Bad Job Worse than No Job at All?

April 5, 2011 ( - American workers who are emotionally disconnected from their work and workplace -- known as "actively disengaged" workers -- rate their lives more poorly than do those who are unemployed, according to a new Gallup poll.

Forty-two percent of actively disengaged workers are thriving in their lives, compared with 48% of the unemployed. At the other end of the spectrum are “engaged” employees — American workers who are involved in and enthusiastic about their work — 71% of whom are thriving.  

Gallup said actively disengaged workers do worse than the unemployed across five key positive experience measures that Gallup surveys as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. These questions ask respondents about their positive experiences and emotions such as enjoyment, smiling or laughing, learning something interesting, being treated with respect, and feeling well-rested “yesterday.”  

Actively disengaged workers are less likely than the unemployed to say they felt well-rested (53% vs. 74%, respectively), were treated with respect (77% vs. 92%), smiled or laughed a lot (70% vs. 80%), learned something interesting (46% vs. 65%), or experienced enjoyment the day before the survey (69% vs. 81%).  

Engaged workers, on the other hand, are more likely than other workers and the unemployed to report several of these positive experiences, including learning something interesting (80%), enjoyment (95%), smiling or laughter (93%), being treated with respect (97%), and feeling well-rested (76%).  

The unemployed and workers who are actively disengaged are about equally likely to report negative daily experiences across five key negative experience measures that Gallup surveys as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Daily worry (49% unemployed and 46% actively disengaged), sadness (25% and 23%), stress (54% and 59%), anger (20% vs. 24%), and physical pain (26% vs. 29%) are as prevalent among workers who are actively disengaged as they are among the unemployed.  

More about the poll is at