Gallup’s latest report on employee engagement in the workplace found that only 30 percent of U.S. workers are engaged in their work. The definition of an engaged worker is one who is enthusiastic about their work and contributes to their organization in a “positive manner.” Engaged employees are emotionally connected to their organization and its goals.

The report, entitled State of the American Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for U.S. Business Leaders, looked into what leaders can do to better engage their employees and increase work performance. The 30 percent worker engagement is a slight increase from the 28 percent documented by Gallup in 2010.

According to Gallup’s measurement, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged workers is “roughly 2-to-1.” A majority of employees (52 percent) are “not engaged” in their work, and 18 percent are “actively disengaged.” Workers who are disengaged in their job are less productive than they could be if their companies did a better job engaging them. The high degree of disengagement in the American workplace costs the country a lot of money in lost productivity — between $450 billion and $550 billion in Gallup’s estimate.

Job security has proven to be a big factor in employee engagement. Employees who are actively disengaged are three times more likely than an engaged employee to work at an organization that is currently letting people go. By contrast, employees who work in organizations that are expanding their workforce enjoy better job security and experience more engagement on the job. Gallup found that 43 percent of the employees at job-creating companies were actively engaged in their work.

Employees with college degrees had reportedly lower levels of active disengagement than those without degrees. The report suggested that the higher education gives workers more employment options, which enables them to be more selective in their job choices.

Gallup said that organizations cannot simply hire more college graduates, however, and hope they will be automatically engaged with the work. Instead, managers must acknowledge the important role they play in worker engagement and strive to get their workers more engaged. It advised managers to learn more about their individual employees and explore different types of engagement strategies to find out what works best.

Kim Austin, a Marketing Manager at Cisco, argued that employers can do a better job engaging workers by making use of collaborative technology. For example, some workers might be more engaged with their jobs if they were able to achieve a better work/life balance. Employers could support life balance and enhance worker engagement by allowing employees to do some of their work remotely.

The use of video training is another way to increase worker engagement and increase productivity. Video training helps employees maintain and increase their job skills remotely. According to research by the Aberdeen Group, video-enabled companies experienced a 7.7 percent reduction in voluntary employee turnover and four percent increase in productivity in 2011. Employers can increase the engagement and productivity of their employees by taking advantage of the latest technologies.

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