Human Capital Management Blog

Strategies for HCM Professionals

Examining the cost of low employee engagement, and how to fix the problem

employee engagementThe basics of how to build a profitable business are well understood – if you can put together a talented workforce and ensure employee retention and productivity, you’ll be in a good position. But this is easier said than done. Even if your staff is loaded with good people, you also have to make sure they’re continually engaged.

Engagement is tricky because it can vanish at a moment’s notice. One day, your staff might appear focused and highly motivated – the next, they might lose that passion for what they do. It’s nearly impossible to predict people’s engagement from day to day.

Nevertheless, engagement does have a significant impact on workforce productivity. Research from Gallup indicates that 52 percent of workers in the United States today are not engaged, and 18 percent are even “actively disengaged.” It’s believed that this translates to annual productivity losses valued at between $450 billion and 550 billion.

What is your company doing to curb this growing problem?

New engagement challenges for a new generation
Part of the problem is that, with the recent arrival of the millennial generation in the workforce, companies are facing new challenges with keeping their employees engaged. According to HR BLR, there’s a great deal of statistical evidence to prove it – while the average American worker changes jobs every 4.4 years, that figure is closer to every 2 for younger employees.

In other words, it’s hard for people to be engaged when they’re always looking to quit. Daniel Kurber, director of learning and organizational development at MOXIE, told the news source that he sees this as a serious problem.

“Your employees will have somewhere between 10-20 jobs in their adult life,” Kurber noted. “Forget the cost of loss productivity, what is this costing your business in recruitment and selection? Then, once you get them in the door, what is the cost to onboard and train them?”

It’s not easy to deal with constant turnover due to a workforce that’s disengaged. The best way to fix this problem is to identify the root cause. Why don’t people love their jobs?

“The leadership case” for improving engagement
The simplest answer is that people tend to become disengaged with their work when they’re struggling to connect with their immediate supervisors. Good employee-boss relationships tend to translate to good work.

“Time and time again, studies show us that employees are leaving their leaders and not their organizations,” Kurber argued. “When leaders build trust and ultimately influence among their employees, the relationship between them becomes stronger and as a result, employees feel more of an obligation to perform for their leader. The result is increased organizational buy-in and engagement among employees.”

Building trust is the key for bosses who want to build a more engaged workforce. This can be done in the simplest ways – even spending a minute dropping by someone’s office to say hello can make a world of difference.

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