The Real Cost of Disengaged Employees

Diversity in teamwork

When looking at team and individual performance statistics we usually focus on the potential loss of revenue or the cost of under-performance.  In fact looking at statistics from KPMG’s report entitled “The Real Value of Engaged Employees” gives us a clear picture of what happens when staff become disengaged:

KPMG The real value of engaged employees

Some of these statistics are huge when you consider that it doesn’t take nuclear science to make a few changes that will bring this sort of turnaround.  Genuine changes in attitude, approach and effort at the leadership level can bear fruit very quickly.  This is provided it is the right effort and it involves recognising and understanding that the people they employ are not all the same, and that a one size all approach is never going to work.

Although company revenue seems less relevant to Government agencies and not for profit organisations, engaged staff are just as important and will positively impact budgets,especially the expense line.  However, there are other non-monitary impacts that can have far-reaching effects that need to be realised.

Not all costs have a monetary value!

This morning I was reading an article in the local newspaper about a Government ICT project that is having issues.  This is a sensitive project and publishing the content of a confidential report is not particularly helpful for those who are trying to protect the country.  It named the consultancy firm who wrote the report and gave very detailed account of the review findings that been reported.

Leaking to the press such reports is a huge ‘no-no’ for both public servants and contractors who all sign a confidentiality agreement that is perpetual and has severe consequences if breached.  So one imagines that the whistle blower of this particular report must fall within the disengaged staff category.

To make matters worse, half way down the article the said newspaper included an advert (and I quote) “Do you know more?  Send confidential tips to …..”  An open invitation for more disengaged staff to ‘get even’ or embarrass their organisation.  The media hides behind statements like “the people have a right to know” but do they when it is handing a definite advantage to those who break laws or thwarts practices aimed at protecting the public and avoiding loss of life!

In these times when criminals have far deeper pockets than governments, those employed in public services need to feel valued, engaged and above all WANT to do a job that recognises their skills and talents.  Creating high performing teams in the public sector is paramount to providing the services needed at a price governments can afford.  Not to mention the need to retain knowledge and skills that keep a country safe and functioning.

Why do staff become disengaged?

In my many years of experience working in both the private and public sectors I have never found anyone who, when initially employed, have deliberately wanted to do a ‘bad’ job.  However, being recruited into roles that do not capitalise on natural talents, or pigeon holing people into jobs where they are not ‘in-flow’ (i.e. it does not align with their innate personalities) will always eventually lead to loss of morale, lower productivity and accountability.  In some extreme cases this leads to disruption and loss of integrity, as is the case with the leaked confidential report.

Engaged staff who are valued and enjoy what they do, do not look for other opportunities, do not take extra ‘sickies’ and are the first to volunteer when that ‘extra mile’ is required to get something urgent or important across the line.

Also in my experience, many Executive completely under-estimate their staff as individuals who have intelligence, feelings and driving values.  One size does not fit all when it comes to processes, communication, learning, motivation and management.

How to create engaged employees

The GOOD NEWS is, you only need to learn four different simple approaches, and for these to become second nature (and genuine) in everything you do, to pretty much cover everyone within your organisation.

 It also often doesn’t take much to create engagement and loyalty.  I discovered this a while ago when I was leading a team of skilled professional, where it was necessary for them to temporarily relocate from Asia to Europe to complete a project.  One previously high performing team member became very unproductive and difficult to work with.  Upon investigation it turned out that leaving his wife and young son at home was causing major issues for him, even though he flew back every two weeks.  The solution was simple, instead of the airfare being spent on flying him home, we flew his wife and son over and provided a slightly larger room at no extra cost to the organisation.  However, what we did gain was a grateful staff member who was happy, motivated and whose productivity went up 300%!!!  We understood his values and what was important to him and we engaged in a way that was meaningful, this was a true ROI.

I work with many organisations to create engaged individuals and high performing teams.  The biggest shift always happens when team members get the understanding of ‘trust and flow’.  Years of blockages or opinions about their colleagues drop away within one session and they realise it wasn’t personal and their colleague was just acting in a way that was natural to them.  They come away from the workshop with a whole new respect for each other and see ways of distributing the work better to capitalise on the talents within their team.

So, if you want more revenue, higher staff productivity, more fun in the workplace and greater continuity (as well as no whistle blowers!!!)  then look at how to understand the talents of your staff better and then how to capitalise on this new found knowledge to create your own high performing teams.

Gillian Anderson is a Director of Radial 1 Consulting, a Talent Dynamics Performance Consultant and an Associate of Teamdynamics.com.  She works with small businesses through to multi-national and public sector organisations to build high performing and engaged teams.  She also works with individuals and families to better understand themselves and their relationships – after all families are just another form of a team.

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