April 30, 2019

America’s Engagement Epidemic

Our Challenge and Opportunity

90,000 Hours + 150 Million

These two numbers give us an accurate picture of the scale and scope of our modern workforce. 

The average American worker will work 90,000 hours over the span of their life from the age of 18 – 67. Within those working years, roughly 35% of your life will be spent at work, and that’s only calculated at 40-hour workweeks…

There are roughly 150 million individuals in the current American workforce who will end up working 90,000 hours or more over their lifetime. Just to give you perspective, 150 million is the total population of France and Germany combined. 

Everyday we hear that the workforce is expanding, the economy is booming, wages are increasing and unemployment is low. We have nothing to worry about right? 


While all the statements above are true, we have a much greater problem that lurks beneath the facade of wage growth and low unemployment rates. Using data collected from more than 195,600 U.S. employees, and more than 31 million respondents, Gallup’s most recent study, The State of the American Workforce, accurately describes the epidemic of low engagement we are experiencing across our workforce. 

Only 33% of the American workforce is considered to be engaged in their work. These individuals are top performers who practice a growth mindset, are eager to contribute and take initiative regularly. 

This group wakes up every day excited about their work and are fulfilled by what they do. Their engagement in their work fosters engagement in all other spheres of their life; with their family, friends, children, and community.

51% of the American workforce is currently disengaged in their work. These individuals are “sleepwalkers'” who put in their time but are mentally and emotionally disengaged from their work. This group is highly influenceable, and with the right approach, can be flipped into a highly engaged worker. On the flipside, if this group is not addressed, they can be pulled down into being an actively disengaged worker. 

These individuals wake up everyday complacent about the day ahead of them, and this disengagement in their work creates disengagement in all other spheres of their life; with their family, friends, children and community.

16% of the American workforce is not only disengaged, but are actively undermining the organizations, companies and teams they work for. This group can easily undermine the good work being done by an organization, and they can sow seeds of disengagement across the employee base. 

These individuals wake up every day frustrated and angry about the day ahead of them, and this resentment in their work creates detachment in all other spheres of their life; with their family, friends, children and community.

These numbers ring true regardless of age, education level, size of the company, type of work, industry or region of the united states.

Imagine the impact when 100 million individuals are going home everyday unfulfilled by the hours they spent that day. This lack of engagement costs companies millions of dollars each year in lost productivity, personnel issues, and a host of other negative impacts.

This is the most important conversation for any leader, manager, or employee who desires to love their work and see their teams and organizations thrive. We all have an opportunity to help realize a better future, but to do so, we are going to have to think radically different from the leadership and business principles that got us to where we are today. 

Join us over the next few weeks as we explore the challenge and opportunity we have with America’s Engagement Epidemic. We will debunk common myths, define engagement, and lay out the roadmap to creating a culture of high engagement. 


If you want to discuss these ideas in more detail, reach out for a conversation!