Employee Loneliness, Engagement and Stress

Engagement levels are reportedly low, what can we do?

How closely does your business mirror the results of the latest global study?

What can you do enhance your results?

We have reached the time of year when global analytics and advisory firm, Gallup, publish their ‘State of the Global Workplace’ report. The findings are always interesting and, given that they have received responses from 128,278 employed people this year, they are worthy of note. This is a very large survey which spans employment levels, industries, and countries.

Gallup’s findings are likely to mirror reality in many organisations, whether we like it or not! So, what are the key messages coming through in the report?

  • 20% of the world’s employees experience daily loneliness
  • Only 23% of global employees are ‘engaged’ at work. 62% are ‘not engaged’ and 15% are ‘actively disengaged’
  • 41% of global employees experience daily stress

These headline statistics make us pause and take stock. Can circumstances really be as concerning as these headlines imply? How does your organisation stack up?


One in five people experience loneliness every day. The report explains, This percentage is higher for employees under 35 and lower for those over age 35. Fully remote employees report significantly higher levels of loneliness (25%) than those who work fully on-site (16%)”. Although Gallup does not specifically define loneliness, there is commonality across broader definitions: it manifests as a feeling of lack of social contact, or feeling separated, or feelings of isolation. Those who experience loneliness find that their mental health and wellbeing is negatively affected.

Engaged vs Disengaged

Actively disengaged employees are described as ‘workers who actively oppose their employer’s goals’ and, worryingly, this is how 15% of the global workforce are rating themselves. This group is actively looking for work and could be described as ‘disgruntled and disloyal’.

Conversely, 23% of the global workforce describe themselves as ‘engaged’. This group is involved in, and enthusiastic about, their workplace, contributing in a meaningful and valuable way. This number has reduced from last year and suggests that approximately one in five people are engaged in their workplace.

The final status in Gallup’s report, and the one in which the majority of respondents fall, is ‘not engaged’. They describe these individuals as those who are psychologically unattached to their work and company. A huge 62% of respondents report that they are not engaged, suggesting that they go to work and do their job, but are not enthusiastic about doing it, only doing what they need to do.

Gallup estimates that low employee engagement costs the global economy 8.9 trillion US dollars


In this year’s report, 41% of respondents report that they experience a high degree of stress, relatively surprising when we consider how much employee wellbeing has moved up the agenda for employers. But this does perhaps demonstrate that not all organisations have yet taken effective action to reduce feelings of stress amongst their workforces.

Where’s the best practice?

Among these concerning statistics are some beacons of hope:

The report found that stress varies significantly according to how organisations are run. “Those who work in companies with bad management practices (actively disengaged) are nearly 60% more likely to be stressed than people working in environments with good management practices (engaged). In fact, experiencing “a lot of stress” is reported approximately 30% more frequently by employees working under bad management than by the unemployed. If we can improve the number of organisations demonstrating these good management practices, we will dramatically reduce stress levels amongst employees.

Gallup also reports that when managers are engaged at work, non-managers are more likely to also be engaged. “An effective manager motivates team members, moving them from indifferent to inspired. Managers drive engagement through goal setting, regular meaningful feedback, and accountability.”

Best practice organisations have 75% of managers reporting as ‘engaged’ and 70% of employees reporting as engaged. This is much higher than the global averages that we referred to earlier.

These best practice organisations have focussed on several key areas in order to gain these levels of engagement:

  • They make manager hiring and development a high priority
  • They integrate engagement into every stage of their employee and manager life cycle
  • They emphasise wellbeing at work and in life

At ICC, we support multiple organisations to optimise their leadership and management styles, embedding meaningful change that is visible in leaders and emanates throughout the organisation. We like nothing more than to hear stories of how a leader has subtly changed their language, which has led to more open communication, or how a team has increased their revenue because they are much clearer on how their roles contribute to the overall picture.

We take your Best Practice and help you to make it Business as Usual

We can do better and we must do better. Speak to us today and let’s improve employee engagement together.

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