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Why Unhappy Employees Are More Expensive

"A shockingly small number of US employeesonly 30%feel engaged with their day jobs. That means the vast majority are either passively disengaged or completely detached from their work."
Why Unhappy Employees Are More Expensive

by Melissa Ramos

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Do you like your job?

According to a Gallup study, a shockingly small number of US employeesonly 30%feel engaged with their day jobs. That means the vast majority are either passively disengaged or completely detached from their work.

Sure, they may still come into work every day and hit their KPIs, but that doesn’t mean that they feel as engaged or passionate about their work as their teammates. Although, since they’re getting their work done and making deadlines, does it really matter?

Causes of Disengagement

The quick answer is yes. But that doesn’t make for a very interesting article.

Let’s take a closer look.

First, it’s important that we understand why employees feel disengaged and unhappy with their work. Once we understand the causes behind it, finding a way to energize and engage your team will be much more clear.

Employees can feel disengaged with their work for a variety of reasons, but these are often the most significant:

They feel uninspired by their work. Employees who feel disengaged at work lack a personal connection to the impact that they’re having within their organization. They feel detached from the end result that they’re producing.

They don't feel recognized for their contributions. Disengagement and unhappiness can often trickle down from a higher level. If an employee feels that they’re not being adequately recognized for the work that they’re putting in, this can quickly lead to disillusionment with the entire organization.

They don’t see opportunities for growth. This can mean different things to different people. An absence of opportunities for personal growth through new challenges or professional growth through a well-defined career path can leave employees feeling that their current role is a short-term solution and that there is no future for them with their company.

The goal is unclear. On some level you need to believe in what you’re doing. Your team needs clearly defined objectives and needs to be excited about the problems that they’re solving. Only 41% of US employees can identify what their company stands for in relation to its competitors.

    The Impact on Your Organization

    If your team doesn’t believe in the work that they’re doing, your company will suffer. Full stop.

    Engaged employees are the lifeblood of a healthy organization

    Employees that believe in the goal of their work, feel connected to their output, and are on a clear path towards growth will push your entire company forward. They’ll be responsible for your most innovative and strategic moves. Their passion for their work will help them identify key opportunities and always be striving to push the envelope on what is possible for your organization.

    Disengaged employees are sleepwalkers

    They’re going through the motions; clocking in and clocking out, but never really having a significant impact on your team as a whole. While they may have once been all-stars, the drop in their productivity will be massive if they’ve lost their spark.

    The effects don’t stop there either. Disengaged employees can spread their unhappiness to those around them, bringing down the productivity of top performers in the process. 

    Unhappy employees hurt your bottom line 

    So we’ve established that employee happiness is important for maintaining a productive and healthy internal culture, but what about revenue? According to another study published by Gallup, employee disengagement is costing companies in the US over $450 billion annually.

    Here are some of the ways that unhappy employees are impacting your business:

    Inefficiency. They’re space wasters, taking up space and missing out on potential growth and opportunities.

    Toxicity. They are sharing their dissatisfaction with your other employees whether it's vocal or not. It sets the tone and it's contagious.

    Attrition. Some sources estimate attrition can cost you 50% to 75% of an employee’s annual salary, or potentially even more. Not to mention the time and resources associated with onboarding and training.

    Finding a Way Forward

    Bringing your team back to life can take on many forms. Maybe it involves creating new initiatives that focus on their health and happiness, or engaging your workforce through transparency and openness.

    Work closely with your team to identify the root cause of their disengagement. Find the gaps that you can fill to help them get back on track.

    Ultimately, employee engagement can have a far greater impact on performance than things like benefits or perks. Helping a team care about their work might be the smartest business move you’ve ever made.

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