Hidden Cost

20 Aug 2012

The hidden costs of employee disengagement

A recent research poll of Australian workers has found that more than 80% of Australian employees feel disengaged and work, with more than 20% being actively disengaged, that is behaving in ways that are actively harmful to the organisation.  They estimated that disengagement costs Australian organisations at least $33.5 Billion a year in lost productivity.  It also has other negative social effects outside the workplace, with disengaged employees taking out their negative feelings on their families and having more health problems.

As discussed in our earlier blog How engaged are your employees, employee engagement refers to the extent to which employees believe in the values and mission of the organisation, are committed to their work and will act in ways that further the organisation’s interests.  It integrates the well-known constructs of job satisfaction and organisational commitment.

Engaged employees are focused and connected at work, supportive of organisational goals and are willing to “go the extra mile” at work.

Disengaged employees are distant and withdrawn emotionally or intellectually and perform their roles incompletely, without effort.  Actively disengaged employees who are not only unhappy but also underperform and undermine what other workers accomplish through their negativity.

These alarmingly high rates of disengagement appear to have remained reasonably steady since at least 2004.

Not only is employee disengagement harmful to the organisation and to the economy, it also has broader social consequences. The poll found that:

  • 43% of actively disengaged employees treated their family or friends poorly
  • 36% had been diagnosed with high blood pressure
  • Surprisingly, 45% planned to spend at least the next year with their current employer, which is likely to lead to further negative social and health outcomes as well as lost productivity

It is clear that increasing employee engagement has positive business, economic and social outcomes.

So how can organisations enhance employee engagement?

As discussed in our previous blog on the topic, the key characteristics associated with high employee engagement were:

  • Supervisors focusing on employee strengths
  • Supervisors actively facilitating organisational change
  • Supervisors being motivating and inspirational
  • A trusting and open work environment

Supervisors and the work climate are therefore vitally important in enhancing employee engagement.  Some of these ‘soft skills’ and organisational climate factors can be difficult to identify and measure.

RightPeople can help.  We have a range of organisational surveys that can be offered through our PeopleMetrics Surveyor product.  Our Employee Attitude and Commitment Survey is specifically designed to measure the range of attitudes and behaviours that are associated with employee engagement.  Our Leadership Development Survey provides directional feedback on key management competencies and identifies the competencies a leader may need to work on to improve his or her performance. This is a key tool given the importance of leaders in influencing employee engagement.

In addition, we offer

  • End to end project management
  • Expert survey construction
  • In-depth analysis of results
  • Detailed recommendations
  • Face-to-face feedback

Don’t let your organisation fall victim to the hidden costs of employee disengagement. Contact us to find out more about our PeopleMetrics Surveyor.

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