for employees’ opinions on relevant, actionable areas of their jobs and then make changes according to their responses.
  • Don’t promote managers based on tenure but on their ability to meet workers’ unique needs.
  • Teach managers how to engage employees and then judge them on their employee engagement.
  • Encourage employees to take the initiative and be empowered to try new things.

“At our company, we’ve been successful by focusing on employee engagement,” said David K. Williams, CEO of Fishbowl, an Orem, Utah-based inventory software company. “It’s good to see other companies catching on to this need for better management. That’s why we have started offering training specifically geared toward employee engagement from the top down.”

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