Employee Engagement II : Linking Workers to Significance

“The days of the hard-nosed, profit-obsessed CEO are slowly coming to an end. While most businesses expect people to work hard, CEOs now realise that it’s the soul of the business that inspires people to contribute.”  —Josh Bersin, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP

The first article in this series, Employee Engagement I: Linking Managers to Workers, outlines the realities surrounding employee engagement. Research conducted by organisations like Gallup, AON Hewitt, Towers-Watson, Deloitte, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers consistently show that more than 70 percent of the workforce is disengaged.

When disengaged workers leave, the cost to replace them ranges from 16 percent to 213 percent of their annual salary. Companies spend over $720 million each year on employee engagement, and that’s projected to rise to over $1.5 billion. The Gallup Organisation estimates that there are 22 million actively disengaged employees costing the economy as much as $350 billion dollars per year in lost productivity including absenteeism, illness and other low morale issues.

This workforce is divided into thirds — the top 30 percent is engaged and productive, the middle 35 percent are disengaged and looking for work elsewhere, which leaves the bottom third populated by disengaged employees with no intention of leaving whatsoever.

And yet, employee engagement is at record lows.

Of the 70 percent of employees that are disengaged, only half are seeking employment elsewhere. That leaves a dangerously high number of employees, approximately 35 percent, remaining in the workforce. They are draining productivity and adversely impacting Company culture and reputation.

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