Smiling senior employee discussing email with african colleague at workplace, happy older worker talking to black coworker joking about online computer work, aged and young managers laugh in office

The real cost of not engaging with your people

By Oriana Knopf

The great thing about the topic of employee disengagement gaining traction again – most recently rebranded as ‘quiet quitting’ – is that it puts the focus back on the support that employees and leaders really want – and need.

In 2013, Gallup estimated that employees who are actively disengaged cost the US alone $450bn to $550bn in lost productivity a year. According to the most recent date data, 19% of employees are actively disengaged (Gallup, 2022). With an average salary of around £40k a year in the UK, a single actively disengaged employee could cost an organisation almost £8k. Scale that up to a company with 250 employees, it could mean as much as £1.9m a year lost solely through employee disengagement.

Engaging people and teams with appropriate support in the workplace should be a consideration to directly increase profitability. Highly engaged teams show 41% less absenteeism and 59% less turnover. On top of that, throughout the pandemic, organisations with high employee engagement were more resilient (Gallup, 2018; Gallup, 2021).

With everything constantly changing in today’s world, there’s a huge opportunity to improve employee engagement, our future world of work, and create a workplace focused around a more human experience.

So, how can we engage our people?

Gartner (2022) compared the experience and performance of teams with and without leaders using ‘human leadership’ traits of authenticity, empathy and adaptability. They found engagement went up 37% among employees working for a ‘human’ leader. And with highly engaged employees improving team performance by up to 27%. Can you afford not to bring human leadership to your organisation?

On top of that, organisations focusing on a ‘human experience’ are ultimately twice as likely to outperform their competitors (McKinsey, 2020).

Human leadership in theory includes aspects of authentic leadership, strength-based leadership, ethical leadership and servant leadership (Brown, 2005; George, 2003; Greenleaf, 1977, Rath, 2008). In short, it revolves around inclusively bringing your authentic self to work and showing self-awareness about your strengths and weaknesses. This creates a culture where others are feeling inspired and empowered to do the same: leaders are role models and shape inclusive teams.

Human leadership not only improves employee engagement, it also builds trust and psychological safety within the workplace. It does this by connecting people on a more human level, communicating clearly so everyone is aligned, valuing everyone’s unique human strengths so people are motivated to perform. Teams become powerful.

Nine out of ten leaders already believe that, in order to be a more successful leader, they’ll have to focus on human leadership, only three in ten of them are being recognised as a human leader (Gartner, 2022). Underpinned by the latest research in positive psychology, strengths and Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence model, Bailey & French help leaders at every level tune into and amplify the best of themselves in order to get the best from the people around them so everyone can flourish and thrive at work.

Find out more.