Happiness Check: How Engaged are your Employees?

Startegic Consulting Firm Gallup's annual State of the Global Workplace report shows that a mere nine per cent of employees in India are really "engaged" in their jobs. How does this disenchantment at the workplace reflect on overall productivity, and what can firms do to combat it? Read on to find out.

According to strategic consulting firm Gallup’s annual State of the Global Workplace Report, only nine per cent of employees in India are really “engaged” in their jobs. What’s worse, 31 per cent are “actively disengaged”. The report describes the “actively disengaged” sentiment to be potentially hostile to their organisations. When compared to the global average, India does badly on both counts—the low number of the engaged, and the high number of the actively disengaged. The global average of this study—conducted among the 142 countries included—found 13 per cent of employees to be engaged in their jobs, 63 per cent not engaged and 24 per cent to be actively disengaged. However, there is a considerable variation in engagement levels by education level and job type. Among professional, managerial, sales, service, and administrative job types, engagement rates were all above 10 per cent, while they fell below that threshold among job types that involve physical work such as installation or repair, construction or mining, and manufacturing or production.


The last two of these job types have extremely high proportions of actively disengaged employees in India: 44 per cent of construction and mining workers are actively disengaged, as are 32 per cent of manufacturing and production workers. Employee engagement tends to be somewhat lower across countries among these industries because it is typical of traditional management to put processes ahead of people. As the Gallup data shows, disengaged Indian workers are more likely to have experienced anger and stress the day before the survey and less likely to say they were treated with respect.

Several economists have said that India needs to urgently expand its manufacturing base if it wants a broad-based development and provide enough jobs for the 250 million young people who will soon enter the workforce. Expanding the manufacturing base entails making India’s regulatory environment more hospitable to manufacturers. Also, several structural problems need to be tackled, including discrepancies between the salaries of permanent workers and the large number of temporary contract workers in many industries.

One of the challenges facing India’s manufacturing sector is to move more informal-sector employees to larger formal- sector businesses, which tend to be more efficient because they reap economies of scale and have greater access to credit from formal financial institutions. Larger manufacturing firms should seek to help employees in these workplaces feel respected by their managers and engaged in their jobs. Manufacturing managers can do a lot to close the communication gap with employees and give them a greater sense of psychological commitment, and feeling of belongingness towards their work.

Engaging industrial employees
Considering the high degree of routine that typically characterises jobs in manufacturing and construction, managers may need to work hard to establish individualised feedback and recognition practices among workers. Managers in industrial sectors may also need to go to greater lengths to guarantee that all employees have regular opportunities to express their opinions about working conditions and their ideas for improvement. In manufacturing and construction workplaces, where safety issues are often a concern, such communication is essential not only for helping employees feel respected, but also for reducing their risk of injury on the job. Gallup consultants suggest that a better performance management system that focuses on developing the right people according to their unique talents instead of relying merely on job descriptions and ratings can help increase employee engagement levels in these industries.


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