Rita Davis, PhD.
Davis Leadership Consulting

A recent report by Gallup (2015) showed that only 32% of U.S. workers were actively engaged in their work. Think about this for a minute. If only 32% of your employees are actively engaged – meaning that they are involved, enthusiastic, committed to their work, understand the scope of their jobs, and seek new and better ways to achieve positive business outcomes – then what are the other 68% of your employees doing?

Let’s look at the employees that represent this 68%. The Gallup report found that 51% of the workforce was “not engaged” and 17% was “actively disengaged.” These disengaged employees have the ability to damage your organization. They often monopolize manager’s time, have more on-the-job accidents, account for more quality defects, contribute to “shrinkage,” miss more workdays, and quit at a higher rate than engaged workers do. Whatever the engaged worker accomplishes – such as solving problems, innovating, or creating positive customer relations – can be undermined or undone by the disengaged worker. A 2012 Gallup report stated that the actively disengaged workforce costs the U.S. economy 450 to 550 billion dollars. These figures are frightening. Had these employees been more engaged imagine the profits their organizations could have earned.

But even more frustrating is that 51% of the workforce is simply not engaged. These employees are hard to detect or spot. They are not hostile or disruptive. They show up for work each day and watch the clock while waiting for their breaks and quitting time. They have little or no concern about the customer, productivity, safety, mission, or purpose of their organization. They are essentially “checked out” and are doing just enough to get by.

So think about your employees. How many of them are just putting in time, doing the minimum? How many are waiting for quitting time and pay day? How many of them can damage your company? More importantly, how many of these employees – not engaged and actively disengaged – have direct contact with your customers or with your products? What are they doing to your company’s reputation and how are they affecting your bottom line?

Next in the series: How do you motivate your employees to become engaged with their work.


Gallup (2016, Jan 13). Employee Engagement in U.S. Stagnant in 2015. Gallup.com.

Gallup (2013). State of the American Workplace 2012. Employee Engagement Insights for U.S. Business Leaders.