Employee engagement has long been identified as a cornerstone of successful companies. Engaged employees are not only more productive, but they also contribute to a positive work environment, foster innovation, and elevate customer satisfaction. Yet, in various organizations, low employee engagement continues to pose significant challenges.
Understanding Employee Engagement
Employee engagement refers to the emotional commitment and involvement an employee has toward their organization and its goals. It signifies how invested employees are in their work, and it is more than just job satisfaction or motivation. Engaged employees genuinely care about their work and the success of their company. They aren’t just working for a paycheck or the next promotion; they work on behalf of the organization’s goals.
Employee engagement is more than just keeping employees happy and motivated. Engagement is about building a strong company and company culture that thrives and accomplishes the goals of not only the company but also its employees and customers.
There are several metrics used to measure employee engagement. Here are just a few:
- Employee satisfaction surveys
- Turnover rates
- Absenteeism rates
- Employee net promoter scores (NPS)
These metrics can help leaders understand just how engaged or disengaged their employees are. According to a Gallup report, 51% of employees are disengaged in the workplace, while 13% are actively disengaged. Although this poses a big problem for leaders, may still not see low employee engagement as a serious problem that they should focus on correcting. Let’s take a look at the ways low employee engagement is impacting businesses worldwide.
Damages Positive Company Culture
Low employee engagement is a silent yet formidable threat to company culture. It acts as a cultural corrosive. At its core, engagement reflects the emotional and intellectual commitment an employee has toward their workplace. When this engagement dwindles, it casts a shadow on the vibrancy and efficacy of the company’s cultural framework.
Low engagement sows seeds of disconnect. Disengaged employees are less likely to align with the company’s values, mission, and objectives. This misalignment erodes the cohesive bond that ties individuals to a shared purpose, leading to a fragmented workforce where personal agendas supersede organizational goals. As teams drift apart, collaboration wanes, and the cross-pollination of ideas—a cornerstone of dynamic company cultures—starts to crumble.
Furthermore, employee disengagement often spawns a culture of skepticism and mistrust. If employees feel their efforts aren’t valued or that they lack a sense of belonging, they may question the authenticity of leadership decisions and company initiatives. This cynicism can stifle positive change, with employees resisting new strategies or approaches out of distrust.
Low engagement is poison for leaders who are trying to create a positive company culture. It gradually eats away at the shared beliefs, values, and enthusiasm that define and differentiate a company. The outcome is a weakened, disjointed organization that struggles to innovate, adapt, and ultimately, succeed.
Reduced Customer Satisfaction
The ripple effects of disengagement extend to customer interactions. As employees often represent the face of a company, especially in service-oriented industries, their level of engagement can drastically affect customer satisfaction. When employees lack enthusiasm or commitment, the quality of service they provide can suffer. This decline in service quality can result in reduced customer retention. In an era dominated by online reviews and social media, a few negative experiences shared can quickly damage a company’s reputation, leading to potential long-term losses.
One report found that the best way to improve customer service is to focus on the employee experience. A study entitled The Employee Engagement Benchmark Report found that organizations that have more than 50% employee engagement retain more than 80% of their customers.
For the sake of customer retention and customer satisfaction, business leaders of all kinds should seek to increase their employees’ engagement.
Loss of Productivity
Low employee engagement is intrinsically linked to a decline in productivity. At the heart of productivity lies motivation, commitment, and a genuine interest in the tasks at hand. When employees are happy and engaged, productivity is 147% higher than in industries or companies where engagement is low. On the other hand, when employees are disengaged, their work suffers. There are several reasons why that is the case.
Firstly, an engaged employee sees a clear connection between their daily tasks and the larger objectives of the company. They understand the significance of their role and how it contributes to the broader mission. This perspective drives them to complete tasks efficiently and effectively. On the other hand, a disengaged employee might view their responsibilities as just things they are told to do so that they won’t get fired. This, of course, often leads to lackluster performances. Without a deeper connection to the company’s goals, employees’ motivations diminish..
An often overlooked effect of low employee engagement is the decrease in good communication amongst the team. Communication is a critical component of productivity. When employee engagement is low, communication suffers. This means that employees might not voice concerns, ask questions, or seek clarification when faced with challenges. This lack of open dialogue can lead to misunderstandings, misaligned priorities, and ultimately, a drop in the quality and quantity of work produced.
Decline in Team Morale
Low employee engagement is not just a challenge for businesses in terms of productivity; it also plays a pivotal role in shaping employee morale. When employees feel disconnected from their roles or the broader mission of the company, it creates a void. This void often translates into feelings of discontent, alienation, and lack of purpose.
Camaraderie and team dynamics take a hit when engagement levels are low. When employees are disengaged, they are less likely to invest in building relationships with their co-workers. This lack of connection can create an environment where team members feel isolated. This further exacerbates the decline in morale. In contrast, engaged employees actively contribute to a positive work environment. They are usually more encouraging and collaborate more often. You’ll witness them supporting one another during challenges. All of this is what you want from your team and can be had when you focus on increasing engagement.
Loss of Competitive Edge
Companies with high engagement levels tend to be more agile, innovative, and customer-centric. As a result, they have a significant advantage over competitors. Conversely, low employee engagement can result in a loss of this competitive edge, making it challenging for businesses to differentiate themselves in the market.
To compete in business, you need to use all tools and resources at your disposal. When employee turnover is high, some time and money resources are used to acquire new employees. The same is true with customer acquisition. As we mentioned earlier, employee engagement impacts customer retention. If engagement is low and a company loses customers as a result, the company needs to allocate resources to replace lost customers instead of growing its customer base.
All of this makes an organization less competitive in the marketplace. A company with a workforce that is disengaged will constantly be playing catchup to a company that has the stability to build its workforce and customers.
Increased Employee Turnover
Low employee engagement is a significant contributor to high employee turnover. When employees do not feel connected or valued, they are less likely to remain loyal to the company. And who would blame them? People don’t want to work in a place where there is no sense of purpose, or excitement or where they do not feel connected or motivated. As these feelings persist, employees begin to look for opportunities elsewhere. They begin seeking a job where they believe their contributions might be more valued and their professional growth better supported.
Also, disengaged employees might not have a strong relationship with their managers or colleagues, which can exacerbate feelings of isolation and insignificance.
Clear signs that your employees are not engaged are increased absenteeism and a rise in turnover rates. Conversely, employee engagement reduces absenteeism. A Gallup study shows that highly engaged workplaces saw 41% lower absenteeism. High turnover is not only costly in terms of recruitment and training expenses but can also negatively impact team dynamics. Leaders should always take immediate actions to improve engagement at the first sign of its decline. Otherwise, they may need to start looking for new employees.
Loss of Profitability
Finally, all of these things can lead to lost profits for the company. All of the above problems caused by low employee engagement can eat away at the profits a company aims to achieve. The cost of hiring employees who leave, acquiring new customers due to low retention rates, as well as loss of productivity, can all have a significant impact on the bottom line.
In fact, engaged employees outperform their peers who are not engaged. This increased engagement amongst employees has been shown to have a significant impact on profits. One report found that companies with high employee engagement are 21% more profitable than companies with lower engagement scores.
Entrepreneurs, business owners, and leaders are always looking for ways to increase profitability. However, one of the easiest and most advantageous ways can be to focus on their team’s level of engagement and address any issues affecting it.
The significance of employee engagement cannot be overstated. It’s an important component of a thriving business. By recognizing the adverse effects of low engagement and taking proactive measures to address them, companies can safeguard their growth, profitability, and overall success.