That’s the headline from a 1/13/16 article published on the website of Gallup, the gold standard when it comes to analytics and insight about Employee Engagement (EE).  The article goes on to report that 32% of American workers were engaged on the job last year, while the equivalent figure for 2014 was 31.5%.  So despite the millions of person-hours and billions of dollars expended on EE efforts, the needle ticked up by just one-half of one percentage point.  (To be fair, since the base was 31.5, that could also be said to represent an improvement of 1.58 percent.)

But that Gallup headline glosses over the real news: the fact that EE levels that are stagnant isn’t news at all. 

If you’re skeptical, take a look at Gallup’s EE survey results since the turn of the millennium.  In 2000, the percentage of the U.S. workforce engaged on the job was 28%.  Here are the (rounded) numbers for the next 15 years:

·      2001:  30%

·      2002:  30%

·      2003:  28%

·      2004:  29%

·      2005:  26%

·      2006:  30%

·      2007:  30%

·      2008:  29%

·      2009:  28%

·      2010:   28%

·      2011:    29%

·      2012:   30%

·      2013:   30%

·      2014:   32%

·      2015:   32%

So over a 15-year period, EE levels have gone up by just .13 percentage points per year.  Or, to once again be fair by starting from a base of 30, that’s an annual growth rate of .43%, which is less than many commercial bank savings accounts are paying these days. (For the record, the changes are so small that the CAGR is also .43%.)

How many businesses do you know that are satisfied with that kind of ROI?  So why do we keep hammering away with the standard, tried-and-not-so-true mechanistic/instrumental approaches to EE?

There’s a book out now that does a reasonably good job at identifying the flaws in those standard approaches (he wrote with all due immodesty).  As a matter of fact, that book has recently been nominated as one of the Top 20 Leadership Books of 2015 (he wrote, pegging the immodesty meter).

Want to know more?  Scroll down just a bit to yesterday’s Musing and read about my book, Otherwise Engaged--speaking of which, if you'd like to cast a vote for it as 2015's "Leadership Book of the Year", just click here, scroll down to the VOTE NOW button, and have at it.  (The immodesty meter just burned out.)