How disengaged employees harm the economy

One of the most significant and debilitating workforce issues facing the American economy is hiding in plain sight, according to a local expert. The number of disengaged workers is on the rise, and without purpose or motivation, the problem will only magnify.

In his newest book Crisis of Disengagement, Andrew Sherman describes, explains, and sets out a plan for fixing this issue.

Crisis of Disengagement explains that “you have to have great governance, you have to have a culture of innovation, but quite frankly, if your people aren’t engaged, you’re not going to have any of those things,” he said.


According to a recent Gallup survey, while “four out of 100 people describe themselves as highly engaged,” said Sherman, adding 51 percent describe themselves as “disengaged.” What’s worse is the percentage of people who describe themselves as “actively disengaged” — 20 percent.

“These are the saboteurs of our society,” said Sherman. “These people not only are very unhappy at their jobs and hate their bosses, but they want you to be unhappy!”

This issue spreads across professional generations.

“One big misunderstanding that I found in my research on this book: it’s not just the millennials who are disengaged. There’s a lot of 50-somethings and 60-somethings still in the workplace, still looking to find their true selves,” he told What’s Working in Washington.

Fixing this problem requires a lot of restructuring. “We need to break down what we think the current definitions of management and leadership are,” Sherman said.

Instead of a boss, Sherman advocated for coaches, mentors, and catalysts. “That’s what everybody wants. They want to be coached, they want to feel like they’re the player on a star team, and that they’ve got the greatest coach in the world who’s going to help them just get better and better,” he said.

This sort of engagement can only be driven well through qualitative, not quantitative, benefits. “At the end of the day, people want to matter,” Sherman said.

“Everyone wants to go home and have something exciting to tell their spouse or their children,” he said, suggesting employers step into the shoes of one’s employees, “and say, ‘what can I do that advances the interests of my shareholders, but also makes that employee’s day something that they’re excited to go home and tell their family about?’”

Listen to entire March 13 show: