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Here’s How U.S. Companies Are Losing Up to $550 Billion Per Year

By Maurie Backman – Mar 25, 2019 at 7:18AM

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Hint: It's an avoidable loss, too.

As an employer, it's on you to make sure that your workers are reasonably content on the job. Otherwise you risk losing them to outside opportunities.

Or do you?

Although just 21% of North American employees are very engaged on the job, most aren't looking to leave their current positions, according to engagement platform Achievers. And while that might seem like a positive thing in theory, it's actually quite problematic in nature. The reason? Unengaged workers are highly likely to grow complacent yet continue going through the motions of coming to work in pursuit of a paycheck. As such, they're apt to do the bare minimum needed to get by, which means that you, as an employer, lose out on the productivity front.

Man holding sheet of paper sitting across from another man with hand on chin, as if listening intently

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

In fact, disengaged employees cost the U.S. an estimated $450 billion to $550 billion per year in lost output. If you'd rather not be part of that statistic, you must take steps to better engage your workforce. Here's how to start.

1. Reexamine your company culture

A company culture that doesn't focus on worker satisfaction will only hinder engagement. As such, you can start by assessing your culture and making sure it aligns with the values you want to present to your employees. A supportive environment will naturally lend to better engagement on your workers' part, so be sure to pinpoint the ways your company is falling down in that area and aim to do better.

2. Solicit continuous feedback

Guessing at what your workers want will only get you so far in addressing their needs and getting them more excited about their roles. A better bet, therefore, is to come out and ask your employees what they're looking to get out of their jobs, and where there's room for you, as the employer, to improve. But don't just make that a one-time question; solicit feedback regularly to ensure that you're staying on top of employee issues and concerns.

3. Encourage managers to be more hands-on

It's hard for workers to feel engaged when their managers come off as perpetually busy or downright unapproachable. As such, you'll need to implement a shift in the way your company leaders conduct themselves. That could mean mandating weekly check-ins between managers and their teams, or offering manager training to improve communications.

4. Sink resources into career development

If you invest in your workers' success, they're likely to feel more motivated. As such, it pays to help your employees move their careers forward, all the while helping them boost the skills needed to excel in their current roles. This could mean hosting on-site training in key areas, reimbursing workers who take courses or attend seminars on their own time, or sponsoring employee attendance at relevant conferences.

5. Acknowledge strong performance and solid effort

When employees work hard, they want recognition for it. Being generous with praise can help inspire workers to continue pushing for results. And there are plenty of forums for that praise. It can be dished out at the manager level, or at the company-wide level as appropriate.

The more engaged your workers are, the more output you'll get from them. It pays to focus on engagement whether your staff seems outwardly content or not -- the success of your business depends on it.

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