I read a post yesterday titled "The End of An Era: Cost Reduction Initiatives Are No Longer Enough" which got me thinking about what we actually mean when we talk about cost cutting.
Is it saving a few dollars here and there such as less branded notepads, less toner in the cupboard, economy preferred to business class, smaller cars, less perks or reducing heads? It could be all of these or none of these.
Why is the real elephant in the room ignored?
This is a crude example so bear with me. If you have 4000 staff and your payroll is $200m, and your annual engagement survey shows that 25% of your workforce are actively disengaged and another 50% are "just" disengaged then you're paying $150m(ish) to people that don't want to work for you. Surely this is far more than you can ever save by cost cutting?
Then there's costs for the poor-quality work they do for you (which someone else will need to fix), the damage they do to your reputation or morale of other more engaged employees.
These disengaged employees aren't an elephant in the room, it's a herd of Mammoths!
There's masses of evidence about how companies with a highly engaged workforce reap the rewards. Not only financially but in terms of innovation, absenteeism, customer service and retention. It's gone midnight here so instead of lots of research by me, have a quick look at this (although a little old and UK centric) "Engaging for Success: enhancing performance through employee engagement" or visit Gartner or OfficeVibe for more interesting reading.
In terms of a solution to employee disengagement, there're a million things you can do. Some simple, do-able steps to start with are:
- If you're a senior leader be honest with yourself and your team and acknowledge that there's a problem. Don't just ignore those massive fluffy prehistoric animals lingering at the back of the office!
- Discover the root causes but be ready to hear some uncomfortable truths. Then act on what you hear and communicate what you're doing.
- Empower employees to do their work. Instead of erecting barriers help smash through. Cultivate a culture of Yes instead of a culture of No.
It would be interesting to hear your real-life cases in the comments, but in the meantime I'm off to bed. Looking forward to Mammoth steak for breakfast! Goodnight.
I originally posted this directly to LinkedIn on July 10, 2019 at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/herd-mammoths-your-office-dominic-batstone/