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The Great Disconnection is costing billions: 2 in 3 people feel ‘disengaged’ from work

An alarming 60% of employees reportedly feel disengaged from their workplace, while companies are struggling to form a post-pandemic work culture which is fit for a hybrid world.

According to findings from a Robert Walters poll, the UK is facing a ‘Disengagement Crisis’ with almost half of white-collar workers claiming that their workplace has become unrecognisable in the past 12 months – with high staff turnover (54%), less people coming into the office (49%), and a subsequent decline in team socials (43%) being the main drivers.

Alongside the above, a gloomy economic outlook (32%) and the appeal of moving abroad (28%) is causing employees to disconnect from the workplace – investing less of their personal selves and opting to simply ‘get their head down’ and ‘the work done.’

Toby Fowlston, CEO of Robert Walters, commented: “I was somewhat surprised to see the findings from our research – especially given the investment made by employers into workplace culture over the past 3-5 years, as well as the more recent focus on luring workers back into the office.

“What is apparent here is the traditional tactics used to build a lively, inclusive, and social workplace culture are simply not cutting it. The hybrid-working world and subsequent decline in office attendance is having a detrimental impact on employee engagement and companies must act fast to keep employees engaged and attract the best professionals.”

Toby Fowlston, CEO of recruitment specialists Robert Walters.

High price to pay

Employee-benefits platform Perkbox estimates that disengaged employees cost the UK economy over £340 billion every year in lost training and recruitment costs, sick days, productivity, creativity and innovation.

The research also reveals that a disengaged employee costs an estimated fifth of their annual salary. For example, one unengaged worker on an average salary of £35,000 will cost a business £7,000.

With the tightest labour market seen in over a decade, employers are nervous about losing employees and offering disengaged employees pay hikes in order to retain them.

In fact, it has been a record summer of mid-year salary increases for white-collar professionals – with almost a third reporting that they received either a 5-10% pay increase or a spot bonus up to £1,000 – according to a poll from Robert Walters.

Fowlston said: “Despite many employers giving midyear pay reviews to increase engagement and retention, this really is a short-term remedy. Much greater focus needs to be given to the wider topic of employee engagement – which should no longer be considered as a ‘buzz word’ or an intangible, immeasurable HR concept that is a ‘nice to have.’

“Employee engagement is a key driver of motivation, commitment and productivity in the workplace – in a business sense employers need to appreciate that it really does impact the bottom line.”


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