Disengagement is a Defining Mega-Trend in Today’s World

Posted on December 14, 2014 by

A disproportionate number of people are now joining the “lost generation” club – a group of individuals who are becoming more and more disengaged from their workplace and school environment, leading to as much as $4.7 trillion in lost productivity.

Disengagement is now a defining trend that has seeped its way into the modern world. Worse yet, the problem has corrupted even the higher circles of employees, such as those in leadership and managerial roles, leading to disengaged leaders who lead disengaged followers. The need for new methods to keep employees more connected with their workplace has reached a critical stratosphere, as the continued trend of downsizing, disenchantment and dissatisfaction with the workplace has spiraled out of proportion.

Why Is Defining The Problem of Disengagement So Important?

There are many ways to define the problem of disengagement, but it essentially indicates the degree to which a workplace believes in what it does, feels a sense of dedication toward the organization, and will willingly expend its best efforts to make the organization successful. The key word here is “dedication”, since dedicated employees are also bound to be satisfied and happy, while striving to bring the entire organization to a high level of success.

Lately, many top leaders have decided to pass on disengagement as a probing issue, since it’s difficult to put a face to it. In fact it has so many faces that it has permeated many other aspects of our society, including work, home, politics and religion. Our growing disconnection with these aspects carries significant emotional, societal and economical costs and directly affects our attitudes toward work and the chances of remaining loyal to our organizations. It can be thought of as the earliest possible predictor or red flag of bad things to come and if the warning signals are not brought to attention, many organizations are destined to fail.

Work Disengagement Is Not Sustainable

According to Gallup, as much as 70% of workers do not feel engaged with their work, while 18% feel that they are entirely disengaged. This is an alarming statistic, as other studies have shown that engaged employees work 57% harder at their organizations while a whopping 87% are unlikely to leave. Engaged workers also tend to bring in engaged customers, which directly translates to a boost in profits for the organization.

Even more alarming are the latest statistics from the overall labor market, in which just over 32% of the labor force does not participate in the working sectors of the total workforce, withdrawing entirely from the market. The Affordable Care Act alone is said to reduce as many as 2.5 million jobs, leading to greater number of long-term unemployed, disengaged workers. With more and more people slipping away from middle-class status, dropping numbers of stock ownership and service union memberships, there is further room for more concern.

The Problem Is Deeper Than We Initially Suspected 

The disengaged economy doesn’t only have its roots in the workplace, the problem has also spread its fangs into our personal lives. Family bonds have greatly weakened and more and more children are growing up with “half-sisters” and “half-brothers”. Over the last 50 years, divorce rates have doubled, while depression, loneliness and the incidence of single-parent families has skyrocketed.  The latter problem is of special concern, as studies have shown that the children born to such families experience lower incomes and higher levels of poverty throughout life (in comparison with those children who come from married families).

Even politics have not been able to overcome the effects of a disengaged economy. Our two main parties have become so extremely divided in their viewpoints that S&P was forced to downgrade the credit rating of the entire U.S. in return. If disengagement is not reduced soon, the problem will only get worse, as we witnessed by our president, who lost sight of his very own healthcare initiative.

Schools have also witnessed a 50% drop in graduation rates in as much as 34% of the nation’s largest schools, while a whopping 70% of workers would do anything to leave the corporate workplace.

Technology is a Double-Edged Sword

Sure, technology has given us the power to make rote tasks easier to handle, but it does come with a cost. The incredible variety of technological devices overtaking our lives is making a huge impact on the quality of our interpersonal relationships and human interactions overall. This has a direct effect on the attentions spans of workers, who are consistently distracted into having to answer telephones and emails instead of being focused on their work. This can take away as much as 28% of time away from the average worker’s day.

New methods of communicating such as with the use of social media are making people depressed and challenging the issue further. Teens are some of the worst people affected, who seem to be monitoring their cellphones endlessly, instead of enjoying quality dinner time with their families.

With so many challenges that have permeated the marketplace, it is troubling for many organizations to function as optimal levels. We have entered a vicious cycle in which children from chaotic families already adapt to the concept of disengagement in their schools and consequently go on to develop poor work ethics. This eventually backfires in the workplace and ultimately results in lost productivity for organizations and less tax revenue of governments, making it more difficult for governments and organization alike to balance their budget books due to a continuous, looming deficit and political gridlock.

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