The world of business is filled with jargon, which often includes redundant words and tortured syntax. Think price point, incentivize, core competencies or value add. Engagement, an otherwise benign word, takes on a different meaning in the workplace when used to define employees' level of enthusiasm or motivation on the job.

Worker engagement, or its less-jargony cousin, morale, is an important component of nearly any business. Lack of engagement can cause reduced productivity, disgruntled customers, slower response times and more -- all of which can affect a company's bottom line.

In its most recent quarterly study of employee engagement, Hewitt Associates (HEW) found that nearly nearly half of the 900 organizations it surveyed saw a significant drop in this metric, the largest decline the human-resource consultancy observed since it first began its research 15 years ago.

"The Stress Continues to Increase"

The findings, culled from companies' own surveys on the topic, highlight a growing tension between employers -- many of which are struggling to stabilize their financial situation -- and employees, who are showing fatigue in response to a lengthy period of stress, uncertainty and confusion brought about by the recession and their company's actions, Hewitt says.

Further, employees who have survived layoffs have too-often found they're the ones picking up the slack created by their departed colleagues.

"The economic situation over the past two years has clearly strained the connection between employers and employees, and the stress continues to increase," says Ted Marusarz, leader of Global Engagement and Culture at Hewitt.

Pushed to the Limit

One prescient example of the growing tension between employers and workers is Steven Slater, the JetBlue Airways (JBLU) flight attendant who a week ago decided he'd had enough of his job -- while still on the job. Airline employees, as much as those in any other sector, have experienced increased stress. Busier flights, more security precautions, wage concessions and a host of other issues have pushed many to the limit, which is where Slater found himself last Monday.

After a long flight that included an exchange of words with an unruly passenger and a gash to his head caused by her luggage, Slater let loose a flurry expletives over the airplane's public address system, then deployed the emergency evacuation chute and slid down to the tarmac at Kennedy International Airport and into notoriety. To say the least, Slater wasn't engaged. It could be said, in fact, that he had become disengaged -- or even unhinged.

Slater was later arrested at his home in Queens and charged with felony counts of criminal mischief and reckless endangerment. But in the aftermath of his actions, he has become of folk hero of sorts to many workers, which likely affirms Hewitt's findings. Though most workers wouldn't likely emulate Slater's behavior, they surely feel as frustrated as he did.

The effort to reengage workers falls largely to the organizations that employ them, Hewitt says, and they need to act prudently or risk losing top talent when the economy finally does turn around. Stressed-out workers can hold on only for so long before they, too, begin looking for the emergency exit.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Getting out of debt

Everyone hates debt. Get out of it.

View Course »

What is Inflation?

Why do prices go up?

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

Where is the story about building the mosque at the 911 site?

August 16 2010 at 7:57 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply


August 16 2010 at 7:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Obama's policies are destroying jobs. The Stimulus failed. The Gulf. Idle rigs. Obama shut down drilling for no reason. The American people do not want liberal achievements. George what more could the president have done Stephanopoulos said, "There are more signs today the US economy is slowing down, jobless claims up to 484,000." Obama wants us to think that almost 10% unemployment is normal, and it would be worse if not for Obama. It's not a question of what more could he have done. It's can we turn what he's done around and save the country? When your number one issue is healthcare, create unemployment. It's about control.

August 16 2010 at 7:07 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.5 percent, the economy actually lost another 131,000 jobs in July. The only reason the unemployment rate didn't go up was because so many people had quit looking and dropped out of the workforce. Tens of thousands of people throwing in the towel is definitely not good news. More "not good news": the number of Americans unemployed for 26 weeks or more is now over 6.5 million.

Clearly, we're not in the middle of a normal recovery. Wall Street may have its casino up and running again, but Main Street shows no signs of bouncing back anytime soon. From foreclosures to unemployment to household debt to bankruptcies, the American middle class is under assault -- and America is in danger of becoming a Third World nation.

Though it is far from what dominates the debate in Washington, every day brings fresh evidence of the new reality that America is entering. And it's not just about dismal unemployment figures and gloomy foreclosure numbers. As the New York Times reported last week, Hawaii has gone beyond laying off teachers and has begun laying off students -- closing its public schools on 17 Fridays during the last school year. In the Atlanta suburb of Clayton County, the entire bus system was shut down. Colorado Springs turned off over 24,000 of its streetlights. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Camden, New Jersey is soon to permanently shutter its entire library system. And last month the Wall Street Journal reported on the trend of cash-strapped states and counties giving up on the idea of maintaining paved roads, allowing them instead to turn back into gravel. And those localities that can't even afford to put gravel down are just letting the roads, as the Journal put it, "return to nature." A seminar at Purdue University on this trend was entitled "Back to the Stone Age."

August 16 2010 at 6:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Watch out, dems!

August 16 2010 at 6:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If the Black Panthers try to keep us from voting, we will disarm them and beat them with their itty bitty tennie weenie clubs.

August 16 2010 at 6:18 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

CEOs at GM are under fire, too. Obama likes saying, you're fired" to relieve his overworked stressed hyped anxiety level.

August 16 2010 at 6:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Maybe Islamists won't build it. Cheers for Guttfeld.

August 16 2010 at 6:04 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

To the happy Rant couple. Don't do that on the job.

August 16 2010 at 6:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There is no need for dems to be concerned about the TEA baggers. They ain't gonna vote for no dem.

August 16 2010 at 5:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply