The High Cost of a Disengaged Workforce and What to Do About It

by Courtney LeCompte on April 24, 2017

in Compensation Toolkit,Employee Engagement


Human Resources exists to maximize the productivity of an organization by optimizing the effectiveness of its employees. Employee effectiveness is optimized when employees are engaged.

In 2016, Gallup released its annual employee engagement survey which polled more than 80,000 workers nationally. Similar to results released in 2015, the survey found that a mere 32% of employees were engaged at work. Engaged employees are the minority at work, but they are the ones who drive innovation, grow the organization, improve customer care, foster loyalty, and raise productivity. They outperform disengaged employees by over 200%1.

32 % of employees are engaged at work

Poor productivity stemming from disengaged employees results in:

  • Costing U.S. businesses $450-$550 billion collectively each year
  • Higher rates of turnover (the average cost to replace an employee is nearly $14,0002)
  • Less valuable client relationships
  • Excessive absenteeism

Businesses and managers must create the conditions for satisfied and engaged employees, who in turn will provide valuable performance output. Motivating high performance requires getting to the heart of what matters to employees.

There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to motivating and engaging employees. Implementing a blanket recognition/incentive program without considering an individual’s motivating drives can actually be detrimental to employee engagement, as it can devalue individual preferences (not all employees appreciate a standing ovation at the monthly staff meeting).’

Want to increase employee engagement? Consider these options:

  1. Measure your employees’ level of engagement. To learn what employees think of their job and organization, consider conducting an Employee Engagement Survey. This is the most common way for employers to get a pulse on their workforce and it also gives employees the opportunity to share feedback anonymously.
  2. Increase communication effectiveness and develop better managers. Lack of communication and poor relationships between managers and employees are among the top drivers of employee disengagement.
  3. To better understand how to motivate and engage employees and to get a feel for their individual drives, needs, and behaviors, consider implementing a scientifically validated behavioral assessment program within your organization, such as The Predictive Index. Remember, there is no one size fits all when it comes to motivating and engaging employees.
Engaged employees outperform disengaged employees by over 200%

The ultimate goal of an organization is employee engagement. It will improve the bottom line, increase employee and client loyalty, and help to foster a well-rounded, productive, and frankly “happy” workforce.

1 Source: Gallup
2 Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
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