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Are the Happiest Employees Also the Worst Employees?

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Conventional wisdom tells us that our most engaged employees are also the best employees. But a new study paints a different picture.

According to a survey conducted by Atlanta-based consulting firm Leadership IQ, 42 percent of companies say that their lowest performers report actually being more engaged than their middle and high performers.

The Wall Street Journal has more:

The findings suggest many organizations are not holding employees accountable for their work, allowing the worst workers to skate by, says Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ . . . “Low performers often end up with the easiest jobs because managers don’t ask much of them,” he said, so they’re under less stress and they’re more satisfied with their daily work lives.

Meanwhile, dedicated and conscientious workers end up staying at the office late, correcting the work of the low performers, and making sure clients or customers are satisfied. This pattern breeds frustration and disengagement in the high performers—and perhaps ultimately drives them to seek work elsewhere. “They feel stressed and undervalued, and it starts to undermine the high performers’ confidence that the organization is a meritocracy,” said Mr. Murphy.

Do you think these same findings apply to the federal workforce? Are low performers in government blissfully ignorant of their performance?

Tell us how engaged you are: Click here to take GovExec’s five-minute survey on employee engagement.

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Mark Micheli is Special Projects Editor for Government Executive Media Group. He's the editor of Excellence in Government Online and contributes to GovExec, NextGov and Defense One. Previously, he worked on national security and emergency management issues with the US Treasury Department and the Department of Homeland Security. He's a graduate of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and studied at Drake University.

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