Gallup's State of the Global Workplace: 79% of employees are not engaged

Gallup: 79% of employees are not engaged

We’ve all experienced stress at work in some form or another, yet according to the latest Gallup report, global workplace stress has never been higher. With numbers that top those reported in 2020 (which previously set records for the percentage of employees who reported frequent feelings of stress) what can your organisation learn from this year’s State of the Global Workplace report?

Gallup’s established, 12-question survey explores workplace engagement on a global level through simple, universal questions; presenting the collective voice of the global employee via the world’s largest ongoing employee satisfaction survey. In 2022, engagement figures are overwhelmingly pessimistic. The report found that 60% of employees worldwide are not engaged and as many as 19% are ‘actively disengaged’. Consequently, this lacklustre engagement causes negative impacts on the wider team and organization.

The good news: effective leadership can make a world of difference.


Lack of involvement impacts atmosphere and team performance

Work can’t always be fun, Gallup writes. If you have a demanding job then stress and worry are part of it, but those negative emotions should be side effects, not form the basis of your working life. Yet, in 2022, this is the case for no less than 19% of employees worldwide who are ‘actively disengaged’; defined as ‘psychologically unattached to their work and company’ and negatively impacting colleagues. This lack of employee engagement ultimately affects both the working atmosphere and team performance. Furthermore, Gallup found that in Germany, a staggering 51% of these ‘actively disengaged’ employees admitted that job stress causes them to behave unpleasantly towards loved ones. This not only demonstrates the complexities of emotionally compartmentalizing work and life but also that it is impossible to leave negative emotions in the workplace. It’s not quite as simple as ‘leaving it at the office’, especially now the lines between the ‘office’ and ‘home’ are blurred.

With the adoption of new ways of working, there is a topical emphasis on movements to attain that elusive ‘work/life balance’, such as the implementation of four-day work weeks and increased moves towards expanding hybrid and remote working. However, Gallup’s research demonstrates that ‘balance’ is not clear-cut. ‘Imbalance’ is not the sole cause of workplace unhappiness, it is what happens in the workplace that causes these feelings of employee disconnect and ‘disengagement’. So, how can you ensure your employees stay actively engaged in your organization?

The main causes of burnout correlates directly with ineffective managership

Gallup’s research into employee burnout found five key causes:

  1. Unfair treatment within the workplace
  2. An unmanageable workload
  3. Unclear communication from managers
  4. Lack of managerial support
  5. An unreasonable time pressure for task completion

These five causes all have one common denominator: managership. Gallup found that the influence of the manager within the workplace is so great that they can predict as much as ‘70% of the variance in team engagement’ is directly related to employees’ perceived working relationship with their boss. Managers can make or break teams, so effective managership is paramount to boosting employee engagement.


“ As much as 70% of the variance in team engagement is directly related to employee’s perceived working relationship with their boss”


The obvious solution: better managers…

With these findings in mind, the solution for increased employee engagement is obvious: better managers. Leaders need to listen, coach and collaborate. They need to support their colleagues in their learning and growth journey, ensure their efforts are recognized and guarantee their team feels genuinely cared for. It is in these nurtured environments that workers thrive.

While for the majority of global workers, this work environment may seem like a distant dream, Gallup found that the 21% of workers who experience this engaged work-life reality suffer from stress, worry, and pain at ‘half the rate’ of workers who were ‘actively disengaged’. Effective and empathetic managership won’t only result in a more engaged, uplifting team atmosphere but also produce real business benefits. It was found that businesses with engaged workers experienced a 23% higher profit than their counterparts with reduced employee engagement, as well as seeing significantly less absenteeism and turnover. In short, wellbeing at work is mutually beneficial for all parties.


Organizations should prioritize employee wellbeing

Gallup also found that engagement and wellbeing are intrinsically linked and closely interact with each other in the workplace. How people experience work influences other aspects of their life and vice versa- as we’ve all experienced. The report identified an alarming trend where those who routinely experience high levels of burnout within their job struggle to be present for their families, and 23% even risk ending up in the emergency room. Additionally, general wellbeing influences work life. Gallup found that employees who are engaged at work but not ‘thriving’ are 61% more likely to experience ongoing burnout than their colleagues who are both engaged and thriving.

As a result, organizations should consider the wellbeing of their workforce as crucial. Look at the ‘whole person’ and not just the employee, Gallup writes. When organizations prioritize workplace wellbeing, the results not only yield productive organizations but also people, their families, and society. Read our tips on how to lead with empathy here.


How increasing employee self-awareness can result in an engaged workforce

At Insights, we encourage individuals to look at their ‘whole’ selves by harnessing the power of self-awareness. Awareness of self not only helps people play into their strengths and understand their preferences, but also encourages an appreciation for others’ preferences. This enhances each individual’s ability to communicate and connect through a sense of shared understanding, and it is this shared understanding that can aid in an increase in employee engagement, and allow leaders to connect more empathetically with team members.

It is the role of leaders and the wider organization to collectively create and nurture an environment that supports workforce engagement. These positive environments create feelings of trust and result in workers feeling supported, safe and proud to be part of the company they work for. Through increased self-awareness, leaders can not only adjust their management style to become the effective leaders their people need, but employees can also understand their own engagement needs and take responsibility to ensure they are met.

Better leadership starts with more self-insight. Do you want to know how your team tick? Insights is happy to help.