by Alex Palmer | January 30, 2015
A new study from Gallup finds just under one-third of U.S. workers (31.5 percent) feel a sense of engagement in their work. The report, which drew on the responses of more than 80,000 adult employees to Gallup Daily tracking interviews, defines engaged workers as those who are enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.

While that number certainly points to opportunities for employers to bolster their worker reward and recognition efforts, it is actually the highest engagement level seen since Gallup began measuring it in 2000. The 31.5 percent worker engagement number represents a 1.9 percent increase over 2013.

Gallup points to two factors to explain this growth. One is the improving economy, the Gallup report says, noting that engagement scores began to drop in 2008 as the U.S. economy tumbled into recession, and did not begin to improve until 2011. 

Another factor is that, "employee engagement initiatives have become more commonplace," since Gallup began measuring workplace engagement, the report states. "Many organizations increasingly assess their managers on engagement metrics and expect them to maintain employees' engagement levels. Managers are giving engagement more attention than they have in the past, potentially leading to higher engagement percentages."

The level of engagement was found to vary by generation, with the youngest workers the least engaged. While 42.2 percent of the oldest workers, Traditionalists, describe themselves as engaged, this drops to 32.7 percent for Baby Boomers, 32.2 percent for Generation X, and 28.9 percent for Millennials. All of these are higher than 2013, when the level of engagement from oldest to youngest generation was 38.3 percent, 30.9 percent, 29.6 percent, and 27.5 percent, respectively.

Engagement also varies by job category, with managers and executives reporting the highest level of engagement -- 38.4 percent -- followed by farming and forestry at 33.6 percent, and professionals with 32.4 percent. Sales professionals are in the bottom half in terms of engagement, with just 30.6 percent reporting that they are engaged at work. Employees working in the manufacturing and production sectors were at the bottom, with just 23 percent engaged. 

These numbers are consistent with those in 2013, with the notable exception that the manager and executive category swapped places with farming and forestry for the top job category.