Disengagement is costing businesses billions each year in lost productivity and output. In fact, Gallup estimates that the 37% higher absenteeism, 18% lower productivity and 15% decreased profitability that comes disengaged employees deliver costs organisations over £3,000 for every £10,000 the staff member earns in salary. 

In the UK, the total estimated cost is £340 billion annually.

Across the pond, reports suggest around 34% of workers are engaged, 53% not engaged and nearly 17% are actively disengaged – and these numbers actually show improvement. 

And the engaged/disengaged problem is a huge issue for organisations. Creating an engaged workforce is a holy grail for most businesses – highly involved, enthusiastic, passionate about their work, the organisation they work for and creating great outcomes for colleagues and customers alike. 

Disengaged employees, however, go beyond simply being unhappy coming to work each day. They can actively undermine what colleagues and the company are trying to establish. However, an even bigger problem for organisations is actually disengaged employees who decide not to look for a new job and are happy to coast along for a paycheque! 

Engagement is a huge topic, and the combined parts that help create engagement within a workforce covers a range of areas. Not one single improvement will generate it, but a combination of factors can help move a culture towards this goal. 

There are though some key areas in which a company can have failings that can lead to disengagement but, get right, are some of the key factors that can help turn things around, get staff back on board with the company mission and begin producing great outcomes once more. 

Here are just five potential engagement killers to watch out for. 

The wrong tools for the job

One of the big bugbears for workers is not having the right tools to do the job they’ve been tasked with completing, and left unchecked can quickly lead to exasperation and disengagement. 

From the real basics such as having technology that’s not up to scratch, and down to finer details such as lack of communications tools, can all impact on an employees productivity, their output and stress levels as well. 

Every employee starts off by wanting to do their job well and to do it right. Not giving them the tools to do so can leave them feeling powerless. 

Poor relationships between managers and teams

The relationship between team leaders/managers and workers are critical for creating great collaborative working cultures and achieving great outcomes. For many companies, however, those relationships can cause more harm than good. 

The problem is even more pronounced should management themselves be disengaged. Disengaged management is unlikely to fire up the troops on a Monday morning to tackle a stacked to-do list and they’re unable to lead effectively. 

In fact, Custom Insights suggest that of 10 primary drivers of engagement, the top five all relate to feelings towards and actions of management. 

A lack of recognition

With millennials set to make up 75% of the workforce in under six years, understanding that this age group wants and requires more regular positive feedback and recognition than any demographic that’s come before them is a critical realisation for organisations to make – and act upon. 

Around 16% of millennials are actively disengaged, whilst the vast majority overall wouldn’t class themselves as actively engaged in their work. 

Receiving employee recognition for this age group is critical for creating long-term engagement. It creates confidence that what they’re doing is correct, that their knowledge is sound and that their daily efforts are appreciated by the company as a whole. 

An over-reliance on managers to motivate and show appreciation 

Managers are busy people. They’ve their own workload to focus on, objectives and targets to meet and teams of employees to manage and pull in the same direction. Yet for too long, managers have been expected to be the sole standard-bearers of motivation, driving productivity and recognising efforts and great work that needs to be appreciated. 

Organisations that have gotten employee engagement right are usually the ones that recognise this and lift that burden from management by making both collaboration and recognition easier between colleagues. 

Adopting technology such as team comms tools and peer-to-peer recognition software are both great examples of empowering staff to communicate and recognise each other’s achievements themselves, removing the need for managers to have to fix every problem or spot and appreciate every job well done.

Poor training and career progression opportunities 

Focusing on millennials once more, failing to offer training and career progression opportunities can also negatively impact motivation and engagement levels, and will ultimately result in a steady churn of some of an organisation’s most talented individuals exiting the door. 

Employees who feel stuck in their jobs and that they’re going nowhere in their careers are going to struggle to put their best foot forward each morning. And whilst it’s impossible for companies to promote every employee, they can provide great learning opportunities to staff – perhaps via an annual learning budget for online courses or by providing in-work time to upskill – that will create that sense of continued professional development within workers. 

When employees get better at what they do, the whole organisation benefits, and the resulting positivity and motivation can be contagious.

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