Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

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

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

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

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


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.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 10/05/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.