As customers, we have been “served” by people who quit but never left. As employees, we have been managed by bosses who stopped managing, but managed to stay. As managers, we have managed people who physically attend, but mentally pretend. We call them—disengaged workers—a deadly virus that’s spreading throughout American business.
Survey after survey reveals that the number one issue facing business today is finding and retaining talented employees. Nationally, employee turnover averages 12 percent each year, a challenge that is costing millions. Yet retention is not a cure for turnover. Retaining a disengaged employee is actually far worse than letting him go—regardless of how valuable he once was.
Let’s face it. No one takes a job intending to fail. No employer hires with the intent to fire. Both parties want only the best. They both want to succeed. So what happens? Research by The Kabachnick Group has pinpointed the very soul of disengagement:
- Most disengaged workers were once engaged, caring, productive workers.
- Disengaged workers are not necessarily poor performers.
- Disengagement usually begins with either a new boss or a boss who becomes disengaged.
- Disengagement often occurs after changes in the responsibilities of a position.
- Disengagement sets in after a promotion.
- Disengagement begins when learning and development ends.
All disengaged workers are not the same. Yet the cost of different forms of disengagement is relatively equal in size—huge! Research by The Kabachnick Group found that 92% agreed that their companies do not identify or deal with poor performers. Therefore, by the time the disengagement is recognized, it’s usually too late.
Companies that discover the beginnings of disengagement early on and then deal with the disengaged quickly have a much lower percentage of turnover in their “star performer” ranks – the most productive and the most engaged.