Unmotivated workforces cost $7 trillion, annually!

‘Employee engagement and workplace productivity are inextricably linked’ according to an article from Consultancy.uk

Engagement apparently means ‘absorbed in and enthusiastic about work’ – just don’t ask why the word engagement is preferred nowadays to the straightforward motivation !

Gallup have just issued a report entitled State of the Global Workforce covering employees in 155 countries (of the 192 or so in total) where they found:

  • Overall, just 15% were actively engaged in their jobs – this figure varies considerably across countries but never exceeds 40%
  • On the other hand, 18 % were ‘not merely disengaged but decidedly discouraged by their role’
  • Hence, the majority of the global workforce – 67% – are simply ‘not engaged’ i.e. ‘they’re not your worst performers but they are indifferent to your organisation – they give you their time but not their best effort nor their best ideas’
  • ‘Experts’ estimate the cost to the global economy in lost productivity to be $7 trillion, annually

Gallup then dig deeper, noting ‘considerable differences across regions that transcend industries’ which suggest to them that ‘managerial philosophies and workplace cultures play a compelling part in driving employee engagement’:

  • Apparently, employee engagement across the US and Canada stands at 31% while in Western Europe it’s just 10%
  • This difference is thought to be due to an American managerial culture that embraces individuality
  • Even within Western Europe, Gallup found marked differences between nations:
    • Norway tops the group with only a miserable 17% considered motivated and productive – and that win is due to their employees enjoying more flexibility
    • However, France, Italy and Spain clock less than 10% – because company cultures there are ‘more rigid’
  • And Australia and New Zealand do little better, clocking a mere 14%
  • Worst of all, however, are East Asian countries and their overworked employees:
    • China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong all clock a lowly 5-7%
    • Apparently, ‘a collective mentality that pushes individual needs aside is the chief culprit behind the region’s woeful lack of engagement’

Given such results, one has to agree with Gallup’s conclusion that ‘something is rotten in the (global) workplace’

They say huge profits are being ‘flushed down the sink by poor managerial practices’

However, such appalling statistics also offer a massive opportunity

Gallup go so far as to say they believe a target of engagement surpassing 70% is achievable given they have already helped companies pass this mark


  • Unmotivated workforces are a serious global problem – one which is much bigger than generally realised
  • There’s little point identifying nitpicking differences between nations here – average motivation levels are dreadful everywhere
  • And the cost of this to productivity and profit levels at both organisational and national levels will be enormous – whether Gallup’s experts’ estimate of $7trn is of  the right order matters little
  • Overall, the report is a savage indictment of management selection, training and practices worldwide
  • It should also be a very loud wake-up call to all involved in management education



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