Every organisation has them, but how many of us  budget for those ‘Elephant in the Office’ costs of disengagement, absenteeism and employee turnover and report them on their P&L?  Further, how many use these costs as a lever to secure investment to first, reduce them, and secondly, reap the benefits that come from improved engagement and productivity?

The costs of employee disengagement, productivity loss, absenteeism, and employee turnover, sit on a spectrum that all organisations experience as employees make their employment journeys.     When we first enter an organisation, or accept a new role within our existing organisation, we anticipate that our enthusiasm for the new challenge is high enough to keep up fully engaged, our initial  challenge being to gain the knowledge, skills and behaviours that we need to be successful in that role.  It is when we have reached that ‘point of peak performance’ that a more complex challenge presents itself, as the way forward becomes less clear and we ask ourselves what should we do next?

Do we rest on our laurels and accept the adoration from our colleagues for our work, or do we take the risk of accepting more responsibilities, broadening our roles or seeking other opportunities to continue our move through the organisation.  It is when we choose to rest on our laurels, that this initial point of disengagement creeps in.

It can start with complacency, as we find that we can perform our roles with little difficulty, using our discretionary effort elsewhere to accomplish ‘other’ work.  Or it could be that we get ‘locked-in’ as a ‘safe pair of hands’ that a manager relies on to do a job well.  There are many routes to this initial point, but the slippery slope of disengagement and lost productivity that follows can quite rapidly lead, first to absenteeism, and then ultimately an employee deciding that it is time to move on.

This is not to apportion blame to any particular role or individual, but to highlight the reality of how these situations arise … and, unfortunately, they do too often!  The annual cost to UK organisations of these issues are estimated to be in the £ billions.  So how much of that cost is you organisation incurring each year – and are they more or less than your fair share?

While some of these issues are more difficult to track directly through hard measures, we can, and should, be measuring those issues for which we do have data available, extrapolating from this, using other data available to us, to best estimate how large the softer measures might be.

In response to this issue, and in conjunction with the experts on this subject at our business partner, IBM Kenexa, we have developed two cost calculators for supporting organisations in calculating the costs of absenteeism and employee turnover.  Our objective is to make these calculators readily available to our client and prospect organisations, to help them make the initial case for investing to reduce these issues.  Then, using the data captured through these investments, to extrapolate the costs for disengagement and productivity loss.

If you are interested in gaining access to these tools please let us know?  We will be pleased to step you through and give you free access to their use.

There are times when the ‘Elephant in the Office’ should not be ignored, in these times of uncertainty, when every little extra productivity can make the marginal difference between success and failure, we believe that the time is right to at least start tracking their footsteps.

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