How Disengaged Employees Can Hurt Your Business

The coronavirus pandemic has caused widespread disruption across the globe, forcing a number of business leaders to rethink their processes in order to keep their businesses afloat and reinvigorate any disengaged employees they’re currently in charge of. 

From losing clients to losing revenue, the mass chaos that many businesses will have had to endure over recent months will have forced leadership staff to refine their focus and make an abundance of difficult decisions to prioritise their business.

To furlough or not to furlough, that is the question

One of the difficult decisions business leaders will have to have made recently will have been choosing which staff to keep on throughout the pandemic, and which to either furlough or let go. And, according to reports from The Guardian, it seems like most businesses opted for the latter, with nearly a quarter of the entire British workforce furloughed back in May. 

However, while many businesses will have been significantly helped out by the government’s furlough scheme, now that the world is finally entering back into some semblance of normality, it’s important to consider the impact that being furloughed will have had on the staff involved – both mentally and from a working perspective. 

Treating staff as if they’re temporary, only there to work when an employer needs them to, can have a huge impact on their mental wellbeing, loyalty to the job and, most importantly, their engagement with the work – which is what we’re here to talk about today.

In this article, we discuss six key reasons as to why having disengaged employees on your roster could have such significant repercussions on your business, both internally and externally. 

Disengaged employees limit their own development 

If an employee is disengaged with their work, the chances are pretty high that they’re not going to be overly thrilled at the prospect of needing to do more on top. As such, they will be much less likely to source training and development opportunities for themselves which, in turn, would help your business out. 

This lack of staff development will not only affect staff morale, but it will also lead to your business unintentionally developing a skills shortage. Say you work in a digital marketing agency, for instance. If your staff are failing to keep up to date with the latest SEO and marketing strategies, your business will only suffer and fall behind its competitors as a result. 

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It is, therefore, vital for employees to feel like they have the opportunity to learn new skills and train in a way that will benefit their role. Even if they’re still currently furloughed, staff need to feel like they have something to offer to your business. Otherwise, they could start questioning how and why they have a place there, leaving them feeling disengaged from their work as a result. 

Disengaged employees have reduced levels of productivity

The less engaged an employee is with their work, the less they’ll care about getting it done in time. and, therefore, the less work they’ll get done as a result. But that’s not all you have to worry about.

According to research, disengaged employees cause approximately 60% more errors in their work and frequently fail to meet the minimum expectations of their job role.

Similarly, actively disengaged staff members have been shown to have a much higher likelihood of pursuing other job opportunities, costing global businesses approximately £438 billion per year in staff turnover and working maintenance costs. 

However, when you flip this the other way around, highly engaged teams have been shown to exhibit a much higher level of productivity and a reduced level of staff absences. As a result of this, the processes used within the business typically become a lot more streamlined and customer-focused, leading to an increase in overall profitability and a higher level of staff loyalty.

Disengaged employees offer a negative customer experience

When a customer or client comes to a company, they’re looking to be impressed. They want your business to demonstrate to them why they should commit to fulfilling a service with you, spending their hard-earned money. It is, therefore, imperative for your staff to set a good first impression, in order to make this initial customer experience as positive as possible.

However, if an employee is feeling particularly disengaged with their job, they will be much less likely to ensure that this customer interaction is productive.

This is proven in research as well, with statistics finding a direct correlation between the engagement of employees with a company’s customer experience ratings; the more engaged an employee is, the better customer experience rating.

If you recognise that one of your employees isn’t as engaged with their work as they once were, ask them about it in a constructive manner. Otherwise, their lack of motivation could trickle down to the customer, affecting their desire to work with you and your business.

Disengaged employees damage the company culture

Employees tend to replicate the atmosphere of the workplace they surround themselves with. Therefore, if they work in an environment where they feel supported and encouraged to perform their role, they are going to be much more likely to feel engaged with their work.

However, the same could be said the other way around as well. By working in a dysfunctional atmosphere, this will only lead to a widespread disengagement across the entire workforce, increasing the probability of staff absences, understaffing and staff burnout.

This, in turn, will then have a ripple effect on other staff members, putting an added pressure on their shoulders to cover for the disengaged employees.

Disengaged Employees Can Hurt Your Business

Image: Pexels

Disengaged employees make other workers feel the same

While on the subject of employees replicating the atmosphere of their surrounding work environment, if a staff member is feeling disengaged with their work, that feeling could end up spreading around the office like a virus. 

As a result of this, the entire workforce could end up feeling as disengaged as each other, creating an atmosphere of awkwardness, discontent and a complete lack of productivity. 

This, in turn, could weaken morale and negatively impact company performance, creating a mountain to climb for managers and business leaders to get staff back on side, working as productively as they were before. 

Disengaged employees are more likely to leave

It will probably come as no surprise to you to hear that, the less engaged an employee is with their work, the higher the likelihood is that they’re going to leave in the not too distant future. 

While you may see this as a good thing, since you’re effectively getting rid of an employee that doesn’t want to be there, having a high staff turnover rate can look very bad on your business. 

It can also cost a significant amount of money to replace an employee – up to £30,000 according to some estimates – mainly due to the cost of recruiting and the level of training required to bring a new employee up to the required standard. 

It is, therefore, imperative to do what you can to encourage that employee to stay, tackle their disengagement issues and re-establish themselves within the workforce. Otherwise, it won’t just be them your business will be losing, it’ll be an awful lot of money as well. 

In Summary

As the points listed above prove, having a disengaged employee in your business is very bad news. 

Not only do you have their own level of working inefficiency to worry about, but you also need to consider the potential knock-on effects that working around said employee could have on your other members of staff. 

From disrupting company morale to negatively impacting the customer experience, disengaged employees can be incredibly damaging to a business in more ways than you might think. 

However, rather than simply getting rid of any employees who aren’t working as well as they were before, it’s important to delve deeper than that by working with them to ascertain why they’re less engaged. 

Whether they’ve got a personal issue or are simply bored of their career, sit down with them to identify ways in which you can get them back on track. That way, you’ll save yourself a lot of money in terms of rehiring costs but you’ll also give that staff member a new lease of life, encouraging them to work more effectively to the benefit of your business. Now, what’s not to like about that? 

About The Author

Dakota Murphey has worked with a range of established companies as a business growth consultant. Since becoming a full-time Mother she’s turned her hand towards sharing her knowledge and experience through her writing and connecting with other industry professionals. Follow her on Twitter.

Team 6Q

Team 6Q