State of the American Workplace

Today, the old ways of running a workplace -- annual reviews, forced rankings, outdated competencies -- don't get the intended results. Leaders must gain scientific insight into employees' evolving wants and needs and learn how to build an exceptional workplace.

State of the American Workplace delivers unprecedented analytics and advice on the changing workplace, using data collected from more than 195,600 U.S. employees via the Gallup Panel and Gallup Daily tracking in 2015 and 2016, more than 31 million respondents through Client Database, and insight from advising leading Fortune 1000 companies. This iteration builds upon the last State of the American Workplace report, released in 2013.

State of the American Workplace helps leaders like you:

  • design and deliver a compelling and authentic employer brand
  • take employee engagement from a survey to a cultural pillar that improves performance
  • approach performance management in ways that motivate employees
  • offer benefits and perks that influence attraction and retention
  • enable people to work successfully from locations besides the office
  • construct office environments that honor privacy while encouraging collaboration
  • improve clarity and communication for employees who work on multiple teams

The vast majority of U.S. workers, 70%, are "not engaged" or "actively disengaged" at work, meaning they are emotionally disconnected from their workplace and are less likely to be productive. Actively disengaged employees alone cost the U.S. between $450 billion to $550 billion each year in lost productivity, and are more likely than engaged employees to steal from their companies, negatively influence their coworkers, miss workdays, and drive customers away.

These findings are from the State of the American Workplace. This new report reveals the trend in U.S. employee engagement, the impact of engagement on organizational and individual performance, information about how companies can accelerate employee engagement, and insights into engagement across different segments of the U.S. working population.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Work units in the top 25% of Gallup's employee engagement database have significantly higher productivity, profitability, and customer ratings, less turnover and absenteeism, and fewer safety incidents than those in the bottom 25%.
  • Managers who focus on their employees' strengths can practically eliminate active disengagement and double the average of U.S. workers who are engaged nationwide.
  • The generations at the beginning and approaching the end of their careers tend to be more engaged than those in the middle of their careers.
  • Although certain policies such as hours worked, flextime, and vacation time do relate to employee well-being, engagement levels in the work environment eclipse corporate policies.
  • Despite not having a manager nearby to monitor their productivity, remote workers actually log more hours at their primary job than do their on-site counterparts.
  • Only 41% of employees felt that they know what their company stands for and what makes its brand different from its competitors' brands.
  • Engagement levels among service employees -- those workers who are often on the front line serving customers -- are among the lowest of any occupation Gallup measured and have declined in recent years, while engagement for every other job category increased.

America's Coming Workplace: Home Alone

The trend of American employees working remotely continues to grow, according to report.

In 2012, data showed that 39% of employees worked remotely in some capacity, meaning they spent at least some of their time working in a location different from that of their coworkers. In 2016, that number grew by four percentage points to 43%.

But it's not just the percentage of employees working remotely that has increased: Employees who work off-site are also spending more of their time doing so.

In 2012, 24% of employees were spending 80% or more of their time working remotely. In 2016, 31% were found to be doing the same. The number of employees working remotely 40% to 80% of the time has also slightly increased, while the number of employees working less than 20% of the time remotely has decreased.

Remote Working Increasing Across Industries

Remote working is also on the upswing across most industries we has studied. The finance, insurance and real estate industries experienced the greatest surge in time spent remote working, followed by the manufacturing and construction, transportation, and retail industries. The science, engineering and architecture; education, training and library; and community and social services industries are on the other end of this trend. While employees in these fields are still spending time working remotely, a smaller percentage are doing so today compared with a few years ago.

As employees increasingly become -- or want to become -- remote workers, leaders and managers may worry about the overall effect of remote working on individual, team and organizational performance. In recent years, companies including Yahoo, Best Buy and Bank of America have garnered attention for choosing to end or scale back their work-from-home programs. IBM has also reportedly eliminated remote work for marketing, engineering and other roles. In each case, leaders cited the need to improve teamwork, collaboration and communication as reasons for the change.

Remote working doesn't make sense for all companies or roles. Leaders need to consider the demands of the job and how time spent remotely could positively or negatively affect an employee's ability to deliver on business outcomes and customer needs.

To guide these insights, we examined employee engagement, perceptions of performance and workday experiences based on the percentage of time employees work away from their coworkers. We found that remote working can positively influence employee engagement and performance, though the gains vary for some roles and are most noticeable when employees maintain some connection to the company's offices.

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