Developing Leaders: The Ugly Truth About Disengaged Employees

Tulsa Accounting Services


Believe it or not, disengagement costs the US $450-550 billion each year in lost productivity according to Glassdoor. Seventy (yes 70) percent of employees are currently disengaged in the US. This is ridiculously high, and chances are there are many disengaged employees at your company.

First, let’s define an engaged employee. Engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and will ultimately move the organization forward.

Disengaged employees, on the other hand, are essentially “checked out”. They’re sleepwalking through their workday and may be putting in the time, but lack passion and energy.

Keep in mind, the 30% of workers that aren’t disengaged, aren’t necessarily engaged either. 

With all this being said, it’s important to get your workforce engaged with your company. This means tactful recruiting, retraining, and prudent engaging of talent.

Unfortunately, this isn’t just a problem in the US, this is a global issue too. 

Now, if the concept of disengagement is new to you, it would be wise to educate yourself about it so that you can go about battling it to limit losses and increase employee happiness.

5 ways disengaged employees hurt a business: 

1) They lose customers

Most US consumers will not forgive a business following poor customer service – and guess who is usually providing that poor customer service.. you probably guessed it! Disengaged employees. These employees are essentially firing customers through their lack of quality service.  79% of the US’s GDP is derived from the service sector, and a large number of US employees having direct contact with customers. 

2) They are not productive

This one seems blantantly obvious, but it’s important to see the numbers of HOW unproductive they are. According to a 2012 Towers Watson study, disengaged employees make 100 times the number of errors as their engaged colleagues. That’s 100 times more time, energy and money wasted. 

3) They take more “sick” time

Thsi equals money that you are dishing out for no work getting done. In fact, the average disengaged employee will take 2.3 times more sicks days than an engaged employee. According to Forbes, sick days costs US companies $576 billion dollars a year. 

4)They will leave your company

The most crucial reason employees leave a company is due to a lack of recognition and, according to a recent Harvard Business Review study, recognition also has the largest impact on employee engagement.  A recent StepStone survey reveals that 74% of employees rarely, or never receive praise from their managers.

5) They have a negative impact on profitability

A recent ADP study put the cost at $2,246 per disengaged employee per year. Additionally, companies with a highly engaged workforce experience a 19% growth in operating income over a 12-month period.

We just focused a lot on the negatives, but it’s ok because there is hope if you find that your company has more disengaged employees than you desire. Although it’s impossible to completely wipe out disengagement, there are ways to reduce it. Here is some advice from Glassdoor to solve disengagement:

  • Take in feedback. Read what your past and current employees are saying about you on Glassdoor. View your word cloud to see positive and negative themes arising among your employees.
  • Do something about it. Don’t just take in feedback – do something to change. Discuss what’s happening on review sites like Glassdoor with your management team.
  • Make a plan to engage your employees. Here are some tips we have for engaging your current workforce! It can also be helpful to compile all ideas into one place. Whether it’s an Excel spreadsheet, your Glassdoor profile or a Word document, keep all of your feedback in one place and make a plan.
  • Ask your employees to provide feedback honesty and regularly. This will help you see how people are responding to the changes you are making, what you can still do to improve, and the health of your overall organization. Also, get buy-in from employees on your messaging and employer brand – their opinion counts.

Chances are, disengagement is affecting your company, it’s profitability, and employee morale. It’s time to take action and create a concise strategy on how to beat it. It takes proper business management to obtain feedback on how employees act and perform every day in order to produce the output of a successful culture, happy and returning customers, and a profitable business. 


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