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6 Troubling Ways Disengaged Staff Impact Your Business (and How to Tackle it)

February 9th 2017

The fallout of employee disengagement goes further than dampening company morale, it impacts several key business outputs, from productivity to profit.

Aon’s latest Global Employee Engagement Index shows that worldwide employee engagement levels rose from 62% to 65%. Whilst this sounds like positive news, 35% of employees are not engaged with their work or workplace.

What is Employee Disengagement?

Employee disengagement is often confused with how unhappy or dissatisfied an employee is with their role.

But where engaged employees:

  • say positive things about the company’s products and services outside the organisation.
  • express an intention to stay at the company for a long time.
  • strive to give their best efforts to help the company succeed.

… disengaged employees are the opposite: openly saying negative things about the company, actively looking for other employment and making little effort to help the company grow.

Here are six disturbing ways disengaged employees affect your business and action you can take to tackle disengagement head-on.

Warning - Disengaged Employees On-board!

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a global enterprise or a start-up, research shows that having a significant percentage of disengaged employees on-board is detrimental to business success.

  1. High Staff Turnover – A disengaged employee isn’t planning a long-term career with the company and likely to be looking for other work.

    Statistics show that replacing an employee earning £25,000 costs over £30,000. Factors contributing to this cost include lost output while a new employee is brought up to speed (an average of 28 weeks) and the cost of recruiting and onboarding a new worker.

  1. 45% Less Productivity – Employee disengagement cuts company productivity by almost half.

    A study of UK employees reveals that staff believe they would be 45% more productive if they loved their job. Higher productivity leads to higher operational, efficiency, higher turnover and higher profit.

  1. Poor Customer Service – Disengaged employees aren’t going to go the extra mile to deliver great customer service – a pivotal factor for attracting and retaining loyal customers.

    Surly interactions, poor quality products and inefficient service can lead to customer complaints on the company website and social media feeds and customers broadcasting their dissatisfaction to connections on Facebook and Twitter. But the damage doesn’t end there. Statistics show 78% of customers have voted with their feet and ended a business relationship due to poor customer service.

  1. Disengagement is viral - Employee disengagement is contagious. Unless underlying issues are addressed, negative thinking and behaviour from disengaged employees can influence other employees. Even a small number of actively disengaged employees can spread bad feeling, weakening morale and company performance. 
  2. Negative Company Reputation – Eradicating employee disengagement is important for business survival. This may sound extreme but actively disengaged employees (with just reason) possess the power to blight and even topple companies.

    One recent high-profile example is retailer Sports Direct who became subject to investigation by MPs and Trade Unions for unfair pay and working practices.  Alongside significant ongoing reputational damage, the company reported a 57% drop in profits in the first six months to October 2016.

    Focussing on employee engagement and opinions, irrespective of company size, is critical for building a solid business and corporate reputation.

  1. Revenue Loss – Staff that aren’t emotionally invested in their work or workplace actively drive customers away impacting company revenue and profit. Whilst an enterprise may be able to withstand a decline customer numbers for a time, it can spell failure for start-ups and small and medium businesses.   

How to Improve Employee Engagement

Unfortunately, there is no quick-fix to improving employee engagement, it’s about developing, implementing and sticking to a robust, long-term employee engagement strategy.

  • Commit to an employee engagement strategy – CEOs and senior managers must commit to developing, integrating and upholding an employee engagement strategy. To create systemic rather than piecemeal change, employee engagement should be given as much priority as other day-to-day workplace activities. 
  • Measure employee engagement – To identify specific issues affecting employee engagement it is important to use a proven, validated employee survey, such as EEQA (Employee Engagement Quality Analysis) . EEQA accurately measures staff engagement, identifies key drivers of engagement and flags areas for improvement.
  • Create a visible improvement action plan – Use the survey findings to develop a visible, company-wide engagement action plan, along with timings and personnel responsible for engagement initiatives.
  • Measure change – Implement regular, consistent annual or biannual employee engagement surveys to measure the effectiveness of improvements, pinpoint which initiatives are working and where more work is needed.

Want to Engage and Re-energise your Employees?

TTi Global Research is the industry-leading provider of employee engagement research and analysis, employee surveys and staff questionnaires. We help businesses of all sizes optimise employees’ engagement, increasing business efficiency, performance and profit.

Like to know more? Contact our research experts today on or email us here.