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The Way We Work Is Broken. Here's The Evidence.

Pim de Morree
Written by Pim de Morree February 28, 2019

A big part of our job is to increase awareness: awareness of global workplace pioneers (through our Bucket List), and how they’re changing organizations for the better. To show where they are, how they work, and how they have transformed.

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It’s also important to highlight what does not work—to help everyone understand that many organizations are broken. Without that awareness, change isn’t going to happen.

In this post, we provide convincing and painful data that show many of today’s workplaces are just not working. This is ammunition to help you get the topic higher on the agenda in your organization.

The employee engagement sinkhole

Three years ago, we quit our corporate jobs because we were fed up with the way our organizations functioned. We enjoyed the content of the work but hated the way of working that was forced upon us. Simply, we lacked motivation, and we were clearly disengaged.

We assumed we probably weren’t the only ones. And boy, were we right!

Gallup’s ‘State of the Global Workplace’ (2017) shows how bad things are. The data come from 155 countries. Globally, only 15% of one’s colleagues are engaged. To be clear, engaged to Gallup means those colleagues who "are highly involved in and enthusiastic about their work and workplace. They are psychological “owners”. They drive performance and innovation and move the organization forward."

But 67% are not engaged at work. They are "psychologically unattached to their work and their company. Because their engagement needs are not being fully met, they’re putting time – but not energy or passion – into their work."

The remaining 18% are actively disengaged. These are the ones who sabotage the workplace because they "aren’t just unhappy at work – they are resentful that their needs aren’t being met and are acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers potentially undermine what their engaged co-workers accomplish."

Engagement Data 1

This is not some other country’s problem. The data come from the 10 countries in which you, the majority of visitors to our website, live. You can see the data. It is pretty bad almost anywhere you are.

Crash and burn

The way we work makes people sick. Not just figuratively – but also literally. More people are suffering from burnout symptoms. Recent research by TNO (Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research) found a growing number of employees experience burnout symptoms. In 2011 that percentage was already high at 11%, but by 2017 the number had increased to a staggering 16%. The cost to the Dutch economy? €8.7 billion per year!

One of the main reasons more people are experiencing burnout is because of less autonomy. More feel they have too little control over their work. Apparently, organizations are getting worse at giving people freedom and autonomy. It seems we’re going back in time – to the industrial era when people were told what to do – day in, day out.

Even more painful? While the Dutch burnout problem is unacceptable, it’s still the European country with the lowest (!) level of burnout. Imagine what this means on European and global levels!

Lost by design

A recent Deloitte research report surveyed over 7,000 business and HR leaders in more than 130 countries. They asked them to name the biggest worries and challenges they face in their organizations today.

Organization design is top of the agenda. 92% rate it as a priority. Leadership, culture, and engagement are the other big issues they name.

Leaders worry about 1

It seems that most leaders know what needs to change—but they have no clue how to go about it.

We're not even close

The variety of progressive workplaces we have researched over three years shows there’s a way to break through this terrible status quo. There are ways to create highly engaging workplaces. Based on 100+ workplace visits around the world, we’ve identified what these organizations do differently.

It seems that most leaders know what needs to change—but they have no clue how to go about it.
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We highlight the findings in our 8 main trends of progressive workplaces. In fact, we even teamed up with market research firm Markteffect to figure out how progressive today’s workplaces actually are, and how big the gap is between their current and desired states.

The study revealed a big mismatch between what employees experience and what they desire. Here are the big gaps between current and desired states on the 8 trends.

8 trends survey3

The verdict

There’s a lot of work to be done to improve the way we work. This is evident from high levels of disengagement and burnout. And the gap between current and desired states has both employees and leaders worried.

It’s time for action. It’s time to lift awareness – around the globe. The more who know about it, the higher is the chance that we can make an impact.
Click to tweet

It’s time for action. It’s time to lift awareness – around the globe. The more who know about it, the higher the chance that we can make an impact.

Get into action. Subscribe to our newsletter to learn how.

Written by Pim de Morree
Pim de Morree
As co-founder of Corporate Rebels I focus on: researching, writing, speaking, and building our company.
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