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disengaged employee

Why You Can’t Afford Disengaged Employees

You routinely calculate your return on investments you can measure, such as supply costs, overhead and consulting. Even customer satisfaction can be gauged by certain analytics. Measuring the emotions of your human resources can feel elusive by comparison, so it’s easy for someone who loves numbers to just put the matter aside. The fact is, though, that the functioning of your human capital has as much bearing on your bottom line as do your shipping rates or insurance premiums. Disengaged employees are responsible for an estimated $450 to $550 billion annually nationwide, according to a Gallup poll. Here’s a closer look at what goes into that figure.

Crunching the Numbers

Leadership consultant Britt Andreatta uses some figures from Gallup to make a point about the value of employee happiness. She points out that a disengaged employee generally costs the company about 34 percent of his or her salary annually. The typical level of employee engagement in the United States is about 32 percent. That means that in a typical business, 68 percent of the workers are less than engaged. If even a few of your workers follow the Gallup formula of costing your business 34 percent of their salary every year, this amounts to a financial leak of near-crisis proportions.

How Actively Disengaged Employees Cost You Money

At this point, you may be looking at Gallup’s figures and shaking your head. Why do disengaged employees matter so much, especially if they’re on the job every day? After all, once they’re at work, they’re accomplishing tasks, right? So how can their state of engagement really cost the company money?

Employee Churn

Contented employees want to continue in their current positions. Replacing any member of your organization is a costly proposition, especially if that person has a deep, specialized knowledge of your organization. You can hire people with generic skill sets, but sometimes the most crucial skill is familiarity with the history and culture of your company. Just looking at averages, the estimated cost of replacing an employee ranges from 50 to 200 percent of the person’s salary. You will inevitably lose some employees due to life changes, but you don’t want to increase that figure by extra attrition from unhappiness.

Decreased Productivity

What would you do if someone parachuted you into a job you really didn’t like? You’d probably do the minimum necessary to stay out of the boss’s cross-hairs, and then spend the rest of your energy looking around for an escape hatch, wandering to the snack counter for another doughnut, checking out Facebook, organizing your email archives, or clipping dead leaves off your fern.

Productivity has other aspects besides sheer on-task time, though. Even if your employees are in roles that require steady focus, such as answering support calls or responding to customer needs, their general demeanor makes a huge difference. Are they glad to see each client? Will they go the extra mile to make sure the customer leaves happy? Your people are the face of your brand, and if that face is unhappy, it broadcasts a discouraging message. Conversely, an engaged, enthusiastic worker conveys a general sense of well-being to every potential and current customer who interacts with your business.

Damaged Workplace Culture

The feel of any workplace is vulnerable to the emotional moods of employees. You wouldn’t force your workers to remain at their desks if your company’s ventilation system was emitting a chemical that affected people’s energy levels and happiness, would you? Yet actively disengaged employees are going to have that same discouraging effect on everyone in the vicinity. Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup, comments that “Roughly 20 million (20%) of employees who are actively disengaged … roam the halls spreading discontent.” Their disconnection will not only make extra work for their colleagues but will also make otherwise happy employees feel much less positive about your company. If disaffected workers are actually close to their co-workers, the impact of their disengagement will be even stronger.

Think In Terms of Protecting Your Investment

The percentage of your overhead dedicated to employee compensation probably ranges from 15 to 50 percent, depending on your industry. If you bought a new piece of equipment for tens of thousands of dollars, you’d certainly make sure you were taking optimal care of it. If it needed a certain maintenance schedule, you’d assign an employee to check off every single item on that schedule. You’d manipulate your building so that the device had the optimal ventilation, temperature, power supply, and so on, even if that meant you had to clear a special place for it or install new wiring. Although you probably spend more on your workers than you’ll ever spend on equipment, you may not be in the habit of itemizing their needs with the same urgency. Unfortunately, employees don’t come with maintenance manuals. But just like a finely-tuned instrument, a human being has some very specific needs.

Employee Engagement Yields a Great ROI

Improving your employee alignment is one of the best ways to highlight your leadership and strengthen your company’s financial resilience. During today’s digital transformation, your business may be pouring significant resources into all kinds of infrastructure upgrades. Important as infrastructure is, though, no other spending category will yield the long-term ROI of investing in employee motivation. To learn more about the true cost of disengaged employees, check out Achievers’ white paper.

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employee engagement

6 Mind-Blowing Stats on Employee Engagement

If you’ve been casual about the topic of employee engagement or figured that your employees are probably doing fine (because you’d know if something wasn’t working, right?), it’s time to take a second look. Employee engagement can seem like a vague topic since it doesn’t show up as a line item on your end-of-quarter financials, but it actually has a significant impact on how nicely those numbers stack up. Here’s a handful of employee engagement stats we’ve gathered to capture your attention:

1. Over Half the Workforce is Actively Job-Hunting

Gallup published their State of the American Workforce report, which reflects the responses of over 195,000 American employees across every industry. This important study – the largest of its kind – found that 16 percent of American workers are actively disengaged while another 51 percent are “just there.” What’s more, 51 percent of those lackadaisical or disengaged workers are busily checking their inboxes and social media networks for better opportunities. And given today’s improved employment climate, the more talented among them are aware that they’re in high demand. 63 percent – almost two-thirds – of Gallup’s respondents expressed some confidence that they’d be able to find a job as good as or better than their current one.

2. 72 Percent Ranked Employee Recognition as Having the Greatest Impact on Engagement

A recent Achievers report revealed companies identified recognition as having the greatest impact on employee engagement. Furthermore, companies that invest in social recognition see an improvement in stock prices and NPS scores, as well as individual performance of employees. With 60% of companies planning to increase their investment in social recognition technology, don’t lose sight of the power behind employee recognition and its positive impact on employee engagement.

3. Businesses with Engaged Workers Have Double the Odds of Success

When Gallup researchers compared overall metrics of businesses in the top quartile of employee engagement with those unfortunate companies in the bottom quartile, the contrast was stark. The high-performing companies simply shone, with 28 percent less shrinkage, 41 percent lower absentee rates, 40 percent fewer quality defects and between 25 and 59 percent less turnover. When all these factors are merged into one unified picture, the result is a doubling of financial success for companies who know how to build a positive work culture.

4. Highly Engaged Businesses Are 70 Percent Safer

As Gallup examined the characteristics of the best-performing workplaces, its researchers noticed a big difference in safety statistics. Workplaces with the highest levels of employee engagement were much safer: They experienced 70 percent fewer employee safety incidents and (for healthcare providers) 58 percent fewer patient safety mishaps. The study concluded that these healthier environments result from the simple fact that engaged workers pay more attention to what’s happening around them. They’re not busy wishing they were somewhere else, checking their phones or nursing grudges. Instead, they’re watching what happens and communicating with co-workers about safety issues.

5. Disengaged Workers Have a 60 Percent Higher Rate of General Errors

In Achievers’ white paper, we learn a lot about the high cost of employee disengagement. Did you know disengaged workers have a 60% higher rate of general errors? And disengagement costs the U.S. economy $550 billion per year? It’s important to address any signs of disengagement before it becomes a larger issue. A great way to address disengagement right away is with an always-on, active listening interface that gathers feedback, asks questions, and gives updates, next actions, and ideas to both employees and managers to impact engagement right away.

6. Companies with Engaged Employees Have Five Times Higher Shareholder Returns

Research published in Business2Community shows the very material effect that your employee engagement has on that all-important bottom line. While you probably care about employee happiness for its own sake, you have to be able to present some clear figures and stats when you’re explaining the value of investing in HR technology to folks in the C-suite. They’ll be impressed to hear that shareholder returns measured over a five-year period were five times higher at companies whose workers reported being engaged. Also, it’s valuable to note that organizations with engaged employees outperform those with low employee engagement by 202%.

The key to keeping workers engaged isn’t a deep secret. Proven pathways exist to increasing your employees’ sense of personal well-being and dedication to their jobs. To learn more, access Achievers white paper: “2018 Employee Engagement Survey: HR Professionals Share Their Advice For a More Engaged Workforce.

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Employee Listening and Feedback

How to Show Your Workforce That You’re Really Listening

It’s no secret that the majority (87 percent) of today’s workers feel disengaged in the workplace. While there are many reasons for this high level of disengagement, employee complaints about employers not listening to them certainly ranks high on the list. In fact, a recent study revealed that more than one-third of the workforce believes that their employers do not listen to their ideas.

This is a staggering number and one that employers should not overlook. Not only can showing your workforce that you are really listening to them improve employee engagement levels, but it also can boost workplace morale, job satisfaction rates and overall retention. The good news is that listening to your employees is not as difficult as you might think. Here are some tips to get you started.

Let Employees Speak

The first step to really listening to your employees is to pave the way for them to speak. If your employees already feel like you’re not listening, you cannot expect them to spontaneously come to you with ideas or concerns. According to a recent study, more than 40 percent of junior-level workers state that they are afraid to bring ideas or concerns to upper management. Your employees will never feel heard if they don’t feel comfortable speaking up in the first place.

You can overcome this barrier by developing a platform for them to speak. Pulse surveys can be an extremely effective platform, especially when using an anonymous and easy-to-use interface, such as single-click surveys. Offering a fast and secure way for employees to voice their opinion can improve day-to-day engagement with your team and provide you with candid feedback.

Make Listening a Priority

It is not enough to simply say that you’re going to start listening to your workers, you must make listening to them a priority. It’s important to develop active listening skills, so your team knows that you are really listening to what they have to say. Improving your listening skills will make you a better leader and enable you to better manage your team.

Look for and create opportunities to listen to your team. For example, set time aside when conducting both individual and group meetings for your employees to discuss their work experience and provide constructive feedback. Once your team discovers that they are able to provide honest feedback without negative results from management, they will start to look forward to these opportunities to share their ideas with you.

Prepare to Hear the Good and the Bad

Don’t make a commitment to listen to your employees if you’re not ready to hear what they have to say. You must prepare yourself to hear both positive and negative feedback. How you respond to your employees, regardless of how you feel about the input, will have a direct impact on their willingness to give their opinions in the future. Remember that the goal is to show your employees that you are really listening to them, whether you like what they have to say or not.

Make Engagement Part of the Process

Listening is the starting point for boosting employee engagement in the workplace. When your employees express an opinion, it is important to actively listen to what they have to say by taking the time to ask questions, gather feedback and encourage them to elaborate more on their input so you have a rich understanding of what they’re trying to communicate.

Ensure that you’ve heard them fully by repeating back what you’ve heard, giving them an opportunity to clarify their points if necessary. Engaging with your people in this way will let them know that you are listening to them and it will reduce potential miscommunication between you and your team.

Take Action

Listening is only the first step. You must also take action. This doesn’t mean that you have to act on every suggestion or concern that your team has, but you should always closely evaluate what they have to say. Then, when you come across employee suggestions or concerns that call for more attention, don’t stop at just listening – take action.

Develop a plan that will put your employee’s idea into action. Technology can help with this by delivering bite-sized, personalized actions to employees and managers so that everyone is empowered to impact engagement right away. When your employees know that you are willing to make changes based on ideas or issues they have shared, they will know that you not only want to listen to them – but that you truly care about what they have to say.

Follow-Up Is Vital

Listening is not a point-in-time activity, it is ongoing. If you fail to follow up on the input you’ve received, your efforts to show your employees that you are really listening to them will be for naught. For example, take the time to thank your employees for providing honest feedback, let your employees know what actions, if any, are being taken, and use communication tools (i.e., the company newsletter) to share survey results and follow on action. It’s critical that your employees know you’ve heard them, even if immediate change is not possible.

Listening to your employees boosts employee engagement and job satisfaction. It inspires positive change in the workplace and has an equally positive impact on the performance of your business. Take the first step in really listening to your employees by downloading Achievers’ white paper, “Taking the Pulse of Employee Engagement.”

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About the Author
Natalie Baumgartner is the Chief Workforce Scientist at Achievers. She has spent her career advising companies of all sizes, from entrepreneurial startups to Fortune 500 firms, on issues related to company culture. Specifically tackling key hire assessment and portfolio due diligence issues, she’s found success analyzing what most overlook – the human element. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a specific focus on assessment and additional training in strength-based psychology. Natalie serves on the board of the Consulting Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association. She is a popular speaker on culture and recently did a TEDx talk on the importance of culture fit. Natalie is a culture evangelist and is passionate about the power that culture fit has to revolutionize how we work. As an avid Boot Camp aficionado, if you can’t find Natalie in the office odds are good you’ll bump into her sprinting up mountains in her hometown of Denver, CO.

 

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