Reading this article at the office? Join the club. A new Gallup poll reveals that seven out of ten American workers have “checked out” of their jobs. Previous polls have indicated the same level of vocational disengagement since the early 2000s; your boredom at work even bores the pollsters. Meanwhile, Gallup’s analysis estimates that “actively disengaged” employees—those who “hate” going to work—cost the US $550 billion per year in economic activity. Cue the evil villain music; the people perpetuating this recession sit in the cubicles next to you!
If you think I exaggerate the national harm of personal job dissatisfaction, check out this staggering statistic: engaged employees are twice as likely as their disengaged peers to report job creation. A strong relationship exists between employees’ workplace engagement and their company’s overall success. Gallup’s latest book details how increasing the percentage of engaged American workers will spur significant job growth.
Boredom on the job harms your health, too. Gretchen Gavett at the Harvard Business Review says that “people who aren’t engaged spend much more time experiencing emotions like worry, stress, and pain.”
So why do so many Americans feel bored and unhappy? More Americans with some college education feel more disengaged than those with a high school diploma or less. Men feel marginally more disengaged at work than women. At the end of the day, employees experience the same level of disengagement across all income levels.
A new study from the Urban Institute finds that thirty-something’s today have a net worth of 21 percent less than 30-somethings in 1983. If nothing changes, the millennial generation will miss out on the American dream of earning more money than their parents. “It’s the first time that’s happened in America since the Great Depression.”
Yet even in tough economic times, job engagement boils down to a single question: do you feel like you make a difference when you go to work? If you answer no, you probably check Facebook and your personal email by 10:00 am on Mondays. Says Timothy Egan at the New York Times: “Regular praise, opportunity for growth, and the occasional question from a higher-up of a lower-down about how to improve things goes a long way toward getting the checked-out to check back in.”