Disengaged employees can be a financial and competitive drain on companies. However, an organization’s culture and level of employee collaboration can engage employees and improve productivity.


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Disengaged Employees

Disengaged employees are essentially “checked out”. They’re sleepwalking through their workday, putting time—but not energy or passion—into their work. Consider these statistics from the Harvard Business Review and Gallup:

  • 52% of US workers are present, but not engaged or inspired at work
  • 30% of US workers are engaged and inspired at work
  • 18% of US worked are actively disengaged
  • Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost the US $450 to $550 Billion in lost productivity each year

Employers are rapidly catching on to the positive ROI of investing in their employee engagement efforts. The current annual employee engagement spend in the US is $720 Million. This is expected to increase drastically to about $1.5 Billion over the next 10 years.

  • Increasing employee engagement investments by 10% can increase profits by $2,400 per employee, per year
  • Highly engaged employees are 38% more likely to have above average productivity
  • Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%
  • Companies with engaged employees cs. competitors with low engagement levels enjoy 2.5X more revenue growth
  • Highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave the company they work for than their counterparts
  • $11 Billion is lost annually due to employee turnover

Company Culture

Company culture refers to the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact. Culture is not expressly defined, but develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of the people the company hires. According to ClearCompany:

  • Peers and camaraderie are the #1 reason employees go the extra mile—not money
  • More than 90% of CEOs state that culture is important at their firms
  • 92% of CEOs believe improving their firm’s corporate culture would improve the value of the company
  • Only 15% of CEOs say their firm’s corporate culture is where it needs to be
  • More than 50% of CEOs say corporate culture influences productivity, creativity, profitability, firm value and growth rates

Employee Collaboration

Consider the following:

  • 28 hours per week are spent writing emails, searching for information, and internal collaboration
  • 49% of millennials use social tools for collaboration
  • 40% of millennials would even pay out of pocket for social collaboration tools to improve productivity
  • 75% of employees rate teamwork and collaboration as “very important”
  • 18% of employees are evaluated on communication at their performance reviews
  • 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures
  • 39%  of employees say people in their organization don’t collaborate enough
  • For 20-30% of organizations, poor communication and unsupportive company culture is an employee retention issue
  • 97% of employees and executives believe a lack of engagement within a team impacts the outcome of a task or project
  • 90% of employees believe the decision-makers should seek other opinions before making a final decision
  • 40% of employees believe that decision-makers “consistently fail” to seek another opinion

Benefits of Engaged Employees

Organizations with a high-level of engagement report 22% high productivity. With high engagement, thigh-turnover organizations report 25% lower turnover, and low-turnover organizations report 65% lower turnover. Businesses that report above average employee engagement have a 70% higher likelihood of success than those with below average engagement.

Engagement also improves the safety of employees. Molson Coors found that engaged employees were five times less likely than disengaged employees to have a safety incident. A fortune 100 manufacturing company was able to lower their quality errors from 5,658 parts per million to just 52 parts per million over only a few years.

Examples of How to Improve Employee Engagement

REI uses social media to promote interaction with employees. Its online “company campfire” offers associates and executives the ability to share their thoughts in lively debates and discussions. Over 4,500 of its 11,000 employees have logged in at least once since it was launched last year — demonstrating that having a voice matters to engagement.

Mentoring is a big priority at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Its formal mentoring program helps employees develop professional goals and connect with colleagues. This commitment to growth shows employees there’s a future for them.

DHL Express takes employee engagement seriously win the office, on the roads and in the air. It has an incredible culture of thanking employee, whether that’s through monetary rewards, honoring top performers at its annual Hollywood-style black-tie event or pinning notes of appreciation on the company cork board.

How to Engage Employees

1) Get to Know Your Employees

Highly engaged employees respond much more favorably to the question, “Does my supervisor care about me as a person?” than disengaged employees.

  • Talk to employees
  • Ask them questions about their lives and interests
  • Invest time in team building exercises that focus on getting to know each other
  • Encourage employees to tell you about their problems, issues, frustrations and successes

2) Provide Basic Training

Highly engaged employees respond 96% favorably to the statement “I have a clear idea of my job responsibilities” vs. 37% favorably for disengaged employees.

  • Hold employee orientations
  • Provide refresher training on a regular basis
  • Ensure training are focused on different learning styles

3) Develop People

Highly engaged employees respond 83% favorable to the statement “I have received the training I need to do a quality job” vs. 12% favorably for disengaged employees.

  • Provide opportunities for ongoing training and development
  • Survey employees to determine training needs
  • Create a culture of learning

4) Recognize Employees

Highly engaged employees respond 83% favorably to the question, “How satisfied are you with the recognition you receive for doing a good job?” vs. only 3% favorably for disengaged employees.

  • Tell employees when they have done a good job
  • Hold celebrations or provide rewards
  • Be genuinely appreciative

5) Encourage Teamwork

Highly engaged employees respond 92% favorably vs. 5% for disengaged employees when asked if “People in my department work together as a team”.

  • Provide team rewards
  • Offer time for team building
  • Create team projects

6) Build Customer-Focused Teams

Highly engaged employees respond 90% favorably to the question, “Are my coworkers dedicated to providing exceptional service to our clients/customers?” vs. 3% for disengaged employees.

  • Focus work processes on customers
  • Reinforce the company’s mission and vision
  • Recognize employees for quality customer service
  • Solicit feedback from customers for improvement ideas

7) Coach Employees

Employees who are highly engaged respond 80% more favorably to survey questions about receiving coaching and feedback from their managers.

  • Provide ongoing reviews on a consistent basis
  • Empower employees with responsibilities
  • Avoid micromanaging

8) Act of Employee Feedback

Employees who are highly engaged respond 68% more favorably to the questions about taking action based on employee input and survey feedback than disengaged employees.

  • Make changes and improvements based on feedback
  • Make sure the changes are made public
  • When explaining changes, connect them to the feedback that was received

What will it take to fully engage your employees? Sit down and chat with them today about what they need from you.