You know what it feels like to be in a work environment where employees are engaged. They're excited about work, inspired by purpose, inquisitive, highly participative, and they contribute great ideas. All vital ingredients to organizational culture, productivity, and influencing the top and bottom line.
Research by Choudhury & Mohanty (2019) as cited in Zeidan & Itani (2020) presents the following benefits of employee engagement:
In instances where disengagement prevails, progress won't be as achievable. Work stalls, quality diminishes, the employee and customer experiences falter, and revenues and profit are damaged.
Not every employee feels intensely connected to the mission of the organization. That disconnect can lead to loss of motivation, diminished enthusiasm, and a sense of existence, within the organization, without purpose. These can stem from poor management, lack of career pathing advancement opportunities, or toxic work atmosphere.
No matter the cause, disengaged employees are not doing exceptional work. They're not adding to the culture, and they aren't wowing your customers.
Alonso & Wang (2014) found, in survey, the following ranked results of disengagement:
Their continued research revealed that disengaged employees don't exit companies, en masse, as often as believed; instead, disengaged employees remain, inflicting continued damage on organizations and their people.
Average work, average effort, employee stick around, unbothered, while collecting a paycheck, and sales and revenue suffer. There's no grow for your company, when there's no go for your employees.
While disengaged employees may not leave all at once, their on-the-clock time may be dedicated to actively searching for opportunities elsewhere. When they are attentive to their responsibilities, they're doing average work or worse.
As they leave, costs of recruiting, interviewing, and onboarding increase. Though, the expense doesn't end there. When employees leave, their organizational knowledge follows. Remember, disengaged doesn't mean without talent or expertise. As these exits occur, and workloads are placed upon remaining employees, overwhelm and overwork increases, while team morale diminishes.
Most employees enjoy learning. Some take it upon themselves to ensure their continuous development. Rather than leave it to chance, there's benefit in organizing and offering professional development for employees. Whether by training, coaching, mentoring, job rotation, or other method, providing well-structured offerings with consistency can upskill employees, encourage them to take on new challenges, and foster a learning culture.
Attention to well-being is the 3rd element of our ways to increase employee engagement. We might believe that organizations care for their employees in providing comprehensive benefits and encouraging an environment of support, yet one might find that what's communicated during the recruiting process doesn't match with the experience in role. As an example, is "unlimited PTO" something that sounds nice in marketing to candidates, yet the on-the-job culture is one that discourages its use?
Employee well-being goes beyond this one benefit area, and includes items like health insurance, employee learning budgets, and flexible working arrangements, whether in-office, remote, or hybrid. Given the stressors of the pandemic, where overwork and burnout have resulted, it's also key to consider employees' mental health, and to provide support in this area, lending to appreciation, commitment, and employees who are best able to show up and perform to the best of their abilities.
Employee disengagement harms organizations. Disengaged employees aren't doing exceptional work. They're not contributing positively to the culture. And, they're not wowing customers. Terminating these employees, in the hopes of replacing them with engaged ones, isn't a sustainable solution. You'll still need to seek ways to increase employee engagement and address the root causes to change the existing culture.
Do this, and you'll attract, grow, and keep engaged and exceptional employees, who will do more productive and profitable work in an environment that everyone can be proud of.
Here's what to do next: ⤵️
David Bohmiller, MBA, MS (he/him/his)
Founder, CEO and Consulting Executive