Employee Engagement in the Workplace

May 15, 2014

Most workers can probably think of a few people in their office who are not overly engaged, or may even be completely disengaged. It is not as rare as one might think.

bored employee

Last year, the results of a Gallup survey titled “State of the American Workplace” found that seven of ten workers in the United States either are not engaged or are actively disengaged at work, which costs American businesses a staggering $450 to $550 billion annually.

Such findings should be a cause for concern among business owners, and lead them to re-evaluate business operations and employee communications.

While the definition of employee engagement varies, the term generally represents the commitment level to a worker’s job and employer. Employees who do not care about their jobs or see the success of their employers as relevant to them can place their companies at a competitive disadvantage.

Poorly engaged or totally disengaged employees can weaken a business in many ways, such as:

  • Quality control
  • Absenteeism
  • Customer relations
  • Innovation
  • Teamwork
  • Overall morale

And there are a few reasons why workers stay at their jobs, such as:

  • The state of the economy and a lack of other job opportunities make it difficult to leave.
  • A need for benefits, especially health insurance, is often reason enough to continue at a job.
  • Inaction on the employee’s part provides employees with the assumption that their disengagement is acceptable and/or tolerated.

Clearly, the lack of employee engagement is a problem that businesses should address with a sense of urgency. But knowing where to start can be a challenge. Here are a few tips:

  • Begin by evaluating the company culture. Does it create an environment in which all employees, regardless of their experience level, tenure or position, feel that they are truly an integral part of the company’s success?
  • Do ownership and/or management effectively communicate on an ongoing basis in a way that makes employees feel connected and gives them the opportunity to be heard?
  • Are the goals of individuals, managers and executives aligned? Do these groups have the tools to work successfully together?
  • Do employees understand the business’s objectives and goals? When employees do not understand the business’s direction or culture, or how they fit into the company and its success, they are likely to be disengaged and may feel like outsiders in their own company.

It is significant that the Gallup report cited above reported that only 41 percent of workers surveyed “felt they know what their company stands for and what makes its brand different from its competitors’ brands.” Disengaged employees may also feel disconnected from their team and believe that they are not making any progress.

Determining and elevating the level of employee engagement should become an essential part of every company’s operations. Managers at all levels should be made aware of their responsibilities in this regard, and given the tools to help employees become more engaged. Furthermore, disengaged workers who do not respond positively to coaching and intervention should be considered as candidates for possible dismissal.

Employee engagement affects profitability and growth, and business owners who take the necessary steps to properly engage their workforce will benefit from higher productivity and an enriched level of employee commitment to their company’s reputation and success.

This article was co-written by Eric Bonugli and Kay Oder

Eric Bonugli is a district manager and Kay Oder is a Certified Business Performance Advisor for Insperity located in the company’s Austin office. Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 27 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance. For more information, call 800-465-3800 or visit http://www.insperity.com

Topics: Business Operations, Featured, Content Type

Kay Oder


Kay Oder has owned six companies, has been a resource to thousands to businesses and brought solutions to help business owners minimize risk, improve business performance and navigate today’s highly regulated and complex “business of being an employer”.

Today, Kay uses the insights gained throughout her career as a speaker, business owner and business advisor. Audiences enjoy her candid, informed perspective on HR related topics as well as her razor-sharp southern wit.

Kay is also a Certified Business Performance Advisor with Insperity, the $2.6 billion business performance solutions provider she has called home since 1993. Kay has consistently been among the company’s top producers during her 20 plus years with the organization, earning Insperity’s highest honors, including the Top Volume, Circle of Excellence and the Chairman’s Club awards.

Prior to Insperity, Kay was the President and Co-founder of Texas Valve Specialists, a supplier in the oil and gas industry. She has also owned companies in the construction, demolition, machining and promotional apparel arenas. She spent four years as a client of Insperity and upon selling her last venture, joined the Insperity team.

From an early age Kay demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit, beginning at age six when she sold cantaloupes from her parents’ front yard, which she offered three for fifty-cents, with a free puppy.

Kay and her husband, Dale, relocated to Austin from the Houston area in 1996 when a theft occurred in their family: their granddaughter was born and stole their hearts, so they had to follow.

Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 30 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance. Insperity® Business Performance Advisors offer the most comprehensive suite of products and services available in the marketplace. Insperity delivers administrative relief, better benefits, reduced liabilities and a systematic way to improve productivity through its premier Workforce Optimization® solution. Additional company offerings include Human Capital Management, Payroll Services, Time and Attendance, Performance Management, Organizational Planning, Recruiting Services, Employment Screening, Financial Services, Expense Management, Retirement Services and Insurance Services. Insperity business performance solutions support more than 100,000 businesses with over 2 million employees. With 2016 revenues of $2.9 billion, Insperity operates in 61 offices throughout the United States. For more information, call 800-465-3800 or visit www.insperity.com.

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