A Gallup study released last week on the State of the American Workplace reported that 70% of American workers are disengaged in their jobs. An extraordinary number of these people convey that they hate going to work for their employers. Here we are, ostensibly emerging at long last from The Great Recession, and yet, this is how a frightening majority of employed individuals are reported to feel.
Try it on yourself.
Here is the twelve question survey Gallup used to measure employee engagement, from Page 19 of the published report:
1) I know what is expected of me at work.
2) I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
3) At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
4) In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
5) My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
6) There is someone at work who encourages my development.
7) At work, my opinions seem to count.
8) The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
9) My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
10) I have a best friend at work.
11) In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
12) This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.
I will be writing a good deal more about my thoughts on this in the coming weeks. In fact, as mentioned often here I have written a novel on this theme that will be published this fall (October 2013) by The Story Plant. Before I offer some of my opinions on the topic in a subsequent post, I wanted you to have the opportunity to ask yourselves the Gallup poll questions. Be honest, internalize the answers over some quiet time, think about your own sense of employee morale, then draw your own conclusions.
Are you in the 70%? I sure hope not. If you are disengaged, try to boil it down to the essence of what is eating at you. I’m guessing you already know.
Wow, 70%. Imagine how much creativity, passion, energy, and enthusiasm is waiting to be unleashed in all that humanity. Now there’s a problem that’s worth solving. And you know what, it is completely solvable, if that becomes a shared value.
What’s the solution?
Start with the questions.
Ken, you’ve tweaked (in a non-drug sense) my interest with this subject. I consider it one of the most important issues in human existence. Central to this issue is your comment, “Imagine how much creativity …is waiting to be unleashed in all that humanity.”
I’m not surprised with the results of the Gallup Poll. I considered the questions, but, as with many surveys, had difficulty with the poll itself. To wit, I don’t do well with yes or no answers, as there are many degrees implicit within the questions. And the result that 70% are disengaged with their jobs, again, does not reflect what level of disengagement. Also, being retired, I would have to project my responses onto a previous job, and that would beg, “Which job?”. Having said that, I intuit the poll results to be obvious, and here’s why.
I propose as axiomatic that motivation for everything a person does is designed to meet a need. Most people work (are employed) to meet the two lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: physiological and safety needs: that is, for the most part, workers are, to use the loaded term, wage slaves. Wages are correctly perceived by that 70% as the “only” way to meet these survival needs. So there is unarguably a financial component to this issue, and until and unless this changes, this issue will persist, as it has for millennia.
I would argue that our culture is struggling with an outdated 500+ year old financial system: that the neo-Malthusian mindset that pervades our common financial paradigm is obsolete, and our human progress is dependent on a more modern concept of financial reality. Through human ingenuity and technological progress, there is now enough to meet everyone’s survival needs. If everyone’s survival needs are met, we could then focus on meeting our higher level needs of love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization, and release that creative, passion, energy, and enthusiasm of all humanity.
To reimagine a financial system appropriate for our modern needs, we need to start with money, as money is the quintessence of a financial system. What is money (as opposed to what does money do), who creates money, and who controls money? Most all of our money is debt, created out of thin air through ledger entries by those empowered to create money. These folk represent private interests, and are generically known as bankers.
Historically, money was a representation of a commodity, or, itself a commodity: salt, shells, gold, silver, etc. Today, money has evolved into an information system. The information it measures is the claim that an entity has (person, group, corporation) on productivity. Yet our culture and institutions still treat money as a commodity, in that it has limits: there’s only so much available. The Fed stimulus of buying $85 B per month in US Treasuries shows this is a myth. This myth is responsible for all money as debt, and there’s not enough money in existence to pay off all debt.
In reality, to say that money is limited is to say there is a limit to the number of zeros you can put into a computer. One step toward alleviating the myth of the scarcity of money is to nationalize money: restore the creation and control of money to the People. Why should the US borrow money, at interest, when it has the Constitutional right to create money and spend it on social and physical infrastructure? Note, I’m not suggesting nationalizing banks. An example of this has been proposed in HR 2990, the National Emergency Employment Defense (NEED) Act of 2012. Lincoln took similar steps in creating US Greenbacks to finance the Civil War, and Britain created the Bradbury Pound to avoid a financial collapse in 1914: both examples of “people money” vis a vis private money.
In addition to putting people to work without creating additional debt, this would allow a negative income tax to ensure the survival needs of everyone are met. These survival needs are really human rights: rights to a safe place to live, healthy food and water, medical care, and education. Once these basic human rights are guaranteed and survival needs are met, humans would be free to focus on higher level needs: to express their creativity, be passionate about their life and work, and become self-actualized humans.
Jeff, amazing commentary, thank you for your passion and honesty. I am probably overdue for another visit at your audio studio. Maybe I can get you an early version of my book and we can do a podcast chat about it! Kind of like our last conversation, only public!
Ken, it would be great to have you stop by again. My schedule is flexible; let me know what works for you. Also looking forward to your book and part II of The 70%
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