Paul Whitelam | 06.20.17
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It’s not uncommon for employees to feel their accomplishments and efforts are ignored by their company. As a result, a mere third of the United States working population is engaged. The two-thirds of employees who are disengaged, are twice as likely to say they’ll quit in the next year.

In last week’s Employee Engagement installment, we learned that employee engagement creates loyal, productive employees and satisfied customers. The alternative, however, can mean severe consequences for your organization. This week we’ll discuss the costs of low employee engagement, and how to avoid it.

Let’s begin by looking at different levels of engagement. Gallup defines three levels of employee engagement in their State of the American Workplace report. Where does your workplace rank?

Engaged – 33% of US Employees

Engaged employees are highly involved in their organization. They feel passionate about their work and enthusiastic in their workplace. They are less likely to miss work, bring in more profits, and understand the needs of their customers. Because they’re happy at work, they drive innovation and move the organization forward. If this sounds like your employees, you’re in a good place.

Not Engaged – 51% of US Employees

Unfortunately, disengaged employees are a lot more common. These employees feel disconnected from their work and company. They lack passion and energy because their engagement needs aren’t fully met. It’s likely they’re only there for the job stability and paycheck, so they put in their hours, but they’re essentially checked out. They work for you now, but they’re actively searching for new opportunities.

If this sounds like your employees, it’s time to up your engagement game. But all is not lost, there’s still time to improve their work lives before any real damage is done.

Actively Disengaged – 16% of US Employees

The employees you should worry about most are those who are actively disengaged. These employees aren’t just unhappy at work. They’re resentful because their needs aren’t being met, and they act out their unhappiness. They have an aggressively lower morale and are much less productive. Not only are they not getting their work done, but some will even undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.

If this sounds like your workforce, you must act fast before it affects your entire organization. You might want to let go of these employees, and you definitely need to rethink your employee engagement strategy.

What are the costs of a disengaged workforce?

While engaged workplaces result in 21% greater profitability and productivity, disengaged workplaces have the opposite effect on the organization’s prosperity and growth. They can be profit killers, drive away customers, and bring down engaged coworkers. Let’s look at what could be negatively influenced by a disengaged workforce.


According to Gallup, disengaged employees cost the US $483 billion to $605 billion each year. That’s not a number to take lightly.

Disengaged employees take more time off work because they don’t like being there. This means you might be paying them when they’re not working, or that you need to call in additional resources to fill in. These employees are also less productive because they don’t care about their work. Disengaged field service technicians might have low first-time fix rates, which could cost you customers and revenue.

Brand Reputation

Remember that your employees are your brand ambassadors. This is especially true in field service, where your techs are likely the only point of contact with your customers. If a disengaged tech is rude to customers and leaves a job unfinished, they won’t be the ones getting the blame. Your customers will blame the company as a whole. And in the digital age where news spreads fast over social media, even one unhappy customer can harm your reputation and drive future customers away.


Just as bad news spreads fast and far, so does bad energy. If one employee is openly and visibly unhappy, it will soon affect the attitudes of other employees. Likewise, if employees are speaking negatively about the company, it will probably spread and turn others against the organization.

Don’t underestimate the power of recognition

Imagine you’re a tech who has been asked to cover the shifts of a sick employee on top of your already scheduled tasks. You had to come in early, your day is completely booked, and you know you’ll have to work late. Still you work tirelessly, and complete every job. By the end of the day, you’re drained and ready to go home. Instead of thanking you for your hard work today, your manager tells you to come in early again tomorrow.

Thinking that your efforts aren’t appreciated, you might not feel as motivated to work as hard the next day. If no one values your hard work, why put in the extra effort? Perhaps if your manager took you aside and thanked you for taking on extra work, it would be a different story.

Workplace recognition motivates employees and gives them a sense of accomplishment. It’s also been found to increase productivity, loyalty to the company, and higher retention rates. Not to mention, it’s a very easy way of improving employee engagement. It’s not difficult or time consuming to say a simple thank you. And it doesn’t have to be costly. Believe it or not, money is not the top form of recognition. These methods also work:

  • Public recognition – Give employees awards or certificates for their achievements, or even praise them in front of the team.
  • Private recognition – Take your employees aside and personally let them know you’re proud of their achievements. It’s valuable, especially coming from a boss or upper level management.
  • Customer Evaluations – Give your customers an opportunity to review the technician, and be sure to share any praise given.
  • Promotion – Award your employees by allowing them to grow in your organization. If a promotion is not an option, give them more responsibility to show you trust them.

Just as swiftly as employee engagement can grow your business, a disengaged workforce could poison it. If you want your business to thrive, focus on employee happiness, and show appreciation for their hard work.

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