By Trevor Wilson, Author and Global Equity Strategist, TWI Inc.
In the early ’80s there was a startling statistic being bantered around that frightened me. The stat was that over 90 percent of people surveyed actually hated their job. I was in my undergraduate studies at university at the time and promised myself I would never enter that 90 percent group. My plan was to apply for graduate school and stay there until I figured out what I really wanted to do. After a few years I came to the end of my studies and was forced to enter full-time work. Imagine my horror when I landed a job that I absolutely hated and started working for what we call today a “boss-hole.” In other words, I wound up in the heart of the 90 percent group.
I am convinced that today, with universal access to information about available jobs thanks to the internet and the lower social stigma associated with frequent job changes, the percentage of people who hate their job has declined significantly. However I am sure that the percentage of people who hate their jobs is still above half of all workers.
Gallup Poll recently published annual employee engagement figures. The research shows that after over a decade of relatively stable employee engagement numbers something happened. The percentage of engaged employees went down from the usual 30 percent to only 10 percent. Accordingly, the percentage of employees not engaged or actively disengaged increased to a disturbing 71 percent. Actively disengaged refers to employees who are physically present but psychologically absent. The actively disengaged are those who are not only unhappy with their work situation, but insist on sharing this unhappiness with their colleagues. A friend of mine who is a living case study of a disengaged worker has a coffee cup on his desk which reads “some days the best thing about my job is that the chair spins.”
The new management paradigm of human equity has something to say about reducing disengagement rather than simply reducing the disengaged. As the first approach to management based on a positive psychology template, human equity can substantially improve employee engagement and significantly reduce disengagement. Can you imagine the impact of a 40 percent increase in the number of actively engaged people at work, combined with a substantial decrease in the number of actively disengaged employees?
How would that change the average day at work?
In 1996 Wilson started TWI Inc. to specialize in the area of equity and diversity as a business issue. In the same year, Wilson published his groundbreaking book, Diversity at Work: The Business Case for Equity.