There is significant evidence of disengagement in the workplace. The 2012 Gallup report, ‘The State of the Global Workplace’, found that 87% of employees worldwide are either not engaged or actively disengaged with their work. Only 13% are actively engaged. When employees are engaged, they are passionate, creative, emotionally connected to the purpose of their work, psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organisations
When employees are not engaged, they lack motivation, are less likely to invest discretionary effort, and are indifferent toward their jobs. When employees are actively disengaged, they are unhappy and unproductive, hate their jobs and are liable to spread negativity.
Disengagement is also a problem in education. According to Steedman and Stoney’s discussion paper Disengagement 14-16: Context and Evidence, between one-fifth and one-third of all young people aged 14-16 are disengaged from education. This means they are likely to hold negative attitudes towards school, likely to be truant or to demonstrate behavioural problems, unlikely to have positive relationships with teachers, and unlikely to recognise the importance of working hard in school.
Disengagement is not simply an organisational issue; it is also a mental health issue. According to Daniel Pink in Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us, the absence of engagement causes serious psychological symptoms: “In an experiment denying people of all flow experiences, after 48 hours the subjects plunged into a state eerily similar to a serious psychiatric disorder. A deep sense of engagement, then, isn’t a nicety but a necessity.”