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What’s the real cost of employee disengagement?

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As a communications and engagement specialist, do you find you’re in a constant battle trying to justify your value to management? When business leaders place too much significance on numbers, leaving non-revenue generating roles under scrutiny, it can be difficult to define your worth numerically. This is especially hard when traditional metrics and KPIs that monitor performance don’t translate to your daily tasks.

From a business perspective, it’s very important that all departments are contributing toward the commercial goals and, whilst proving your worth may pose a challenge, ensuring business leaders understand the value of communication and engagement strategies will enhance business performance in the long run.

Global workforce consultants, Towers Watson, report that four out of five employees are not working to their full potential. They also state that only four out of ten employees are ‘highly engaged’, highlighting a huge area for improvement.

Further to this, Gallup estimate the cost of a disengaged employee at an incredible $3400 – $4000 for every $10k invested in their salary – and that doesn’t factor in the cost of recruitment or on boarding. This data clearly demonstrates the need for communication and engagement specialists in the workplace.

With almost half of the average workforce feeling unhappy or uninterested, and businesses throwing away thousands of pounds as a result, is there a way to improve engagement and reduce time wasting?

Fighting disengagement

The first step to fighting disengagement is to understand the key characteristics of someone who is unhappy at work. This might include:

  • Not being confident in their day to day tasks
  • Being uncommitted to projects/ delivery
  • Focussing on individual tasks, rather than the larger outcome
  • A lack of energy and enthusiasm at work
  • Spending a lot of time complaining or gossiping
  • Focussing on problems rather than solutions
  • Failing to demonstrate the corporate values
  • Doing the bare minimum

Strategy to boost engagement and productivity

Next, you’ll need to devise a comprehensive strategy that aims to boost engagement and productivity. You’ll also need to ensure you include a method of measurement, so that you can give your boss some numbers to crunch. The most common way to measure employee engagement is to use surveys, however this should be combined with other techniques. For example:

Pulse Surveys

Short, regular surveys that offer a numerical scale for employees to rate their feelings on a certain topic or to contribute ideas for change


An informal, monthly catch-up to discuss successes and areas for improvement

Exit interviews

A formal process to learn how the organisation can change or improve

Whilst the monitoring of employee engagement should always be a constant occurrence, the results should be communicated on a monthly basis, as transparency is a key factor in workplace satisfaction.

Following each engagement meeting, it’s advisable to start small by picking one or two key things to improve upon. Ideas should be brainstormed, assigned to an individual to manage and a goal should be set to measure each target.

This should then be followed up with and repeated. Engagement is not a ‘one stop shop’,and with consistency it is possible to see significant long-term improvements.  says Oak Intranet who write regularly on the topic on their blog.


Businesses need to be hyperaware of the contentment levels of their employees and take action to alleviate any discontent that can quickly become disengagement and thus impact on the dynamics of the business culture.