Worldwide Gallup Poll Results Are In: People Want to Work


Jim Clifton is chairman and CEO of the Gallup Poll, but he also runs the Clifton Foundation, a philanthropy dedicated to encouraging people to develop their "God-given strengths" to create new jobs through small business start-ups.

So it's no surprise (and maybe begs the question about the chicken and the egg) but the Gallup poll just did a survey in, no lie, 160 nations, and found that the overwhelming desire of people is ... to have a job!

Gallup's research has found that of the 7 billion people on earth, 3.2 billion are adults who dream of having a good job. That is what they want more than anything in life. We define a good job as 30+ hours a week for a paycheck. The problem is that when our World Poll asks how many people have a "good job" as defined this way, only 1.3 billion do. So the world is currently short about 1.9 billion real jobs -- or what we call "good jobs." ...

These metrics are in stark contrast to official unemployment figures from the International Labor Organization (ILO) that estimate global unemployment at 5.9%. Gallup shows global unemployment around 32%. The difference is that ILO counts "informal" jobs as good jobs -- subsistence farming or selling trinkets in traffic. This is not to disparage ILO systems, as the leaders there are doing what's expected of them by the United Nations. But the Gallup World Poll drilled down to the percentage of world citizens with what you and I would call a modern real job.

So when the Gallup World Poll reports 32% global unemployment, it's helpful to understand it as 32% unfulfilled global dreams.

Gallup found that having a job is more important to most people surveyed than world peace or even freedom and family.

That could lead to some discouraging trends, like the rise of dictatorships or indifference to violence, but really, I prefer to think of it this way — if people feel rewarded by the work they do, and not just financially but through spiritual or psychological enrichment, then they're not going to allow others to tell them how to live — and that's the first step toward an empowered self-starter society.

Clifton, somewhat disappointingly, describes the jobs-as-priority-one phenomenon as originating in envy — the Internet has made it possible for poor people to see how rich people live. I find that extremely cynical, but maybe I'm misreading his intent.

He does, however, make a really valid point that economic growth and job creation come almost entirely from small businesses.

Furthermore, I give him huge credit for doing more than just collecting the data, but acting on it. How so? Well, doing what wealthy people do well. Finding and fostering other people's talent.

He and Gallup have donated $30 million to the University of Nebraska to start a new "strengths institute" to "find and develop entrepreneurs, startup types, rainmakers and extraordinarily talented salespeople and leaders — people who have a natural gift to create economic energy where none existed before."

The funny thing is, almost anybody can develop this gift given the right mindset, and Clifton's dad, Don Clifton, dedicated his life to cultivating this ability.

Clifton concluded that people's weaknesses rarely develop into strengths, but that when people develop their inherent God-given strengths, they develop infinitely, leading to productive lives of high value and high well-being. They also create tremendous economic energy.

Dad's life's work culminated in what is now a world-famous invention called the Clifton StrengthsFinder , which has helped more than 13 million people worldwide learn and develop their strengths. The assessment has been used by most Fortune 1000 companies, plus famous NGOs such as the World Bank and United Nations, as well as many U.S. government agencies and departments, including the military. His invention has changed how leaders are developed -- and it has now changed the world.

The new Don Clifton Strengths Institute aims to make a replicable model for helping young people build new businesses and become job creators to "meet the will of the world to have a good job."

The institute also wants to stop "the global decline of free enterprise," particularly in the U.S. where "businesses have been dying faster than they are being born," and to end "mistaken theories on employee engagement and how humans develop in the workplace -- namely that they develop through fixing their weaknesses rather than focusing on their strengths."

That last goal I find particularly admirable. We live in a time where we spend so much energy tearing each other down rather than building each other up. Wouldn't it be amazing if we, and especially those who have authority over us, like managers and bosses, concentrated on making us better rather than just telling us what we're not doing right?

I, for one, am going to spend 2018 trying to focus on making people feel useful and helpful, and like they have the power to achieve great things (if they work on it), and I'm going to avoid focusing on people's flaws — no matter how much they try to frustrate my goodwill by being inciteful, dismissive, or rude.

It's a radical New Year's resolution, but call me an unofficial member of the strengths institute.

What are you going to do to help others in 2018?