Mind of the Manager

What works and what doesn't in the workplace

New Data Shows Depth of Employee Discontent

Study makes one wonder: Are we choosing the right people for management?

Were I still in management and told that less than one-quarter of my non-management employees were “engaged” and working fully productively, I would be, shall we say… concerned. That finding is a key piece of new data from an employee engagement study by Dale Carnegie Training.

According to national research fielded in 2012 on 1500 employees aged 18 to 61+:

- Only 23% of non-management workers are engaged. For management-level employees the figure is 45%. The higher number is expected, as managers are naturally higher paid and more invested in an organization’s success.

- 69% of disengaged employees would leave their current job for just a 5 percent pay increase. Also, disengaged employees are more than twice as likely to leave for any amount of pay increase, compared to employees who are engaged.

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- 80% of employees who felt “very dissatisfied” with their immediate supervisor were “disengaged.” This is fully consistent with the widely accepted notion that an employee’s relationship with his or her direct manager is crucial in influencing engagement level, another finding of the study.

- 61% of employees who have confidence in their senior leadership and feel they’re moving the organization in the right direction are engaged. This underscores the importance of perceptions of senior leaders as well, beyond just front-line management.

All considered, it’s not a pretty picture, when one considers that a 23% engagement level means that less than 1 in 4 of the employees who are doing the bulk of actual day-to-day (i.e. non-management) work is performing at full productivity.

If I were a CEO or head of HR who was given these kind of numbers about my workforce, I’d have quite a few questions:

Are we choosing the wrong people for management?

Are we choosing the right people but not giving them the right training?

Are we burning out employees by continually asking them to do more with less?

Are we burning out employees through multiple rounds of layoffs, reorgs, benefit cuts and various other stressors?

Those are just the questions I’d begin with… and I’d want fast meaningful answers.

This article first appeared at Forbes.com.

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Victor Lipman recently retired from the corporate world after 25 years with one of America's largest life insurance companies. He writes about management from a psychological perspective.

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