42% of Least Engaged Workers are the Most Productive


The latest survey by Leadership IQ, a research company that specializes in employee engagement surveys and leadership training, finds that 42% of employees who do the worst job are the most engaged. Meanwhile, some of the best workers are the least engaged. Upon closer inspection, the reverse should hold true. However, according to the survey’s findings over one third of unproductive employees actually have a higher rate of engagement. Possible reasons that lead to this reversal are that high performers feel bored and are often under appreciated by managers and their work suffers as a result. Conversely, low performers can be deluded enough not to realize they are doing a shoddy job and take comfort in the security of a set in stone career while not really producing anything valuable.

The consequences of this survey are more dire for managers than employees. In order to retain top talent, the survey indicates that managers should enact a system of performance reviews and rewards in order to get the most out of their employees. By checking in on a monthly basis, they can assess whether employees are unchallenged, unhappy, or just plain burnt out. Conversely, with poor performing employees, managers should inform them that their work is not up to par and that if their performance continues to slump there will be consequences.

These results seems pretty obvious, but this is the first time they have actually been compiled to show a correlation between employee engagement and performance. According to the CEO of Leadership IQ, this is the first time that an HR company has combined these two sets of data. It shows that there is a growing disparity between management and employees. This leadership deficiency is a stark reminder that in order to retain top talent, employers must invoke a meritocratic system of rewards so that those who deliver are rewarded with promotions. This "meritocratic accountability," that CEO Mark Murphy refers to according to Forbes, will resurrect currently dysfunctional governments.

But how much of this falls on employees? Along with important critiques of employment surveys, Forbes is quick to make offer its top ten tips in order to empower employees to tackle workplace issues. While some of them may fall under the category of the obvious, others are far unattainable. Tips like "take breaks" and "learn your body’s natural rhythms" don't really apply when you are on a deadline and everyone around you seems to be glued to their seat, defiantly keeping their bladders and appetites  at bay. It’s hard to give into human tendencies when surrounded by the androids and computers surrounding you. Further advice like "don’t multi task" is laughable in the age of the four monitor work station not to mention phones and smart phones a buzzing. And finally the last of Forbes' tips to use "High-Performance" procrastination as a work tactic will most likely put you in the least productive category of workers, and therefore calling into question the entire study by Leadership IQ that says performance must change from the top down.

While Leadership IQ’s study is a wake up call for employers it also calls on those busy worker bees to stand at attention as well. In the new phase of working remotely and the extension of the 9-5 workweek, finding a balance between workplace demands and maximum output are still up for negotiation.