The True Cost of an Unengaged Workforce: Why Employee Experience is Essential

by Kaitlan Whitteberry on March 22, 2019

Your workforce is expensive. And rightfully so. They help bring your organization’s vision to life, and that expense is worth the cost. However, currently the gap between happy, productive employees and disgruntled, unproductive workers is growing, and it’s costing your company more and more in profits each day.

What Your Unengaged Workforce Is Costing You

Gallup’s infamous 2013 survey, which was conducted from over 30 million employees across 30 years, produced some pretty humbling statistics. While 87 percent of the global workforce is supposedly disengaged, nearly 25 percent of that total is actively disengaged – which means they are costing their employer more than their peers.

The difference between being disengaged and actively disengaged is an employees’ behavior. The latter are not only unproductive and unmotivated, they are unhappy. They go about their day at work acting out their dissatisfaction by undermining the positive work productive employees are doing. And it shows.

“An actively disengaged worker costs an organization $3,400 for every $10,000 of their salary.”

Which means your mid-level managers making $80,000 are potentially costing your company an extra $27,000 each year through negative behavior.

Why is the number of engaged workers so low? We have more choices of where and how we work, and the current employment rate is high. What could be the cause of this lack of enthusiasm and low involvement in the average workplace? Gallup believes it is the fear of change that is holding most companies back, and more importantly, a resistance to adopting technology.

How To Fix Employee Engagement Through Experience

Gallup believes companies have gotten into a habit of putting “process ahead of people” and ignoring the most important aspect of their organization, the individuals who work for it. If you don’t actively show your workforce they’re important, you’re not likely to see a rapid increase in motivation or loyalty. Employee engagement is directly reflective of the employee experience.

What’s a workplace leader to do? The first step is to make changes to how your organization treats your workforce. “Leaders must gain scientific insight into employees’ evolving wants and needs and learn how to build an exceptional workplace.” Shifting focus to the employee experience and increasing engagement is not a one-time program acting as a bandaid. This frame of mind has to be a continual extension of how your company operates. It has to become a priority in the way you do business.

You want to start thinking about treating your employees like you treat your customers. How is their interaction with your company each day? Do they have everything they need to do their job? Do they feel recognized and appreciated? Their experience is something you have absolute control over.

From the moment they walk in the door to the second they leave, there are two touch points that matter most.

Workplace design

  • This is critical in how your workforce interacts, and removing barriers increases the ease of doing collaborative work.
  • Using occupancy sensors and doing regular surveys of your workforce will give insight to how they want to work, so you can make adjustments to fit their needs.
  • Activity-based working environments have shown to increase productivity and employee satisfaction while reducing wasted space.

Workplace tools

As organizations continue to address the ongoing issue of employee engagement by positively changing the workplace experience, signs are pointing up. Gallup recently reported that “34 percent of employees are engaged” as of 2018, an all-time high. While this is an improvement, it’s a far cry from where we need to be. If companies continue to put their employees first, where they need to be, hopefully that 34 will slowly make its way towards that 100 mark.


Kaitlan Whitteberry

Kaitlan Whitteberry is a Magna Cum Laude graduate from the University of Missouri's journalism program, and currently focuses on iOFFICE press releases, software updates and related news.

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