Gallup Study Finds Loneliness on the Rise in Workplaces

June 13, 2024 thehrobserver-hrobserver-Gallupengagement

Gallup estimates that low employee engagement costs the global economy US$8.9 trillion, or 9% of global GDP, the organisation said in a recent report.

The study, State of the Global Workforce, shows that global employee engagement has stagnated, and overall employee well-being declined in 2023; explaining that the majority of the world’s employees continue to struggle at work and in life, with direct consequences for organizational productivity.

Loneliness and wellbeing trends among employees

The study revealed a concerning trend: one in five employees globally (20%) experience daily loneliness. This feeling is particularly prevalent among younger workers under 35. Furthermore, fully remote employees (25%) reported significantly higher loneliness than those who work on-site (16%).

This data coincides with another concerning finding which shows that there is a decline in employee wellbeing, particularly among younger workers. Gallup’s well-being measure, which considers present and future self-reflection, dropped from 35% to 34% globally in 2023. This decline was most pronounced among employees under 35.

The connection between work and wellbeing

The study shows that employees who dislike their jobs often report higher levels of daily stress, worry, and other negative emotions.

A result that highlights the importance of fostering positive work environments that address employee loneliness and promote wellbeing, especially for younger workers and those working remotely.

The toll of disengagement: Why employees turn against their work

A staggering 15% of the global workforce is actively disengaged, meaning they actively oppose their employer’s goals.This disengagement takes a significant toll on their well-being, Gallup explains. Compared to their engaged colleagues, these disengaged employees report lower overall well-being, less respect at work, and a lack of daily enjoyment.

Gallup research highlights a strong correlation between poor job markets and active disengagement. When employees feel there are few opportunities to find a new job, they are more likely to become stuck in a situation they dislike. This is further supported by the finding that actively disengaged workers are significantly more likely to report high daily stress levels.

Alternatively, there is no significant link between job market conditions and overall employee engagement. While a better job market might move disgruntled employees from active dislike to a more neutral state, it doesn’t necessarily inspire them. This suggests that economic factors primarily influence those already unhappy at work, offering them an escape route, rather than broadly motivating the workforce.

Gallup findings show that active disengagement seems to be a distinct phenomenon from general engagement. They add that improving economic conditions might alleviate some negativity, but it won’t necessarily create a truly engaged and inspired workforce.

The double-edged sword of management: Engagement and emotional strain

While the world’s managers’ report higher engagement and life satisfaction than non-managers, they face more stress. Managers benefit from higher pay, social status, a sense of influence, and strong support networks within their management teams. These factors likely contribute to their overall well-being.

However, this picture is far from perfect, the study finds. Managers experience significantly higher levels of stress, anger, sadness, and loneliness compared to their non-managerial peers. Despite leading the charge on employee well-being initiatives, they are often more likely to be looking for new jobs themselves.

These findings highlights a critical point that managers are not immune to mental health challenges. In fact, the emotional burden of leadership may necessitate even greater support. Initiatives promoting employee well-being must acknowledge this reality and prioritise the mental health of managers as well.


The HR Observer

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