Most Americans are disengaged at work

Virginia Backaitis
3 min readJan 26, 2023

According to a Gallup report released yesterday, less than one-third of American workers are actively engaged at work. The measure has decreased for the second year in a row; it went from 36% in 2020 to 32% in 2022. No wonder employees are quitting, “quiet quitting”, or simply don’t give a damn about their jobs.

This is a problem, here’s why.

“Engaged employees are involved in and enthusiastic about their work and workplace. Actively disengaged employees are disgruntled and disloyal because most of their workplace needs are unmet,” wrote Jim Harter, Ph.D., Chief Scientist of Workplace Management and Well-Being for Gallup’s workplace management practice.

Nearly all of the shift from engaged employees was into the “quiet quitter” (aka not engaged) category as opposed to actively disengaged.

Gallup surveys representative samples of the working population to gauge employee engagement in relation to various workplace factors such as profitability, productivity, customer service, retention, safety, and well-being. For the 2022 results, Gallup surveyed 15,000 part- and full-time American employees quarterly. The outcomes represent an average over the four quarters.

Additional findings:

1. In 2022, 18% of employees reported being actively disengaged, a four percentage point rise from 2020.

2. From the pre-pandemic record-high engagement ratio from 2019 to 2022, the engagement components that suffered the most were: clear expectations, a connection to the company’s mission or purpose, opportunities for learning and growth, opportunities for employees to do what they do best, and a sense of care at work. Gallup advised businesses to concentrate on making improvements in the latter, calling the absence of clear expectations “the most alarming.”

“This element is the most foundational of all engagement elements,” said Gallup. “A lack of role clarity makes all other engagement elements less impactful — employees cannot perform at a high level when they are confused as to what they are supposed to do.”

3. Women had a greater overall fall in engagement than did males. In comparison to workers 35 and older, younger employees (young millennials and Gen Zers) saw greater…