A Voice for the Disengaged

At 34 Strong, we believe every employee deserves to have a good manager.  As I meet business leaders across the country, less than 1% are intentionally training their managers to be effective leaders. Most managerial promotions are based on technical expertise or tenure with the company. The lacking leadership development in middle management is a major contributing factor to Gallup’s report that engagement hovers at about 35% nationwide. Gallup reports that 65% of our workforce is disengaged. While these are staggering numbers, 34 Strong is doing something about them!

Why Disengagement Matters?

Disengagement not only affects professional productivity, but it negatively impacts personal well-being. When I speak to students nationwide, I tell them:

The three most important decisions they will make in their lives include choosing: your significant other, your job, and your mattress.

  1. First and foremost, the people you love and choose to call family are the most important aspect of your life. 
  2. Secondly, choose a job that aligns with your strengths because it will consume a third of your life.
  3. Finally, buy a good mattress because you will spend a third of your life in bed.

These key decisions are intensely interconnected. Disengagement at work impacts both family relationships and how you sleep. Sleeplessness is a top health concern nationwide serving as a gateway to numerous other medical issues. This in turn, again impacts the quality of employee’s personal and professional lives. Here at 34 Strong we take those three choices seriously, valuing quality family time, great sleep and employee engagement.

Why Giving a Voice to the Disengaged Matters

We have decided that the best way we can make a difference in our world is to give voice to the disengaged. There is a profound impact that professional engagement will have on every employee’s personal well-being. Employees, regardless of industry or company size, have the opportunity to be engaged when they work under a manager who is willing to engage them. But the issue of engagement is steeped in the question “who is really disengaging who?” Are the employees disengaging the manager, or is the manager disengaging the employee? What we know is that managers have a disproportionate impact upon employee engagement; Gallup calls it around 70%. In fact, a recent survey of a million people who left their job voluntarily reported that 75% left because of their direct supervisor, their boss.

Giving a voice to disengaged employees goes beyond advocating for the front line workers. It involves partnering with employees, managers and C-level leaders with a strategic plan to design and sustain a new culture of engagement across every level of the organization. The primary reason for disengaged mangers is because of disengaged workers. While it seems like a chicken or egg situation, the disengagement of both managers and employees negatively impact one another. When we ask managers “who takes more of your time?” Every manager reports far more time, effort and energy is exerted on managing the minimally compliant “drone” workers, who are trading time for money. They make work environments miserable for co-workers, push back against every new policy, and consume most of the time of their supervisors. They are the disengaged employees who in turn disengage their managers. 

Engaging through Creating Culture

But, I have good news! This is not a hopeless cycle, we can do something about it. Creating and sustaining an engaged workplace culture is a choice.  Culture will happen…either intentionally or accidentally.  Great workplaces are not built by accident. 34 Strong breeds employee engagement by providing training to reignite passion, establish a new culture, and develop leaders’ potential to sustain culture. The disengaged, both the workers and the managers can find a voice through 34 Strong, where increased engagement percentages across American businesses is our ultimate mission.


Brandon Miller is the Co-Founder and CEO of 34 Strong Inc. and co-author of the book Play to Their Strengths (June 2019), a book written with his wife Analyn Miller on parenting our children from a strengths-based lens. Brandon’s top five strengths are: Maximizer, Achiever, Activator, Strategic, and Arranger.

When you are ready to create the workplace culture that you envisioned, where people are engaged, valued for being valuable and play to their Strengths, 34 Strong will be here to help you make that a reality.