HR Management & Compliance, Recruiting

4 Consequences of Neglecting Employee Engagement

Human resources departments have a lot of balls to keep in the air. There’s recruitment, retention, resignations—essentially, your job is ensuring that a company’s workforce is present and capable. That’s no small feat. But in the hustle and bustle of firing and hiring, it’s easy to overlook the importance of employee engagement.

Employee engagement is exactly what it sounds like: the health of the relationship between your workforce and management. Some questions to consider when evaluating your employee engagement are:

  • How free do your employees feel to bring forth problems or concerns to their managers?
  • How much do your employees enjoy their jobs and how often do they express a desire to go the extra mile?
  • How well do your employees get along with one another, and how capable are they of mediating their own conflicts?
  • Do employees feel free to bring in new ideas or thoughts that will have an actual effect on the company’s decisions?
  • Do your employees understand how to make changes in their work/life balance if they wish to do so?
  • Do your employees feel safe, valued, and appreciated when they show up to work?
  • Do your employees understand how their work contributes to the overall health and success of the business?

It can be hard to give employee engagement the time and thought it deserves since it often doesn’t feel like a fire. After all, it’s not like human resources representatives have tons of free time to sit back and think about the current state of affairs when there are employees to recruit, benefits to explain, and conflicts to help resolve. It can be a can that continuously gets kicked to the curb.

But unengaged employees can lead to huge issues down the road for your business. Here are four consequences of neglecting employee engagement to remind you that it’s worth the time and effort to prioritize.

Decreased Productivity

When employees aren’t engaged with their work and in their workplace, it’s a high likelihood that their productivity will suffer. That means less bang for your buck in terms of your workforce, and fewer people you’re able to serve through your products and services. According to a Gallup poll, “engaged” employees were up to 18% more productive than their “disengaged” peers (source) and “disengaged” employees cost US companies hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Focusing on employee engagement isn’t just a feel-good exercise; it’s literally a money-making opportunity that will affect your bottom line. Disengaged employees are less motivated to do their best work, and aren’t as eager to take on extra projects or try new things. They don’t want to risk very much for a company that they don’t enjoy being a part of. All of these factors will play into decreased productivity and hurt your company in the long run. Furthermore, low productivity is contagious—if one employee starts producing less, others are likely to follow, and soon your goals are much lower than they should be.

A Bad Reputation

Disengaged employees are much more likely to badmouth your company in public. After all, if they feel no loyalty to a company and don’t feel like part of the team, they’ll probably share that with family and friends. That kind of gossip (“X company doesn’t treat their employees well”) can spread like wildfire, and will soon impact the buying habits of your customers. A lack of enthusiasm from your employees will be easily apparent to your clients—if they aren’t excited about sales and marketing, why would your potential clients be excited about buying?

High Employee Turnover

High employee turnover is a phrase that haunts the nightmares of HR professionals everywhere. After COVID unearthed major problems in the workforce and shook up employment trends, the workforce still hasn’t quite recovered. Many companies face huge issues with employee turnover, and workers of our current generation are working at jobs for less and less amount of time. Gone are the days when employees could be expected to stick around for fifteen or twenty years. Now, recruitment has become a constant task requiring upkeep and attention, and with that comes onboarding of new employees and lost productivity in the meantime. Everyone wants to avoid high employee turnover. One simple way to do so? Increasing employee engagement. If employees feel like a business is invested in their long-term success and cares about them as a human being, they’ll be much more timid about jumping ship for smoother waters. Keeping your employees happy is the best recruitment strategy you can possibly embrace, because it cuts off the long, difficult, expensive recruitment pipeline at its knees. Employee engagement is truly the most important practice a human resources employee can lean into when it comes to ensuring the long-term health of a company’s workforce.

A Toxic Work Environment

Lastly, employee engagement will help you avoid a toxic work environment. While this is related to earlier points—toxic work environments will affect your reputation and lead to high employee turnover—it’s also a problem all unto itself. You didn’t get into human resources to deal with employees who are constantly arguing, gossiping, and dissatisfied. You probably got into this line of work because you truly wanted to help people feel productive and valuable at work. Think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Safety and security are fundamental human concerns. If people don’t feel safe and secure at work, it’s going to affect everything else they do in the office. Poor employee engagement will seep into every aspect of your company before you know it, and coming to work will be a headache for everyone. If you think you’re busy now, know that if you work in human resources at a company with a toxic work environment, your schedule will be filled to the brim with conflict mediations and tense meetings. Putting in a little work now will free your schedule up in the future.

How can you ensure your employees are more engaged this year than ever before?

Claire Swinarski is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

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