• Sarah Robinson

The ROI of an Engaged Employee Culture


According to Gallup research, lost productivity due to employee disengagement costs more than $450 billion in the U.S. annually.

That figure is staggering to me. With everyone wringing their hands over lost productivity in US businesses and organizations, this crystalizes the magnitude of the problem like nothing else I’ve seen.

We can slice and dice this figure to dissect the causes (or you can read the indepth report from Gallup here). I’d rather focus the conversation on what we can change.  And why we would want to put the effort into changing it in the first place.

The $450 billion figure clearly isn’t enough of a motivator, or we’d see sweeping changes in organizational culture everywhere we look. I think part of the challenge is that, while the figure is incredibly high, its very size makes the problem feel too big to get our arms around. So before I talk about solutions (which I will do in a subsequent post), I’d like to take a deep dive into what your organization specifically stands to gain by re-thinking your culture of employee engagement.

ROI #1 – Increased Revenue. This one is obvious. More engaged employees are more productive. Increased productivity yields increased revenue.

ROI #2 – Improved Marketing Reach. “You don’t have one website, you have a thousand.” I wish I could find the source of that quote, but google turns up nothing. Even so, it perfectly expresses the marketing power of engaged employees. Every single one of your employees is, in effect, a website. Their social media footprints, personal blogs, coffee shop conversations, etc., will eventually mention how they feel about working for you. Take a moment now and think about what Sandra in Accounts Receivable might be saying about that crisis last week.

ROI #3 Reduced Staff Turnover. Replacing staff is expensive. Replacing the knowledge a former staff member has is nearly impossible. Mitigating this stress by keeping employees engaged and happy is a far cost-effective option. An engaged, happy employee isn’t likely to seek greener pastures.

According to Harvard research, the number one factor that impacts the feeling of happiness is the presence of meaningful connection and engagement. That same research says that the number one factor that determines the level of an employee’s happiness is the engagement level and transparency of his or her immediate supervisor. That department head that everyone thinks is a jerk? He’s costing you more than a few grumbles.

ROI #4 Better Customer Engagement and Service. One of my clients taught me that “you can’t give away what you don’t have”. I’ve written a lot about the value of a highly engaged, Fiercely Loyal brand community of customers and clients, so I’m not going to dive into that here. The point I want to tease out for this conversation is that it is far easier to create this kind of customer-centric experience if your internal team  is experiencing it themselves. What does tha mean for you? The environment your sales team works in day in and day out is shaping the way they engage with your best customers.

ROI #5 It’s Just Nice to Be at Work. That may sound over simplified, but think about it. Today’s volatile market can make work incredibly stressful. With that kind of pressure, being at work can be difficult at best, miserable at worst. Because we spend more than half our lives on the job. wouldn’t it be nice to be happy while we’re there? Everyone does their best work when they are working with other happy people.  And “best work” usually equates to “more productive work” which equates to a better bottom line. So the next time someone proposes a C-Suite vs. Everyone Else Office Olympics, think of it as a deposit in the company bank account.

These are just a few of the top ROI’s on a highly engaged employee culture. I’d love to hear about others.