Is your Workforce Engaged? A Survey of Employee Happiness

Over the decades, management theorists and organizational psychologists alike have theorized a connection between employee engagement and business performance. With more research, results began to confirm a positive correlation between engagement and  performance (e.g., Judge et al., 2001; Harter et al., 2002). In other words, the results showed that individuals and business units which have higher employee engagement tend to outperform those whose level of enagement is low.

So if employee engagement and performance are so intricately linked, then executives everywhere must be rallying to make employee engagement a priority, right? Wrong. A recent Gallup poll shows that a whopping 87% of American employees report low engagement at work. Not only does this mean that the vast majority of us are unsatisfied, uninvolved, and apathetic about our jobs, it also suggests that overall performance could be taking an unnecessary hit. 

To further explore this trend of low engagement, we recently conducted a survey that asked 70 LinkedIn users, of various industries and seniority, how happy they were at work. Happiness, or satisfaction with one’s job, has been identified as a major componenet engagement (e.g., Harter et al., 2002). In order to examine the link between job satisfaction and performance, we also asked how many hours these employees spent actively working during an average workday. We also investigated some leading distractors in the workplace (e.g., social media, texting, chatting, etc) and recorded the age of our respondents. 

 Our findings were astounding, but in line with the Gallup study. Overall, our results showed that 56.6% of our respondents reported being unhappy, very unhappy, or feeling indifferent about their jobs (see Figure 1). 

In accordance with past work (e.g.,Judge et al., 2001; Harter et al., 2002) we found a positive correlation between happiness level and hours worked (r = .35). As Figure 2 shows, a model predicting job happiness from the number of hours actively spent working each day, showed that employees actively working five or more hours per day tended to be significantly happier, on average, than employees who worked less one to five hours a day (ß5-7 =1.51, p5-7 < 0.001; ß7-8=2.29, p7-8 < 0.001). 

We also examined what  participants did with the time when they weren’t working. The largest distractors we identified were social media and news, which accounted for 65.2% and 52.2% of total distractions respectively (Figure 3). Interestingly, younger employees reported a larger variety of distractions than compared to older employees (Figure 4)-- a which may corroborate the image of the social media addicted millenial. 


Overall, there are many factors that could lead to low job satisfaction, and thus low engagement, including poor onboarding processes, bad communication as well as lack of mentorship, feedback, or empowerment. Failure to share a vision or to provide adequate training and development could also drive low satisfaction. No matter what the cause, the correlation between engagement and performance beckons the question, how is low engagement threatening your organization’s performance? How could a workforce of engageed and focused employees drive success? Improving job satisfaction, and thus employee engagement, could be a powerful tool for boosting a range of performance indicators from financials to customer loyalty, employer brand, and even turnover. One of the most powerful ways to leverage employee engagement is to prioritize job satisfaction today. 


Gregory Pontrelli is President/CEO & Chief Talent Strategist at Lausanne Business Solutions, a comprehensive talent management consultancy. Lausanne helps organizations recruit top talent, increase employee engagement, while optimizing performance, and develop individuals and teams. You can like Lausanne Business Solutions on facebook or follow us on twitter @lausanneconnect,  instagram@lausannesolutions, and also follow Greg on twitter@gregpontrelli.