A Gallup poll was released this week with the headline: Montana Ranks Highest in Employee Engagement in 2013 and 2014.
That Montana appears in a national news headline is, in itself, newsworthy. The nation’s fourth-largest state geographically ranks only 44th in population, having just broken the 1 million mark. With only seven people per square mile, this beautiful “fly over country” is generally pretty inconsequential to the national news media.
So when my beloved Big Sky State is granted a few inches of bold type, it gets my attention. And as a retired business owner and manager – and an unabashed free-market capitalist – any discussion related to getting, keeping, and motivating employees is compelling to me.
Gallup’s poll asks employers to what extent their people are engaged and enthused about their work and workplace. Are they passionate about their jobs? Do they feel a “profound connection” to their company?
In Montana, apparently they do. In New York, not so much. What accounts for the difference?
The Gallup article concludes that employees in smaller businesses are more engaged than those lost in a sea of cubicles or a huge factory full of machines. There are very few large businesses in Montana, so most employees work directly with the owners and managers of their companies. They see and feel the connection between their own performance and the success of the business. They rely more closely on each other and know that the success of the individual employee and the company are interwoven.
Another factor is geographic isolation. Cattle outnumber people almost three to one in the Big Sky State. My hometown, Lewistown, is the 16th largest city in Montana, with a population of almost 6,000. Most Montanans live in or near very small communities, and the distance to most services that the rest of the country takes for granted is considerable. It creates an uncommon level of self-sufficiency. Montanans learn to weld so they can repair their own equipment. They plow their own snow or else they would be stranded. They voluntarily man the fire trucks and ambulances. Waiting for government services is often just not an option.
And that just might be the difference between Montana and New York.
A few months ago when two feet of snow was predicted in New York, the government told residents to stay home. And they did. Two feet of snow in Montana just makes for better elk hunting. Try telling Montana hunters to stay home after a fresh snow! And a little snow certainly doesn’t keep those engaged Montana employees from going to work.
History teaches that dependence on government throttles personal ambition and motivation. And excessive regulation and government control restricts economic growth and standards of living. Montanans are currently waging what they consider to be an existential battle against federal encroachment, defending their water rights, their natural resources, and their land from a variety of federal programs that threaten seizure, severe regulation, or endless environmental litigation. 30% of Montana land is already “owned” by the federal government.
Montanans are engaged in preserving the sovereignty of their state and the ownership rights of their own property. They are engaged in the safety, well-being and economic success of their families and communities. Rather than wait for the federal government to determine their needs and provide for them, Montanans would just as soon the feds butt out.
It’s not hard to see why Montanans are more engaged in their employment than most other Americans.
see this article in its entirety at Watchdog Arena
Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side
Come on now, people let’s get on the ball
Come on, come on let’s work together
Because together we will stand