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5 Effective Ways To Avoid a Disengaged Team Costing You Thousands

As an Accountant, I am speaking with business owners all the time. Yes, we talk tax and finance but often my clients speak to me about their people. The good and the bad but a common theme is always their frustration that they can’t find the right people or be able to keep them engaged. People are a common theme for all scalable businesses, all businesses that want to scale and grow. And getting people working in the right direction and being engaged is critical if you want to have success.

I recently had a chat with Brett White, Author, and owner of Be Leaders and expert in team engagement to get a better understanding of what team engagement is and how to avoid it costing business owners. Here are some of the takeaways.

What is Team Engagement?

A good question and a few ways to define it. The Harvard Business Review says employee engagement is when employees want to come to work, can do their jobs, and understand how their work contributes to the success of the organization. A less formal way to say this might be to say that Team Engagement is, "when people love what they do, they enjoy who they do it with, and they do it well." And interestingly, the statistics that have just come out in the latest Gallup research is that employee engagement in Australia is currently at an all-time low of 20%. The goal is to have all your staff, all your employees working and operating at a high-level engagement, because when they are, they're enthusiastic about their work and their workplace. This drives performance and innovation and helps move the organisation or the team forward, whereas if they are disengaged or non-engaged, then they're in many ways working against the success and significance of the organisation.

Measuring the cost of low engagement

The impact of an employee’s low engagement can be a hard thing to quantify or measure If you're talking widgets and what you can send out the door, I guess you can measure that, but how do you measure if someone hasn't thought of a million dollar or a billion-dollar idea? I think how you would see it is just in the way that an organisation or company or team just maintains itself. So, they're not growing, they're not developing, they're not trying new things. And then ultimately, that's going to impact the future success of the organisation.

Gallup estimate that low engagement costs the global economy $8.1 trillion. I mean, we're talking money here that makes no sense to me, but it's not just the profit that is impacted by low engagement. It is those other things: productivity, innovation, and organizational change.

When employees are not fully engaged in their work, they're not committed or enthusiastic, or psychologically connected and engaged in what the organisation is doing. And in some cases, they're not just unhappy. They're almost resentful that their needs aren't being met, and so therefore they're working against the company goals and dreams and purpose, and all those kinds of things that are important.

How do you keep your team engaged?

I think one of the challenges, particularly during the Covid pandemic, has been that kind of remote team, where people are working from home. And yes, that may have some advantages, but one of the disadvantages is probably around the connection, and I think the connection is probably one of the key foundations to building higher engagement, is having a team, a staff, an organisation that is connected.

And connection is one of the keys that I believe are critical, and it's connected to the idea of building a culture of trust, which is harder to do online because you're not actually doing life with people, and so I think that has been one of the challenges for us in Australia, and probably has been the driver that has given us the lowest rate of engagement.

So, I would say there are 5 foundations to building team engagement ... connection would be one of them, for sure. And connection is all about building that culture of trust and building trust within teams, within organisations. Contribution, which is all around purpose, is where people are working to their strengths, doing what they do best every day, which is part of what I said about love what you do, enjoying who you do it with, and doing it well when people feel like they're contributing to the bigger picture.

Appreciation is probably another pillar or foundation, which is sort of connected to the culture of value, where people feel appreciated and acknowledge and valued and respected in the workplace. They feel heard, and they feel like they can share their thoughts or their ideas, or if they have problems and stuff.

And I think probably alignment is another one, which is all around the clarity piece. So, employees are buying into the values direction and the vision of a team or an organization, or a company. It's interesting, Simon Sinek talks about the "why," because a lot of people know what you do, a few people know how you do it, but very few people know why you do it, and that's the alignment piece, is where an organization, where employees are buying into the bigger picture of why it is that we do what we do, which is that alignment piece.

And I think opportunity is probably the fifth one, which is around that culture of growth, where employees feel like they're a development and growth and progress for them in the organization, and they can feel they can share their ideas, yes, but they also feel that they're getting constructive feedback about their growth, their development, their future, and opportunities to move forward.

So those five areas are the real keys in developing higher levels of employee engagement across an organization, and they require work and leaders must own that. Leaders, whether they're leading a team or leading a whole organisation, need to own the cultural piece of their companies, of their organizations that are going to help build a culture where staff employees and teams are fully engaged, loving what they do, and enjoying who they do it with. I think many business owners underestimate the impact dis-engaged employees can have on their bottom line and don’t have the processes in place to measure the effect it may have on costs, missed opportunities, and ultimately the success of their business.

At the Fox Group, we are more than just Accountants. We are experienced Business Advisers that can help your identity things like the cost of a disengaged team. If you are looking for more than just an Accountant, call us on (02) 4353 3889


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