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Press Release

Only One in Three Employees Engaged

24 April 2008

A new report, The State of Employee Engagement 2008, issued by global consultants BlessingWhite, has found that fewer than one in three North American workers are fully engaged. Moreover, 19% are completely disengaged, and a further 13% are disillusioned and at risk for becoming disengaged.

Based on a survey of more than 7,500 employees and interviews with 40 human resource and line managers on four continents, the study identified five levels of employee engagement in the workforce.

There is a strong correlation between engagement and retention, said BlessingWhite CEO Christopher Rice. “For instance, we found that 85% of engaged employees plan to stay with their company during the year ahead. The study underlines the observation that engaged employees stay for what they give, while disengaged employees stay for what they get.”

Among the key findings were:

  • There were no significant differences in engagement levels of men or women.

  • Sectors with the largest number of engaged employees are HR consulting/training (46%), energy/utilities (40%), legal & business services (34%) and association/not-for-profit 34%).

  • Industries with the fewest engaged are academia/higher education (23%), high technology (24%), chemicals (24%), retail (24%) and government (25%).

  • Among functions, HR and sales departments have the most engaged (36% each), and finance and IT have the least (23% and 22% respectively).

  • Virtual employees are slightly more engaged than their peers who work with their entire team present (34% vs. 28%).

  • Engagement levels decrease somewhat as workforce size increases, with 32% of respondents from organizations of 1-999 employees compared with 25% in firms of more than 10,000 fully engaged.
The study identified five levels of employee engagement in North America:

Engaged: 29% These employees are contributing fully to the success of the organization and find great satisfaction in their work. They bring discretionary effort and initiative.

Almost Engaged: 27% A critical group, these employees are among the high performers and are reasonably satisfied with their job. Organizations should invest in them because they are highly employable and they have the shortest distance to travel to reach full engagement.

Honeymooners or Hamsters: 12% Honeymooners are new to the organization or their role and have yet to become fully productive. Hamsters may be working hard, but are in effect spinning their wheels, focused on the wrong things, and contributing little to the success of the organization.

Crash & Burners: 13% “Crash & Burners” are disillusioned and potentially exhausted. They are top producers who are not satisfying their personal definition of success and satisfaction. Sometimes bitterly vocal, these workers, if left alone, may slip into disengagement and bring down those around them.

Disengaged: 19% Disengaged employees are the most disconnected to organizational priorities and are not getting what they need from work. If left alone, people in this group are likely to collect a paycheck and enjoy favorable job conditions but contribute minimally. Some disengaged will leave, but more likely they will just talk about leaving.

Rice believes that aligning employees’ values and aspirations with those of the company is the best method for achieving sustainable employee engagement. “While organizations are keen to maximize the contribution of each individual toward corporate imperatives and the metrics, individual employees need to find purpose and satisfaction in their work.”

Intended for both human resources executives and line managers, the report focuses on how leaders at all levels can nurture employee engagement. Two reports are available:

  • A complimentary North American overview, which can be accessed by emailing info@bwinc.com.

  • A comprehensive global report, which can be purchased for $500. Email info@bwinc.com to order.
Of the 7,508 respondents surveyed between December 2007 and February 2008, 44% reside in North America, 32% in India, 9% in Europe, 6% in Southeast Asia (including Australia) and 3% in China.

BlessingWhite is a global consulting firm dedicated to creating sustainable high-performance organizations. Based in Princeton, NJ, with locations in London, Chicago, San Francisco and Melbourne, the firm has worked with almost three million professionals in thousands of organizations since its founding in 1973. For more information go to: www.blessingwhite.com.

Contact: Mary Ann Masarech, Director Research & Marketing, 203-368-6694, maryannm@bwinc.com

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