The Cost of Employee Disengagement

The unfortunate fact is well more than half of employees are disengaged at work. We know employee disengagement is bad—but exactly how bad? Let's look at some statistics that should put the issue at the top of your priority list...

Hi there. I’m Dr. Brett Wells, and I’m the Director of New Test Development here at Wonderlic.

Let me start with a few questions:

How do you approach work? Is it merely a job or is it your passion and calling? Do you work to live or do you live to work? Do you dread the start of workweek? How many times per day do you check the clock, counting down the minutes until quitting time? How much do you enjoy your work?

If you’re like the 70% of Americans who are disengaged at their jobs, then you probably have negative attitudes towards your work and organization. It’s fairly easy to spot disengaged employees:

  • They are less motivated and do not reinforce a high performance work culture.
  • They are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces, much of the time being the last to arrive and the first to leave.
  • They only meet the bare minimum requirements of the job, rarely exceeding performance expectations.
  • They do not share the same values of the organization and, under certain circumstances, may break the rules.

Simply put, disengaged employees do not see their jobs, careers, or professions as being a core aspect of their selves. Otherwise, they would be placing a great deal of energy, effort, and pride into their work. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that disengaged employees take a great toll on organizations and society.

For example, research shows that highly engaged employees tend to outperform their disengaged colleagues by more than 20%. In addition, companies with high levels of engagement had operating margins that rose by 3.74% over three years, whereas margins for companies with low levels fell by 2.01%. Last, companies with highly engaged employees had average gains in share price of 16% compared to an industry norm of 6%. In fact, virtually every study published on employee engagement clearly demonstrates positive relationships with desired organizational outcomes. Clients of companies with disengaged workforces should also be concerned. For example, hospital-acquired bloodstream infections were 18 times higher in disengaged hospital units as compared to engaged units.

Not only does disengagement affect the bottom line of your organization, but it can also greatly impact the psychological and physical health of your employees. For example, research shows a direct link between job satisfaction (a component of engagement) and burnout, depression, anxiety, and physical illness. Employees with higher or improved engagement both feel healthier and are more satisfied with their health.

Thanks for spending a few minutes with me today. Don’t forget to check out our blog for more videos and discussions about this issue, and you can find us on Facebook and Twitter to find news and information on workplace and human resource issues, student achievement, and more!

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