Large numbers of American employees are not engaged in their work, and the fault often lies with management that does not foster an empathetic and caring environment, according to one leading business consultant and HR professional.
Currently, 51 percent of workers are "not engaged," and worse, another 16 percent are "actively disengaged" in their work, and are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and less likely to be productive, according to Gallup's recently published “State of the American Workplace” survey.
These actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. between $483 billion to $605 billion each year in lost productivity, Gallup estimates,
Gallup compiled the results using data collected from more than 195,600 U.S. employees via the Gallup Panel and Gallup Daily tracking in 2015 and 2016, as well more than 31 million respondents through Gallup's Q12 Client Database.
Jon Shanahan, chief executive officer of Businesssolver, an Iowa-based business management consultancy and benefits management company, is not surprised by Gallup's poll results.
"Gallup has been reporting high levels of disengaged employees for years," Shanahan told HR Daily Wire. "Companies are feeling the lack of engagement with $600 billion lost in U.S. productivity a year and $7 trillion lost worldwide.
"To re-engage, retain and attract talent, business leaders need to understand that their employees want to be treated as more than a number or bottom line margin. Employees want to know that their leadership cares and invests in them, their career and individual growth. This can be done by enabling a more empathetic culture and initiatives that affect the workplace at its core."
Businesses that are in the top quarter of companies on measures of worker engagement experience more than 40 percent less absenteeism compared to the lowest 25 percent, Gallup found.
They are 17 percent more productive, and 21 percent more profitable, and are able to retain workers, according to the survey.
"Companies of all sizes will need to work smarter and harder to attract and retain the best and brightest talent," Shanahan said. "In this highly competitive labor market, retaining good employees is equally as important as finding new ones.
"And it will take more than basic healthcare benefits, competitive salaries and a few happy hours. Attraction and retention efforts need to start with your internal company culture: a culture grounded in empathy."
Shanahan cited his own company's 2017 Workplace Empathy Monitor, which found that 85 percent of employees agree empathy is often undervalued by U.S. companies. One third do not believe their company is empathetic at all, the survey found.
Further, 72 percent of employees said they leave their current company if they started to be less empathetic.
"Fully engaged employees have a greater sense of pride, empowerment and commitment to their work and to their companies goals," Shanahan said. "In fact, the same study shows that six in 10 employees would actually take slightly less pay and 77 percent would even work longer hours for a more empathetic employer.
"All it takes is grounding your company culture in each other’s humanity with regular empathetic practices, and illuminating what truly drives your workers and why."