How Disengaged Employees Affect Your Organization

You likely know that it’s good for your employees to be engaged. After all, you want them invested in your objectives and willing to go the extra mile on behalf of the organization. That’s what those employee engagement surveys are about: gauging the sentiment of your people with the overarching goal of implementing actionable insights.

But have you considered how employees who are not engaged impact the company? As it turns out, they can do a lot of damage. Here’s how disengaged employees affect your organization.

The Issue

The latest Gallup survey indicates that 64 percent of employees are disengaged on some level. Of them, 13 percent are actively disengaged – they’re infectiously unhappy at work. That means that just 36 percent of employees are engaged, although that’s a slight improvement over 2019, when 35 percent of employees expressed engagement.

However, organizations must gain a four-to-one ratio of engaged to disengaged workers to offset the unfavorable impact of disengaged employees, Gallup says.

The Effect of Disengaged Employees

Here’s how disengaged employees can hurt your organization:

Diminished Productivity

Employees who are disengaged are more apt to do the minimum amount of work required and are less likely to meet role expectations or feel motivated. Further, such employees commit 60 percent more mistakes than their engaged counterparts. It will likely come as no surprise to know that 73 percent of disengaged employees are on the hunt for new employment. All told, such disengagement costs organizations between $450-$550 billion annually in worker turnover and lost revenue.

By contrast, workplace teams that are highly engaged boast 17 percent more productivity and 41 percent less absenteeism than teams comprised of disengaged employees.

Poor Customer Interactions

Organizations that have customer experience scores that are average or less say that just 49 percent of their employees are engaged. Compare that with 79 percent of workers at employers that have above-average customer experience scores. On the other hand, highly engaged workplace teams experience a 20 percent improvement in sales and a 10 percent uptick in customer ratings.

Lower Morale

Employee engagement and organizational culture are inextricably related, and three-quarters of employees in a national employee engagement survey said workplace culture is directly tied to at-work engagement.

A culture that is nurturing and supportive tends to produce engaged employees, while a less-healthy culture can cause extensive workforce disengagement. However, disengaged workers are absent more, which can result in other employees becoming overworked and burned out. In turn, this can diminish morale.

The flip side is that engaged employees come to work and contribute more significantly to their roles and workplace culture.

Missed Organizational Goals

While 71 percent of top execs and business leaders feel that employee engagement is critical to organizational success, just 24 percent called their own workforce highly engaged. Moreover, 28 percent of respondents believe their workplace has excessive disengaged people.

Simply put, disengaged employees feel no connection or loyalty to their employer, so are less likely to feel a responsibility to work toward corporate goals.

How to Improve Organizational Engagement

Top measures include:


  • Improve the company’s culture through employee recognition and appreciation programs.
  • Invest in strength-based development. Training employees based on what they’re good at can result in a 9-15 percent hike in employee engagement, a 3-7 percent increase in customer engagement, a 10-19 percent sales increase, and 14-29 percent more profits.
  • Improve communications. Some 80 percent of workforces experience stress due to ineffective communication.


The positive news regarding disengaged employees and their effect on your organization is that there are remedial measures you can take. If you need help, we recommend the leading global consultant Mercer.

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