71% of Employees Are Unhappy With Their Work!


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Companies active in customer-driven business talk a lot about understanding the world of customers. But they also talk a lot about the critical role that employees play in understanding customers, and of course in delivering products, services and experiences that match them.

A post on Mark Graban’s Lean Blog about Poll: Most Companies Neglecting Employees highlighted a recent Gallup Management Journal study on how employee perceptions of happiness and well-being affect job performance.

It will come as no suprise that happy, engaged employees are more satisfied with their work, are more productive at it and are more able to adapt to the continuous changes that modern business life brings. It will also come as no suprise that happy, engaged employees are also more satisfied with home life and get more out of life in general.

But what horrified me was the finding that fully 71% of US employees surveyed where either not engaged by their work, or were actively disengaged from it. In other words, they were just warm bodies who couldn’t wait for the work day to end. What an appalling waste of employee knowledge, skills and experience!

The Gallup study showed that much of the feeling of engagement at work came from supervisors focusing on the employees’ strengths and providing positive encouragement. Fellow employees also affected the feeling of engagement but not as much as supervisors. All of this is part of a universal virtous cycle that drives not only high performance at work, but also things like the adoption of innovations at work.

What do you think? Are you engaged, happy and productive at work? Or is your CV always up-to-date just in case?

Post a comment and get the conversation going.

Graham Hill

Graham Hill (Dr G)
Business Troubleshooter | Questioning | Thoughtful | Industrious | Opinions my own | Connect with me on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamhill/


  1. Hi Graham,

    First I will answer your question. I am happy for my work and I have not looked at my CV for years now.
    In your post you namely speak about both innovation and productivity in relation to employees’ perception of happiness. I assume you measure productivity in quantity of the output, not as much as the quality of the output it selves.

    I am working for a German software company responsible for sales but I have a Danish residence as I am Danish. I have the last 5 years mainly worked in counties such as Denmark, Sweden and Germany and I must say that I see great differences in the way people are managed – and the impact this has on innovation (and happiness)

    In my opinion there are no doubts that employees in Germany are managed in a way to create a higher quantity of output – and often this focus is measured as hours spend at work. In comparison the way people in Sweden and Denmark are managed are now different as it has changed radically. The last years the amount of people which are given the opportunity to work a day or two from home has increased significantly. In Denmark this change has been a result of the low unemployment rate, which has made companies focus on offering this opportunity to attract the most qualified people. I recently read in a Danish Newspaper that since this has been the case many employees are now stating that they are now been able to achieve a better balance between work and family life and companies state that they benefit by improved job performance.

    So can it be that the human resource management policy actually has a proven impact on innovation within a company? What do you think?

    Mikael Moeslund

  2. Mikael

    Thanks you for your comment. It is much appreciated.

    I agree with you entirely about the cultural differences between between how staff are managed. Geert Hofstede wrote about this extensively in his book Culture’s Consequences. Take a look at his website to see if you recognise your own national culture and that of the Swedes & Germans you know so well.

    Your comments about part-time working are very timely, especially in light of the Western world’s rapidly ageing population. Western countries will have to do much more to encourage the expansion of the workforce to include older people, women and non-natives (either in-country or out-sourced to their home countries). This will by necessity require different forms of working, including part-time working, that enable these people to participate in work fully. It will also require politicians to step up to the challenge to change how we organise, control and tax work.

    Perhaps the model economy we should be looking to in this case is the Netherlands, which with 72% of women in part-time employement (2002 data), has almost double the participation of Germany (40%), Denmark (31%) and Sweden (33%).

    Gruß aus Deutschland

    Graham Hill


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