You are currently viewing 80% Of The Workforce Is Disengaged – What’s This Costing Your Organisation?

Various surveys by Gallup show that 80-85% of the workforce is not engaged.  So what does that mean, what is it costing your organisation, and …. the big one … what can you do about it?

What does disengagement mean?

It means that the majority of the workforce is either viewing their workplace negatively, or only doing the bare minimum to make it through the day.

What’s this costing your organisation?

The impact of disengagement is more than the immediate impact of lack of performance. It has a ripple effect beyond what you have probably imagined:

  • it impacts the people who work with and interact with the individual who is disengaged, and their negative energy spreads
  • they feel depleted, and how can they give to others, to your clients, from that state?
  • it puts people in a state of survival and takes them out of inspiration and creativity, so your organisation is not getting the level of performance you employed that person for
  • it takes their leader’s time to keep motivating them
  • if this goes on for too long then it might become a HR issue and lead to performance management
  • beyond the workplace, they take this attitude home and it impacts their families
  • do you know that our pets can absorb our moods/energy and pick up on our stress and that impacts their health
  • if people are operating from a negative mindset, they are easily distracted looking for something to make them feel better. This means they’re not focussed on what they’re doing and this can then become a safety risk
  • They can easily get caught in their negative thoughts, and this can have an impact on their mental health
  • When they dwell in a negative mindset, this can then lead to health and wellbeing issues
  • If they have children, then what are they role modelling to them? (and the cycle continues)
  • Every person they interact with outside of work is being impacted by their negativity, so imagine the impact of 80% of the workforce walking around in the community feeling like this?

To sum up what it is costing your organisation:

  1. lack of performance & presenteeism (mistakes and lost opportunities)
  2. safety (and insurance) costs escalate
  3. increasing physical and mental wellbeing costs
  4. staff turnover and the cost of recruitment, training, onboarding.


There can be a number of reasons people are not engaged, here are a few of them:

1. Lacking Purpose:

People are inspired when they are working towards a goal that’s bigger than themselves? Most people want to see what they’re contributing to and that what they’re doing is making a difference. When I was working with the State Control Centre at SA Health, I took over 50 people through their values, and the one thing they all had in common as one of their top three values was either helping people or serving the community. This is what had driven them and kept them motivated throughout the exhausting years we were dealing with the ever changing and challenging world of COVID-19.

2. No Values Alignment

I know when most people speak of values, they are referring to an alignment with organisational values, but what I’m referring to is gaining clarity of an individual’s values. Remember when you were in school, you did well at the subjects you were interested in. Now that we’re all grown up, ‘what we’re interested in’ comes in the form of our personal values and gives us an insight into what we’re interested in as an individual. When it comes to engagement in our career we need to ensure that there is either a values alignment with our job, or that our job enables our values (seeing the link between our job supporting our family for example). When our job gets in the way of us living our values (ie. doesn’t let us use our creativity for example, or has us working late into the evening and keeps us away from our family – depending on whether creativity and family are in your top values), then we will subconsciously self-sabotage our career. This shows up as mistakes being made in our job, people being frustrated, disowning their results and ultimately puts people into a position of being performance managed.

3. They Don’t Feel Valued

The other statistic is that 70% of people leave an organisation because of their manager. Having interviewed over 10,000 people during my recruitment career and asking them “Why are you looking to leave your current organisation?”, the most common answer was related to not being valued by their manager. Just think, there are so many leadership courses that take you through so many aspects of learning how to be a good leader, when all that your team is after is for you as their leader to take an interest in them, and let them know when you’ve noticed them doing something well. I can remember working for one leader who never once asked me a question about me or my life or my family and it made me feel like I didn’t matter. On the other hand, I’ve worked with a handful of leaders for many years who took a genuine interest in me and my life and I ended up working for them successfully for almost 20 years. A simple place to start, ask the people you work with “What did you get up to on the weekend?” (ground breaking I know, but you’d be surprised the difference it can make).

What’s going to make the difference?

Nirvana would be to undertake a multifaceted process to clarify your organisational purpose and bring everyone on the journey, and help each team see how they contribute to it. But not everyone has the time, resources and budget for such an undertaking.

So I want to give you an easy place to start, that will turn that negative ripple effect into a positive one.

Equipping Your Leaders with Career Coaching Skills To Engage The People

Now if you’re a leader you’re probably thinking “Not another thing to add to my list of things to do?” but hear me out. Yes this might require some new skills at first, but it will ultimately make your job easier and save you time, and help you deliver better results. It will also enable you to spend more time doing the things you love and less time focussed on performance management, safety issues and recruitment activities. All of this leads to increased fulfilment for you and your team.

You could start by simply learning how to ask the right questions to help identify what your teams’ values are, or if you wanted to take it to the next level, learn the values assessment and debrief process. (or if that all sounds like too much work, you can engage me to come in and do that).

Building Individual Values Assessment Into Your Recruitment/Selection Process

You may already have some psychological testing as part of your recruitment process, and values assessments can slot in right alongside of these. When you are down to the final 1 or 2 candidates, you would have your candidates undertake a values assessment (approx 20 minutes). I then have a 20-30 minute debrief with the candidate to help elicit their values and explain what this means for their career. We then see if there is a strong alignment and also what they need to be mindful of once they’re in the job, to ensure they keep the alignment in place. You are then provided with a report that shows you which candidate has the strongest values alignment, which ultimately will then lead to higher levels of performance, engagement and wellbeing. For whoever misses out on the role, they walk away with a clear understanding of what they need to look for in future roles, and also how to pitch themselves for it. Everyone wins! You could even build values alignment into your performance reviews to ensure ongoing engagement!

There’s a lot to absorb here, but I hope you walk away with something new to take on and get curious about. Engagement isn’t a one size fits all solution, so simply increasing wages (although nice) won’t solve the problem in the long run. Sooner or later the thing that is causing disengagement will resurface and unless you want to continuously be having discussions around pay increases, something needs to change.

If you’d like to explore this topic further and try a different approach, please contact me here.