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Employee Engagement Program

Spotting Poor Performance Lickety-Split

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Employee engagement is the best thing money can buy. But in order to truly benefit from your employees, you must actively contribute to their success. They must be motivated and feel connected to the company by shared values and goals; most of all, you must establish a collegial environment where they feel recognized and rewarded. If you support your employees’ happiness, your company’s productivity, proactivity, and innovation can soar. When they don’t feel that way, well… yikes.

The costs of employee disengagement can mount swiftly for everyone involved. This can result in practical and emotional impacts on the team, managerial time constraints and stress, expenses associated with increased turnover, and impacts on the employees themselves. Not only can disengagement create a toxic work environment, it can also make a dent in KPIs and the bottom line.

That dent can become a trench if you’re not careful. Disengagement is infectious, and there are proven and significant links between employee engagement and workplace productivity.

Counting the Costs

The highly-regarded polling company Gallup has been measuring engagement in the United States workforce since 2000. Its May 2020 report featured some surprisingly positive findings: employee engagement has actually risen in recent years, and reached a historic high of 34% despite the many challenges they faced throughout the year. However, “actively disengaged” workers—the truly unfulfilled, spreading unhappiness throughout the company—were at 13%, and 49% were considered “not engaged”. This latter group are not deeply miserable, nor are they committed and connected. They’re simply dialing it in, biding their time until a better opportunity comes along. So over half of the US workforce was found to be unengaged in their work, accompanied by a whole host of performance issues that arise as a result.

What are the costs of this disconnection? Employee disengagement means that they:

  • Produce considerably worse outcomes in terms of absenteeism, productivity, and profitability.
  • Treat customers worse, and are less likely to attract new customers.
  • Are less loyal, making them more likely to create turnover.
  • Are less healthy, and more likely to ‘burn out’.
  • Are likely to spread some of these issues to others, undermining what has been built.

According to Gallup, such disengagement costs the US between $483 billion and $605 billion in lost productivity each year. The performance and behavioral issues of each employee, translated into dollars, cost 34% of their annual salary, i.e. $3,400 of every $10,000 they make.


Needless to say, the more quickly you can identify drops in productivity due to disengagement, the better. You don’t want to let an annual salary point go by without spotting and tackling this subtle, creeping problem. Think of employee disengagement as an infection in the veins of the company, requiring swift treatment to prevent it from spreading in and between teams.

One discontent employee can lower morale in their immediate team, whether this is through their mood or the harm they cause to good relationships. Disengaged employees make others feel they have to pick up the slack and work harder, creating an epidemic of resentment. This inevitably causes delays, with breakdowns in the speed and smoothness of task transference; finally, it creates costs related to absenteeism, whether health-related or otherwise.

You might notice someone in your workplace who is chronically late to arrive and early to leave, spending long periods chatting and distracting or gazing into space. They might be spending all of their time organizing work but doing very little of it, complaining rather than being solution-oriented, not replying to communications, being disrespectful, or failing to meet targets. These and other signs should be noticed and nipped in the bud before granting them the chance to do greater harm, and there are a number of ways to do so:

  1. Don’t take engagement for granted—it needs to be managed proactively. If decisionmakers are disinterested in preventing this, put the financial costs under their noses. Costs are part of the company culture if that culture is ignored.
  2. Don’t delegate engagement care and management to one already overstretched person or department. Train everyone to see the signs of disengagement and lowered productivity, not just those in leadership roles. It could be that someone is going through a difficult but finite time; a colleague or supervisor noticing and quietly intervening might be all it takes to stop the downward spiral.
  3. Ensure that monitoring, evaluation, and feedback systems have built in thermometers to assess the temperature of your employees’ engagement.
  4. Use the data you gather to measure continuous improvement for individuals and teams, and investigate any upward or downward spikes as soon as they’re spotted. Good spikes mean good practice to be shared, while bad spikes mean further feedback should be sought out as quickly as possible. By including culture at the start and heart of all it does, RewardCo can provide you with just the right metrics to spot these issues promptly, keeping your company’s fulfillment and productivity ever on the climb.

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