man falling asleep at his desk
PHOTO: William Brawley

Gallup's State of the American Workplace has become a bellwether on where organizations are with employee engagement. In 2012, the survey illustrated our collective failure to tap into the talents and dreams of our employees with statistics such as these. 

The average organization had:

  • 31 percent of employees actively engaged in the workplace.
  • 51 percent not engaged.
  • And (yikes) 18 percent actively disengaged.

The picture Gallup painted in 2012 was an entire staff of Dunder Mifflin employees, either uncommitted or actively working in opposition to the company. 

To put the numbers in context, the equivalent numbers for a world class organization were 67 percent actively engaged, 26 percent not engaged, and 7 percent actively disengaged. That’s quite a difference. 

Gallup estimated the lost productivity of actively disengaged employees cost businesses $370 billion a year. That’s billion with a B.

Related Article: The Common Sense Guide to Employee Engagement

Are Digital Workplace Investments Paying Off?

So it was with great excitement when I discovered the latest in the State of the American Workplace series, published last year. I believed all of the changes we’ve made over the past five years in workplace technologies — and our increased focus on flexibility of working conditions — had to have made a significant difference in our collective ability to tap into the untapped passions and skills of our employees.

As they say on Family Feud, and the survey says …

The average organization now has:

  • 33 percent of employees are actively engaged in the workplace.
  • 51 percent are not engaged.
  • 16 percent are actively disengaged.

Well that’s a bit underwhelming.

Gallup’s conclusion: “The latest number is the highest in Gallup’s 15-plus years of tracking employee engagement. But it’s not quite cause for celebration. The majority of employees (51 percent) are not engaged and haven’t been for quite some time. Employee engagement has barely budged over the past decade and a half. At times, the metric has stagnated, and at other times, it has even retreated …. The U.S. — and the world at large — is in the midst of an employee engagement crisis.”

Related Article: Poor Digital Skills Hinder Digital Workplace Success

Reflections in the Content Management World

With this context in mind, I took another look at some of the data from a short survey AIIM did this past fall of about 200 organizations and their satisfaction with their content management and records management systems. The question was pretty straightforward:

“How well do your existing information management/document management/records management systems meet your needs in the following core areas?”

All of these elements help us understand the pervasive disengagement that exists in the workplace. I think this also lies at the heart of the revolution currently underway in the content and information management space.

This is not to say that content management has been a failure. In terms of automating large-scale processing of documents and information in the context of mission critical business processes, content management is a great success story. But also evident are the weaknesses in applying legacy solutions and strategies to the next generation of problems — centered around employee and customer experiences.

Every user organization I speak with talks about the need to rationalize and modernize their content infrastructure, to deploy solutions that were designed from the get-go for the cloud and mobile, and to quickly deliver more modular content capabilities as needed in the context of transformed processes. I think all of this is at the heart of the interest in what some vendors are calling Content Services.

What will employee engagement look like in another five years?