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Employees on job: 49% South Asian workers worried as against 40% global average

By Bharat Dogra* 

There has been growing concern in recent years regarding the extent to which workers and employees are stressed in their work and have strong feelings of alienation. In this context the findings of one of the most extensive surveys on this subject are significant. These can be seen in Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace Report 2022. This is based on findings from a poll of employees of 112,312 business units spread over 96 countries covering almost all parts of the world.
While presenting some of the main findings of the report and its overall perspective the CEO of Gallop Jon Clifton says in his introduction that 60% of workers worldwide are emotionally detached at work and 19% are miserable. If asked did you feel stressed at workplace yesterday, 59% say yes. If asked did you feel worried at work yesterday, 56% answer in the affirmative. If asked did you feel physical pain a lot of the day at work yesterday 33% say yes. If asked whether they felt anger at their job yesterday, 31% say yes. Only 21% are engaged at work, and such high levels of disengagement cost about $7.8 trillion and account for 11% of GNP loss. The report says that an average human being is likely to spend 81396 hours at work in his/her lifetime and so it is really important to know how workers and employees feel when on job.
The report gives slightly different data while reporting world averages which indicate that nearly 21% workers are engaged, 40% are worried, 44% are stressed, 21% are angry and 23% feel sadness at work on daily basis.
It is important to note that in the case of workers in the USA and Canada the worry levels are even higher at 41% and stress levels are significantly higher at 50%. In the case of women workers in USA and Canada the percentage of those who are worried on daily level is even higher at 46. In fact the level of female workers being stressed is the highest in the USA and Canada at 54%. If you have read Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Nickel and Dimed, you may get an idea of why this is so. Also this survey tells us that 63% of employees feel that businesses in their country are affected by corruption.
What may perhaps come as an even bigger surprise to several people is that the per cent of engaged workers is very low in Europe—just 14% compared to 21% world average. In Europe 37% employees are worried at work and 39% are stressed, while 19% are angry and 21% are sad.
In South Asia (including India of course) worry and sadness levels are quite high. Here 49% are worried (compared to 40% world average) and as many as 42% are sad (compared to world average of 23). In fact workers affected by sadness at job are the highest here in percentage terms. At the same time, it is interesting to see that while worry and particularly sadness levels are so high here, the percentage of workers who are stressed on daily basis is lesser here—35% compared to world average of 44%. So it appears that workers can handle stress somewhat better here, despite worrying and being affected by sadness more. Those affected by anger here are much higher in percentage terms compared to world average—34% compared to 21% world average. The percentage of workers who feel businesses to be affected by corruption is also extremely high in South Asia at 81%. The employees engaged with their work are 27%.
In some of the richer regions, even while levels of engagement may be low, workers tend to have a better perception of their overall life prospects. In Europe this is true for 47% of workers, despite those engaged with work being just 14%. This may be because of various welfare benefits workers can access. In South Asia these benefits are largely absent, and so we see that workers in South Asia who have a positive or hopeful perception of overall life prospects is only 11%.
Hence it is clear that the overall picture we get of the involvement and engagement of most employees with their work is a bleak one. Even if we go back to some of the previous polls and studies of Gallup on this issue, we get a similar discouraging view of workers’ perception regarding their employment and work. Around 2017 the workers who were engaged with their work were found to be just 15%. Analysis of 2011-12 data revealed this percentage to be 13 only, while those having negative feeling or feelings of hostility towards their place of work and employment outnumbered those who were positively engaged by 2 to 1. Another Gallup study in Germany suggested that some of the stress and alienation of workplace is carried back home too as 51% of the actively disengaged workers were found to be behaving poorly with their loved ones.
Such studies and polls are important for drawing attention to the disturbing reality of a very important aspect of human life, and thereby to emphasize the need for significant, thoughtful remedial action.
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*Honorary convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now; recent books include ‘Planet in Peril’, ‘Man over Machine’ and ‘A Day in 2071’

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