The High Cost of Employee Disengagement

“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” Simon Sinek  

For today’s businesses and their leaders’, happy, truly engaged employees are becoming a distinct competitive advantage, while, at the same time, rapidly increasing numbers of disengaged team members are costing companies across all industries some real money in unproductive time, lost employees and clients, and missed opportunities.

The problem of employee disengagement has become acute in today’s post-pandemic, hybrid-work environment. According to Gallup’s “State of the Global Workplace: 2023 Report,” employees who are not engaged or who are actively disengaged cost the world $8.8 trillion in lost productivity. That same Gallup report found that employee engagement in the US hit a 10-year low in 2023, with Gen Z employees in particular feeling disconnected from their company’s goals and culture.

So, what exactly is employee engagement? The term is defined as a “psychological commitment to one’s work, team and organization.” It’s influenced and shaped by several constantly changing factors, including relationships with co-workers, managers, and business leaders, as well as the employee’s level of passion for the work they’re doing every day. Engaged employees are more productive, more adaptable to change, and generally more enthusiastic and happier in their jobs. They are actively, emotionally involved in the company’s success.

According to the Gallup study, decreasing the number of disengaged employees pays big dividends on all fronts and “drives positive outcomes” for any organization. Compared with their non-engaged competitors, businesses with truly engaged teams enjoy high levels of employee well-being, along with increased sales and profitability.

Considering the depth and urgency of the problem, developing that happy-and-engaged team and fostering an inclusive, welcoming company culture should be at the top of any effective leader’s to-do list. Fortunately, there are steps leaders can take to proactively engage team members and elicit the kind of honest, productive feedback that builds engaged, productive employees.

  • Listen first. Frequent, informal back-and-forth conversations with employees, with the leader doing a lot of active listening, can go a long way toward building authentic relationships and team morale.
  • Clearly Communicate goals. With everyone on the same page, feeling included, and focused on the target, teamwork improves and productivity soars.
  • Clarify and lay out the purpose of the assigned work. Make it clear to employees the rationale behind their work. If possible, put their contribution into the larger project or program context.
  • Foster enthusiasm. It’s no secret that people tend to do better work when they love what they’re doing. As a leader, keep your eyes open for opportunities to put employees together with jobs they truly enjoy.

    Get help from a coach. Your employees are the heart and soul of your organization, your most valuable asset. At FocusWorks, we’re seasoned experts in helping leaders and their companies make the most of that important asset. FocusWorks’ customized training programs will help you put workable systems in place to ensure that each of your team members is valued and respected for the unique talents they bring to your business. FocusWorks’ executive trainers help your team members develop their skills so they’re ready to take on new challenges, embrace possibilities, and produce at the highest levels.