Improve Culture – Reduce Disengagement

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Here’s something they’ll probably never teach you in business school: The single biggest decision you make in your job — bigger than all of the rest — is who you name manager. When you name the wrong person manager, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits — nothing, stated Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO, in Gallup’s 2015 research State of the American Workplace. He further noted that these managers from hell are creating active disengagement, costing the U.S. an estimated $450 billion to $550 billion annually. The research notes that 30 percent of the workforce are engaged and inspired at work, suggesting they have a great boss. Roughly 20 percent of the employees are actively disengaged suggesting these employees have bosses from hell and make them miserable, spreading discontent. The other 50 percent of American workers are not engaged – they’re just present but not inspired by their work or their managers.

The cost of disengagement

Actually, upon reflection, the 50 percent that are present are engaged in something, but is it what you want them to be engage in? Not likely, according to this research. It doesn’t take a genius to determine that 70 percent of most employees are disengaged. The cost of disengagement is high:

  • 60 to 80 percent of workdays lost are due to stress
  • Poor leadership increases not only the amount of sick leaves taken at a workplace but also the risk of sickness amongst employees later on in life according to the Karolinska Institute, 2014
  • Higher absenteeism
  • Increased workplace accidents
  • Reduced productivity
  • Lowered profitability

This list can only grow exponentially depending upon the complexity of your organization and the size of your workforce.

Reduce disengagement – increase productivity and profitability

What is your plan to overcome this tsunami of disengagement which increases costs, stress and absenteeism so you can improve productivity, performance and profitability? The first step is always recognizing you have a problem – low absenteeism, low moral poor productivity etc. This problem with not dissipate over time. Consider some of the following. Choose managers wisely. A great employee does not make necessarily make a good manager. The fastest way to ruin a good employee is to promote him or her to a position that they are not trained for, want or capable of performing. Gallup found that managers who focus on their employees’ strengths can practically eliminate active disengagement and double the average of U.S. workers who are engaged nationwide. Run the numbers to see how this would impact your bottom line. Start today by choosing managers at all levels who are engaged. It seems like that does not need to be stated but if your managers are not engaged, how can your employees be engaged? Then set the rules for engagement top down, bottom up and inside out. Create workforce engagement think tanks to create awareness of the problem and to develop engagement solutions at all levels of the organization. Have them operated by someone chosen from within the group, not the existing manager. Once set, follow up and review regularly to see to it that they are being adhered to and updated immediately when change is needed. Eliminate the culture of fear. Stress is inevitable in an environment that is focused on a punitive fear-creating management style and is likely to lead to disengagement leaving employees feeling under-valued, insecure and unsupported. All employees want a few basics, such as to be:

  • Respected
  • Treated fairly
  • Listened to and have their opinion valued
  • Properly trained
  • Recognized for their contributions

The culture of fear creates disengagement; the culture of education, training and encouragement creates engagement. What needs to change or improve in your culture that reflects the acknowledgement of basic employee needs? Connect employee to employee, not just leaders to employees. Create a culture of caring on all levels. The key here is recognition, recognition and recognition – public recognition. Building camaraderie and a sense of belonging begins with a sense of a social recognition and celebration of a job well done. Research has also shown that employees who socialize together also enjoy a more harmonious engaged workplace. Create a caring atmosphere that:

  • Creates a sense of responsibility for colleagues as friends
  • Provides a support system that reaches out to others who are struggling
  • Develop a buddy system that inspires one another at work

The objective should be to treat one another with respect, gratitude, trust, and integrity. Disengagement will decrease, while engagement, productivity and profitability will increase.

Download “Improve Culture – Reduce Disengagement” in PDF Format.

© Pat Heydlauff, all rights reserved 2015

Pat Heydlauff, a “flow of focus” expert, speaker and consultant designs workplace environments that fuel the flow of focus, maximizes productivity and yields future sustainability. She is author of the forthcoming book, Focus • Connect • Regenerate 7 Ways to Lead and Fuel Sustainability and published books, Feng Shui, So Easy a Child Can Do It, The Way We Go, Your Roadmap to a Better Future and Selling Your Home with a Competitive Edge. Contact her at 561-408-2708 or


About the Author:

Pat Heydlauff speaks from experience. She creates environments that engage and focus your workforce. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Engage, Unleash the Power of Focus and published books, Feng Shui, So Easy a Child Can Do It and Selling Your Home with a Competitive Edge, and can be reached at 561-408-2708 or