China has one of the world's lowest levels of employee engagement at just 6 percent, a survey by United States-based Gallup Inc has found.
About 68 percent of employees in China aren't engaged in their jobs, and 26 percent are actively disengaged and likely to disrupt their colleagues' efforts, according to the report —State of the Global Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for Business Leaders Worldwide.
The report is based on Gallup's study of workplaces in more than 140 countries from 2011-12.
Engaged workers "work with passion" and feel a connection to their company. Disengaged employees are "sleepwalking through their workday", Gallup said.
Actively disengaged employees are busy acting out their unhappiness.
"I don't see it as a problem but as an opportunity," said Wu Tao, principal consultant and senior research director for Gallup China.
Low engagement is pervasive among Chinese workers across different job types and education levels, the survey found.
The researchers interviewed Chinese employees aged 18 and older who work for an employer.
Even among professional workers and managers — job classifications often featuring high levels of status and autonomy — the engagement rate is just 8 percent.
Only 4 percent of sales and service workers are engaged, a problem for Chinese companies that want repeat customers in the nation's increasingly consumer-based economy.
But China isn't all that far below global levels, Gallup found: Only 13 percent of employees worldwide feel engaged at work.
North America, which covers the United States and Canada, had the highest proportion of engaged workers, at 29 percent, followed by Australia and New Zealand, at 24 percent.
To encourage more engagement among Chinese workers, employers should examine their management practices and criteria for selecting managers.
Companies also need to provide the proper training for managers, Gallup Chief Executive Officer Jim Clifton said.
Gallup's advice to companies that want to raise engagement levels among their workers is to conduct a reality check, said Wu.
"It's like a health check for the company," he said. "Every worker has a voice in that survey.