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Good News in Gallup Survey: Engagement Is Up, But Still Not Great

The latest study suggests engagement is up because low unemployment gives employees more choices and because companies are doing a better job of recognizing people and addressing work-life issues.
The percentage of U.S. workers engaged in their work has reached an all-time high of 34%, tying the highest level since Gallup began tracking engagement in 2000. The level of actively-disengaged employees is now down to 13%, vs.16.5% last year. That still leaves 53% of all workers in between the two groups, essentially not engaged or disengaged. According to Gallup, these workers “may be generally satisfied but are not cognitively and emotionally connected to their work and workplace; they will usually show up to work and do the minimum required but will quickly leave their company for a slightly better offer.”

According to Gallup, “over nearly two decades, the annual percentage of engaged U.S. workers has ranged from a low of 26% in 2000 and 2005 to the recent six-month high of 34% in 2018. On average, 30% of employees have been engaged at work during the past 18 years. The percentage of actively disengaged workers has ranged from a high of 20% in 2007 and 2008, immediately before and during the heart of the recent U.S. recession, to the current low of 13%. On average, 17% of U.S. workers have been actively disengaged over the 18 years of tracking.” 
Gallup asserts that “organizations that are the best in engaging their employees achieve earnings-per-share growth that is more than four times that of their competitors. Compared with business units in the bottom quartile, those in the top quartile of engagement realize substantially better customer engagement, higher productivity, better retention, fewer accidents and 21% higher profitability. Engaged workers also report better health outcomes.”
Gallup largely attributes the improvement to low levels of unemployment. “Previous Gallup data suggest that being actively disengaged is more highly associated with economic changes than being engaged is. The improved economy in recent years has given workers more confidence and therefore more choice in where they work, so they don’t have to tolerate poor working conditions.” The job security hypothesis is further supported by Gallup's annual workplace trends, which show significantly increasing satisfaction with job security from 2014 to 2018, along with significantly increasing percentages who say now is a good time to find a quality job.
The study also found “slight increases in workers' satisfaction with tangible workplace benefits such as the amount of vacation time they receive, their company's retirement plan and their pay. Some benefits are associated with engagement such as flex time, along with performance and pay plans that improve autonomy. But benefits and perks alone won't improve engagement in the long term,” the company states. 
The study also finds “increases in recent years in satisfaction with recognition received for work accomplishments, relationships with coworkers, and supervisors. These likely provide the best explanation for improvements in the percentage of engaged employees. Gallup organizational research indicates that at least 70% of the variance in team engagement is explained by the quality of the manager or team leader.”
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Master the Principles of Enterprise Engagement to Achieve Organizational Goals and Enhance Your Career
  • Profit from a new systematic approach to engagement to enhance your organization’s brand equity; increase sales, productivity, quality, innovation, and safety, and reduce risks.
  • Achieve ISO 10018 Quality People Management Certification to demonstrate your organization’s strategic commitment to people to your customers, employees, distribution partners, vendors, communities, investors, and regulators.
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In Print: Enterprise Engagement: The Roadmap 4th Edition, How to Achieve Organizational Results Through People and Quality for ISO 10018 Certification. 
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Plus: 10-minute short course: click here for a 10-minute introduction to Enterprise Engagement and ISO standards on
Services: The International Center for Enterprise Engagement at, offering: ISO 10018 certification for employers, solution providers, and Enterprise Engagement technology platforms; Human Resources and Human Capital audits for organizations seeking to benchmark their practices and related Advisory services for the hospitality field.
The Engagement Agency at, offering: complete support services for employers, solution providers, and technology firms seeking to profit from formal engagement practices for themselves or their clients, including Brand and Capability audits for solution providers to make sure their products and services are up to date.
C-Suite Advisory Service—Education of boards, investors, and C-suite executives on the economics, framework, and implementation processes of Enterprise Engagement. 
Speakers Bureau—Select the right speaker on any aspect of engagement for your next event.
Mergers and Acquisitions. The Engagement Agency’s Mergers and Acquisition group is aware of multiple companies seeking to purchase firms in the engagement field. Contact Michael Mazer in confidence if your company is potentially for sale at 303-320-3777. 
Enterprise Engagement Benchmark Tools: The Enterprise Engagement Alliance offers three tools to help organizations profit from Engagement. Click here to access the tools.
• ROI of Engagement Calculator. Use this tool to determine the potential return-on-investment of an engagement strategy. 
• EE Benchmark Indicator. Confidentially benchmark your organization’s Enterprise Engagement practices against organizations and best practices. 
• Compare Your Company’s Level of Engagement. Quickly compare your organization’s level of engagement to those of others based on the same criteria as the EEA’s Engaged Company Stock Index.
• Gauge Your Personal Level of Engagement. This survey, donated by Horsepower, enables individuals to gauge their own personal levels of engagement.
For more information, contact Bruce Bolger at, 914-591-7600, ext. 230.
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