The Cost of Low Employee Engagement


Disengaged or low-engaged employees are those who have somehow lost interest in their job and their company. Therefore, they lack enthusiasm. Disengaged employees can underperform. Eventually, they check out mentally. Or they leave the company.

Let's be honest: the cost of turnover is high. So, low employee engagement is problematic. You should recognize the signs of low engagement and tackle it head-on if you want people to stay (longer) with your company.

The concept of Employee Engagement

William Kahn is the psychologist who developed and named the theory of employee engagement in the 1990s, right when the economy and world were quickly changing. He looked into how engagement occurs and what prevents it from arising. The theory is rooted in academic management (how to be successful in managing an educational setting). Today, it surfaces in all management levels and gives us insight into what we can do to improve employee engagement. Gallup estimates that managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units.

So what is employee engagement, and what did Khan want to highlight with his concept? In a few words, employee engagement comes down to how employees feel towards their work and work environment. To maintain happy, engaged employees, you need a positive working environment with good working relationships.


How do you create a positive working environment?

No one has more influence on day-to-day interactions, processes, and operations than managers. Therefore, managers should have strong interpersonal skills and be mindful of these five ingredients of a positive work environment:

Positive treatment of others

The golden rule denotes that you should treat others the way you want to be treated yourself. Many of us learned this rule as a kid. It is valuable in any given social situation, at work too.


Respect is essential in human interaction and social relationships. It means accepting people for who they are, even when they're different from you. Everyone is unique - welcome other people's perspectives. Mutual respect builds feelings of trust, safety, and wellbeing. Managers should be respectful of their employees and make sure colleagues treat each other respectfully too. If needed, managers should provide training to assist each employee in being respectful, attentive, and emphatic. Paying attention to someone else is also a form of respect. It shows the others that what they are saying is valued.


Being valued for your input and effort is very important. The belief that leaders of the organization value people is one of the top drivers of employee engagement. Recognize employees for the great work they do.

Equal treatment of employees

Equality is fair treatment for people in every facet of life regardless of gender, race, disability, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or age. True workplace equality means that all employees have access to equal opportunities. There's no place for favoritism at work. Treat employees consistently across the workforce to form meaningful relationships.

Effective Communication

Invest time and energy into delivering clear lines of communication. It will rapidly build trust among employees and help company morale. Employees are more motivated when their leaders keep them up-to-date. Good communication is also what sets the record straight in case of a misunderstanding.


Why should your organization invest in employee engagement?

If you create a people-first culture in your organization, your business will profit tremendously. Some benefits of high employee engagement include:

Higher retention rate

Employees that are disengaged don't fully enjoy their work, making them prone to leave their job. In today's highly competitive marketplace, it's imperative to keep good employees satisfied to keep them productive and on board for years to come.

Greater productivity and quality

If employees are enthusiastic about what they are doing, they are more productive. Highly engaged employees also tend to be innovative and are always thinking about ways they can do better.

Higher revenue

Greater productivity and more outstanding quality result in better sales. Also, when employees are engaged, they serve customers well. Focusing on employee engagement is an excellent strategy to keep customers coming back.

Improved company image

If your employees are not happy and engaged, presenting your company as the employer of choice and a great place to work is nearly impossible. Employee engagement is a crucial part of your employer branding strategy.

We spend many hours a week working, and time is the most important thing we have in our lives. Imagine spending years in a toxic environment? A toxic work environment creates stress, burnout, and severe disruptions in your everyday life. People deserve to have a full life outside of work and a good work-life balance. 

Organizations can make a major contribution to a better work-life balance of employees and thus to greater work-life satisfaction. There's a multitude of tools and technology to support the employee experience. You have no excuses not to create a healthy, great place to work.

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