Monday, October 22, 2007

Disengaged but Happy

A new study of 90,000 workers in 18 countries, styled as representing the "Global Workforce," was announced yesterday by the consulting firm Towers Perrin. Although I have not yet seen the actual study, what is fascinating about the press release is that the study finds that "only 21 percent of employees are engaged in their work, while 38 percent are disenchanted or disengaged. [The study defined "engagement" as being willing to do more than is required to help their employers succeed and measured it by their responses to questions about their feelings about work, as well as their behavior.]"

Somewhat reassuredly, we're told that the study found that the engagement of an organization's workforce and their financial performance are positively correlated, but on a surprising note, the Associated Press reports: "Despite the high level of disengagement, many workers say they are happy in their employment situations, with 86 percent reporting that they like or love their jobs and 84 percent saying they enjoy challenging work." Senior leaders, rather than direct supervisors, were spotlighted as being particulary important for shaping these feelings of engagement or disengagement.

While this is not particularly surprising, given some findings that I've reported elsewhere on talent utilization, what is disturbing is that workers can be both disengaged and happy, at the same time. We'll have to wait until we can see the actual report before drawing too many conclusions, however.

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