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Great Disconnection costing billions – 2 in 3 disengaged from work

woman sat at desk

An alarming 60% of employees reportedly feel disengaged from their workplace – amidst companies struggling to form a post-pandemic work culture which is fit for a hybrid world.

According to findings from a Robert Walters poll, the UK is facing a ‘Disengagement Crisis’ with almost half of white-collar workers claiming that their workplace has become unrecognisable in the past 12 months – with high staff turnover (54%), less people coming into the office (49%), and a subsequent decline in team socials (43%) being the main drivers.

Alongside the above, a gloomy economic outlook (32%) and the appeal of moving abroad (28%) is causing employees to disconnect from the workplace – investing less of their personal selves and opting to simply ‘get their head down’ and ‘the work done.’

Toby Fowlston, CEO of Robert Walters comments:

“I was somewhat surprised to see the findings from our research – especially given the investment made by employers into workplace culture over the past 3-5 years, as well as the more recent focus on luring workers back into the office.

“What is apparent here is the traditional tactics used to build a lively, inclusive, and social workplace culture are simply not cutting it. The hybrid-working world and subsequent decline in office attendance is having a detrimental impact on employee engagement and companies must act fast to keep employees engaged and attract the best professionals.”

High Price to Pay

Employee-benefits platform Perkbox estimates that disengaged employees cost the UK economy over £340 billion every year in lost training and recruitment costs, sick days, productivity, creativity and innovation.

The research also reveals that a disengaged employee costs an estimated fifth of their annual salary. For example, one unengaged worker on an average salary of £35,000 will cost a business £7,000.

Counter-offers Rife

With the tightest labour market seen in over a decade, employers are nervous about losing employees and offering disengaged employees pay hikes in order to retain them.

In fact, it has been a record summer of mid-year salary increases for white-collar professionals – with almost a third reporting that they received either a 5-10% pay increase or a spot bonus up to £1,000 – according to a poll from Robert Walters.

Toby adds: “Despite many employers giving midyear pay reviews to increase engagement and retention, this really is a short-term remedy.

“Much greater focus needs to be given to the wider topic of employee engagement – which should no longer be considered as a ‘buzz word’ or an intangible, immeasurable HR concept that is a ‘nice to have.’

“Employee engagement is a key driver of motivation, commitment and productivity in the workplace – in a business sense employers need to appreciate that it really does impact the bottom line.”

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