If you’re feeling great about your company, there’s a better chance that you live in Arkansas than Pennsylvania.

Between January 2013 and December 2014, Gallup conducted 166,409 interviews with employees across the country to find out which category they fell in:

Engaged – employees who are involved in and enthusiastic about their work and company and more passionate and productive than the average employee.

Not engaged – employees who are checked out and don’t really care about their customers and productivity.

Actively disengaged – employees whose lack of engagement is so pronounced that they’re actually sabotaging the morale and efficiency of their colleagues and managers.

Gallup has shown in the past that employee engagement is directly tied to nine performance outcomes for organizations, and companies with engaged employees have 22% higher profitability than those with disengaged workers.

In the current survey, 31% of workers across the country were engaged during this time period, and an average of 18% showed active disengagement. But a cluster of states rose to the top of the engagement list, and a bunch are plagued with the most actively disengaged workers.

Here were the engagement winners:

  1. Montana (39% engagement)
  2. Mississippi (37%)
  3. Louisiana (36%)
  4. Oklahoma (35%)
  5. New Mexico (35%)
  6. Arkansas (35%)
  7. Texas (34%)
  8. Florida (34%)
  9. Alabama (33%)
  10. Georgia (33%)

And here are the engagement losers, the states with the most actively disengaged workers:

  1. New York (21%)
  2. Minnesota (21%)
  3. Connecticut (21%)
  4. Kentucky (21%)
  5. New Jersey (20%)
  6. Delaware (20%)
  7. Ohio (20%)
  8. Pennsylvania (20%)
  9. Nevada (19%)
  10. Missouri (19%)

So what can we conclude from these findings? What makes one state a leader in employee engagement where other states struggle?

Gallup found that states that have more actively disengaged employees have significantly higher unemployment and underemployment rates than states with lower active disengagement. The theory is that a more competitive labor market makes employers have a greater appreciation for their workers. And their research also shows that newer employees are more engaged than tenured employees, so states that have more new hires may have better odds of higher engagement.

Past Gallup studies have shown that smaller companies have a better shot at engaging their employees, perhaps related to the greater sense of autonomy and “ownership” that is often present in these settings. Gallup points out that the seven states with the lowest levels of active disengagement are more likely to have a high percentage of firms with fewer than 10 employees than the states with the highest levels of active disengagement, which could explain some of the engagement variations between states.

“Knowing why some states have higher employee engagement than others ultimately requires an examination of the management practices of organizations within each state,” the report notes. “While there are significant differences in employee engagement across states, Gallup finds even greater differences in engagement across organizations and among manager-led teams within organizations.”

Talented managers who know how to lead teams the right way are ultimately one of the biggest drivers of engagement within organizations, and progressive thinking that fluctuates between states may have an impact on how states fare in their engagement numbers.

While not addressed in the Gallup survey, it would be instructive to understand the breakdown of high and low engaged states as it relates to the percentage of volunteer and giving programs. And even then, seeing which companies are really devoting resources to make their programs shine would be revealing. Progressive managers know that strong employee volunteer and giving programs, and an overall culture of giving back, are an increasingly important factor in engagement. Investing in your employees and their ability to engage with their communities leads them to be more engaged with your company, and it’s certainly one deciding element of which states are winning and which ones are losing the engagement battle.

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