September 7, 2023

TPL Insights #187 – Leverage Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2023 Report to Optimize Your Organizational Performance

By Rob Andrews

By Rob Andrews with italicized content from Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2023 Report

Gallup’s 2023 report featuring annual findings from the world’s largest ongoing study of the employee experience is rife with actionable data for leaders who are serious about building peak performance cultures. According to this year’s numbers, Gallup estimates that low employee engagement comes with a cost of $8.8 trillion (9% of global GDP) to global businesses. So, what can leaders do today to potentially save the world? Gallup has one clear answer: Change the way your people are managed.

This report has something in it for everyone. If you want to drastically increase your net profits, save the environment, combat global warming, increase shareholder value, or save the entire world, read this report carefully. A 9% improvement in global gross domestic product is enough to make the difference between success and failure for humanity. Poor management leads to lost customers and lost profits, but also leads to miserable lives. Gallup’s research into wellbeing at work finds that having a job you hate is worse than being unemployed – and those negative emotions end up at home, impacting relationships with family. If you’re not thriving at work, you’re unlikely to be thriving at life.

As the purpose driven founder of a professional services firm dedicated to enhancing the lives and effectiveness of our associates, clients and stakeholders, this report has profound meaning. It is the state of the global workplace that has driven us to adopt a radically different approach to executive search, in an industry that hasn’t innovated in 100 years. It is the state of the global workplace that has driven us to invest thousands of man-hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars into a study and corresponding leadership architecture based on the highest performing leaders on earth, each of whom has built a highly engaged workforce. It is also what has driven me back to graduate school, to pursue a second master’s degree in human dimensions of organizations at The University of Texas at Austin.

Jon Clifton, CEO of Gallup, explains where leaders should start:

Focus on Your Most Winnable Employees – Neary six in 10 employees are quietly quitting, but they are likely to become engaged with a few changes to your workplace.

Give Them a Better Manager – In the past three years, Gallup has used our best science to train over 14,000 managers to be effective coaches. Nice to 18 months later, their team’s engagement ranged from 8 to 18% higher.

By switching to proven, science-based management, organizations could change the course of the economy – and world history. It’s that important.

It has long been my hypothesis that workforce disengagement is a leadership problem, not a workforce problem. I often hear well-intended leaders disparage Gen Zers and millennials as being lazy, disinterested, and unproductive. Plainly stated, that has not been my experience. We have an incredibly diverse workforce, with employees that range in age from 22 to 72. 25% of our workforce is under 25 and are among the smartest, most engaged, most creative, and most productive workers with whom I have ever had the pleasure to interact. Mind you, our 55+ employees are also incredibly engaged and productive. It is the combination of multiple generations united under a common purpose, mission, and vision that makes it all work.

We chose to become one of Gallup’s first affiliates when we became convinced that their scientific approach to leadership would add significant value. Gallup research indicates that worker stress remained at a historic high – even as other negative emotions related to the COVID-19 pandemic subsided. As organizational leaders endeavor to navigate an uncertain economic outlook, their employees’ stress is impacting productivity and performance. Addressing these wellbeing concerns and improving engagement should be top priorities for the world’s political and business leaders who seek to make the most of the recovery.

One of the biggest benefits we’ve realized from our affiliation with Gallup has been the effective use of the CliftonStrengths assessment and coaching. Since Liz Townsend, our Senior Partner in charge of our Leadership Advisory, Coaching, and Culture Shaping practice received her certification, we’ve been able to craft career tracks for every employee, based largely on their strengths assessment and career aspirations. For years, we’ve wanted to provide clear career tracks but didn’t see a clear path to provide them. Unlike attitudinal attributes that change over time, innate strengths remain virtually unchanged, and understanding them is incredibly valuable in crafting medium- and long-term career paths.

As a decades-long student of psychometric assessments, I find my own assessment and the coaching that Liz has added to be nothing short of game changing. Understanding my innate strengths in the order of 1 to 34 gives me a clear understanding of who I am, where I naturally excel, and where my shortcomings reside. In addition, understanding that every major strength also brings along significant blind spots was another eyeopener for most of us. 31 million people have taken CliftonStrengths to thrive at work and outside of work. Our experience is that the assessment and related coaching has already dramatically improved our overall cultural climate and health.

Gallup’s regional analysis of the United States and Canada reveals that this region has the highest percentage of daily stress, the second highest percentage of employees who say that now is a good time to find a new job, and the highest percentage of female employees who experience high daily stress. Only 31% report that they are engaged, while 52% are quietly quitting and 17% are loudly quitting. Daily negative emotions within the region include stress at 52% and anger at 18%. 71% say that now is a good time to find a job, and 47% say that they intend to leave their job at their earliest opportunity.

“Quiet quitting” employees know what they would change about their workplace. In this report, we asked respondents: What would you change about your workplace to make it better?

Eighty-five percent of the responses offered by those considered to be quiet quitting — which comprises the majority of employees — were related to engagement or culture, pay and benefits, or wellbeing-work/life balance.

Engagement or Culture (41%) Pay and Benefits (28%) Wellbeing (16%)
For everyone to get recognized for their contributions Increase my salary because I work hard but the pay is not enough Communicating shifts well in advance would allow me to better organize my free time
I would like it if the managers were more approachable, and we could talk openly I would pay employees on time Less overtime
They should grant more autonomy in the work to stimulate everyone’s creativity Salaries must be proportional to qualifications and merit We don’t have a place to relax or to get together with colleagues for a coffee break
I would like to learn more things, but the work I do is quite repetitive I would like a monthly gas voucher for transport costs I would like to have longer breaks so I can eat without rushing
I just wish they respected me more A really good cafeteria/canteen available to all Set up a health clinic
Giving everyone a fair chance in getting promoted Fully subsidized childcare I want to have a break at work, it’s hard without a rest
Clearer goals and stronger guidance They should give rewards to employees for the excellent results achieved by the company Taking workers’ health and life seriously

Our experience over many years suggests that you don’t have to “boil the ocean” to move the needle and make significant advances. In our firm, we use a number of a vast array of resources we’ve collected. For your convenience, I have attached a resource guide, on which we regularly rely. We sincerely hope this piece has been helpful. Give us a shout, and let’s have a conversation around being thought partners.

Warmest Regards,