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Here’s Why You’re Not More Engaged at Work


Reading this on your fourth coffee break today? You’ve got company. According to Gallup, less than one-third of U.S. workers were engaged with their jobs in 2015. While we tend to talk about employee engagement as if the employees themselves are to blame, those statistics might hint that there’s more to the problem than just a few workers with attitude problems.

asleep at work

(Photo Credit: reynermedia/Flickr)

Saying “Engagement” Over and Over Again Doesn’t Make It Happen

Do You Know What You're Worth?

What’s probably-not-Einstein’s definition of insanity again? One of the major problems with trying to “boost” engagement is that really all we’re doing is using different words to describe the same processes. A key impediment to increasing engagement is merely updating the nomenclature to reflect identical practices.

See? That second sentence added virtually no value to the conversation.

Similarly, as Mark C. Crowley quotes Dr. Jim Harter in a recent interview, employers are throwing vague terms and definitions on the same practices they’ve always used, and calling them engagement methods. It’s important, Crowley notes, to not merely come up with new terminology but also throw out the “archaic methods” that clearly aren’t working.

Here’s how you can get creative about new strategies that your team can employ together.

You’ve Got Lousy Hours

Two words: flex schedule. According to SHRM, 91 percent of surveyed professionals agree that flexible schedules increase employee engagement. And yet, according one study reported by The New York Times, only about 20 percent of surveyed employers offered suitable flex-hour options for their employees. There’s clearly a disconnect here.

Go to your boss and share your predicament. Without indicting yourself on lack of engagement, pose a solution to your boss about how you could be even more effective by simply changing your start and end times on certain days of the week. Make the job work for you.

It’s Actually Pretty Tough to Be a Great Manager

Scientifically speaking, not every human is the same. So it makes sense that not every human would be a good manager. But as it turns out we don’t need to rely on vague and non-specific adages to understand that: according to a Gallup study from 2014, employees make a bad hire in the management department a staggering 82 percent of the time. The explanation: according to Gallup, only one in 10 people has all five of the essential traits of being a great manager (motivator, accountable, assertive, relationship builder, and decision maker).

Gallup’s conclusion is that only 30 percent of employees are engaged in large part because they don’t have the right manager — and with 82 percent of managers being bad hires, those numbers don’t seem so low anymore.

Tell Us What You Think

Are you having trouble staying engaged at work? What’s your go-to solution? We want to hear from you: leave a comment below or join the conversation on Twitter!

Peter Swanson
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None GivenTKlizHappy New Year Recent comment authors
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This problem has been known for a VERY long time. So much so that it was a main focal point in my undergraduate and graduate years in college. The cause of the problem is that the bully on the playground is not going to give up the power or control. Since the working body of the business produces all the product or service, but has no control in the company, things will never change. The only way to fix the… Read more »

Happy New Year
Happy New Year

Often I am not engaged, because I just don’t know how to implement a particular task – I am a software developer. With most of our jobs having been outsourced to India, we don’t have enough qualified developers on shore anymore and trying to talk to our Indian friends is a whole different story. So often I just end up sitting not knowing what to do. It’s very demotivating.

None Given
None Given

Because the people that can’t do manage – they rise to their level of incompetency.


If HR is supposedly a legitimate “science,” how do all these bad-manager hires happen in the first place?

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