The cost of disengaged employees in the workplace, and how to go about changing it

Written by Wendy Dean, CEO.

Employee engagement has never been so high on the agenda for business. Ignoring it will be at your peril. 2022 has seen the biggest shift in employee satisfaction, with new terms like the silent resignation becoming common language, but why?

The UK is currently facing a disengagement crisis, with the potential of costing the UK economy more than £340bn each year in productivity, creativity, lost training costs and more. The same research, collated by employee benefits platform Perkbox, also revealed that a disengaged employee could cost the recruitment industry £3,103 more compared to an engaged employee.

Three in five employees admit to feeling disengaged from their workplace, whilst almost half of employees said their workplace has become unrecognisable within the past 12 months. According to findings from a poll produced by recruitment firm Robert Walters, some main reasons for employee disengagement include a decline in team socials (43%), fewer people working from the office (49%) and having a high staff turnover (54%). So how do we change this?

1. Radio silence
Begin observing your employees whenever the company celebrates a big win or takes part in engaging group activities. Is anyone seeming distant or disengaged to the group? Maybe they aren’t showing the same enthusiasm as everyone else.
Even if your employee is a known introvert and tends to keep to themselves, extended silence may be a starting sign of disengagement.

2. Quality and productivity
An obvious but crucial sign to take notice of is when a once hard-working employee is no longer performing like they used to. This includes both their efficiency and quality of their work taking a turn in the wrong direction.

3. Unhealthy activities
You may start to notice an employee leaving their workspace more often than usual for a coffee break or cigarette. Though this may just mean they’re tired or going through a stressful time in their life, frequent breaks from the desk could entail more, like a lack of motivation or no fulfilment upon completion of work. Employees who are truly engaged in their role will work diligently on their tasks, meet deadlines, offer insight and initiative, and will steadily produce a high level of work.

4.Negative instead of positive
People who start sentences with “the problem with that is” or who say things won’t work before even considering them. This may be true of some people, but you already know who they are. If someone who isn’t normally like this suddenly becomes negative, then that’s a problem.

So now you know some of the key signs of a disengaged employee. The second stage is how you change things. Disengaged employees can easily poison the well. If you’re experiencing some of the behaviours above, we have tools and tried and trusted methods to change the course of the road for you. We follow a five-step programme from governance to becoming a world class employer.

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