Employee Benefits Summit 2010: Disengaged workers cost UK businesses £44 billion

Disengaged workers could cost UK businesses £44 billion in lost productivity according to Nita Clarke, deputy chair of the UK Government’s Review on Employee Engagement.

Addressing delegates in the opening session of Employee Benefits’ Summit, held in Monte Carlo, Clarke, who is the co-author of the MacLeod review on employee engagement, urged employers to “unlock employees’ potential” at work by ensuring they are engaged.”

Clarke, who is also director of the Involvement and Participation Association (IPA), said: “The world of work has changed. The new generations of workers are not simply prepared to live on command and control. They have different expectations and are not prepared to hang their brains on the door when they come to work.”

She argued that employers with engaged workforces were more profitable, highlighting that between 2000 and 2005 the stock market performance of The Times’ ‘100 best companies’ was ten times higher than that of FTSE 100 firms collectively.

Engagement, said Clarke, was “zipping” up employers’ agendas with some rating it as more important than containing labour costs. Employers with high engagement levels were more likely to reduce absence, increase employee wellbeing and ensure staff were advocates of the business.

In order to successfully engage staff, businesses need to ensure industrial and employee relations were aligned with organisational strategies.

“The gap between values and behaviours is called mistrust and you cannot have value and engagement in an organisation when there is mistrust.”

In addition, employers need to look at the role of line managers, who should be encouraged to treat staff as individuals, ensure their workload is managed effectively and they are well equipped to do their job, advised Clarke.

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