The true cost of disengaged employees

by | 08.06.2016
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Employee engagement is swiftly becoming one of the hottest topics in business. Every survey delivers the same indictment; internationally, a large percentage of the workforce say they are not engaged at work and as a result it’s costing businesses millions.

Everyone is in agreement that engaged employees are a huge benefit to any business. They add value, they champion their business and they work harder. There’s no doubt about it, engaged employees are a wonderful asset for any business.

Equally, the cost of employees who work without enthusiasm is a very real one. Essentially, businesses are in a position where they are paying a full-time employee who performs at the same level of a part-time employee.

Research carried out in Sweden by VD-tidningen (The CEO Magazine) found that by using the following equation (the percentage of unmotivated staff x cost of a half year’s salary x number of employees) it’s possible to work out the true cost of unmotivated staff and disengaged employees.


According to the magazine, if the company has 200 employees with an average full-time salary of £20,000 per person and 30 percent say they are unmotivated, it will cost the company £600,000 each year.

This is why having engaged employees is such a hot topic. If businesses can improve their percentage of engaged employees they will save a significant amount of money. But what’s also clear is employee engagement is not just the responsibility of the business, it’s also the responsibility of the employee.

Two employees in one company can have the same benefits, be paid the same salary and work in the same culture, with one being engaged and the other being unmotivated. The difference isn’t their surroundings, but their internal motivations.


There is no secret formula to improving employee engagement. However, businesses across different industries can buck the trend and improve their percentage of engaged employees by doing the following:


Empower employees

Give employees responsibility for their roles and their performance. Challenge them and inspire them to improve. Give them a reason to want to be better. Of course they need drive and determination to succeed but it’s much easier to be driven towards a goal when you’re inspired by those around you.


Lead by example

One of the biggest reason cited by employees for lacking motivation is poor management and leadership. When there is an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality in the workplace between employees and management it can quickly escalate to employees questioning the reasons they do their jobs. Leaders who are consistent, aspirational, motivational and part of the collective will always bring the best out of their employees. It’s tough being a great leader, but the businesses with great leaders will have a higher percentage of engaged employees.


Bring people together

Common purpose is a hugely powerful force in the workplace. In everything from service industries to the hospitality industry, the companies who create a strong identity, are clear and open about their goals and have a vision their employee buy into will also have an edge over their competitors and be more successful.


Make it fun

People have to enjoy work. Fact. They have to love Monday mornings, wake up excited about the day they have in store and leave with a sense of achievement. There is no reason work shouldn’t be fun and when we enjoy work, we ultimately perform better for longer and retain the desire to want to continue learning and improving.


Creating a culture for engaged employees never stops. It has to be worked on constantly by everyone in the organisation. When this happens, business reach a point where success and enjoying work go hand in hand.


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Tommy Tonkins

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