How OKRs can be the answer to solving the disengaged workforce

by Carly Clyne | Sep 06, 2022

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A report from Robert Walters, found that an alarming 60% of employees feel disengaged from their workplace. With many organisations operating a remote or hybrid working practice, the traditional tactics used to build a lively, inclusive, and social workplace culture are not enough. There are fewer people in the office to engage with (none if you’re a remote worker) and a sharp decline in team socials, causing a further disconnect from the workplace.

What does employee engagement mean?

Employee engagement is a measure of an employee’s commitment to their job, and how loyal and passionate they are about the work they do. It’s an emotional connection between an employee and the business they work for. Employee engagement is a key driver of motivation, commitment, and productivity in the workplace.

When an employee is disengaged, they are not emotionally committed to or proud of the organisation they work for. They lack motivation and will rarely go above and beyond to contribute to common business objectives. This has a negative effect on team morale as they’re less likely to collaborate with other members of the team. It can also affect innovation, as disengaged employees are not inspired to think outside the box and push themselves to achieve more.

Engaged employees, on the other hand, are committed; they care about the work they do, and when their company succeeds – that’s what gives a company the competitive advantage.

The price of disengaged employees

According to employee benefits platform Perkbox, disengaged employees cost the UK economy £340 billion every year in lost training and recruitment costs, sick days, productivity, creativity, and innovation. 

The same research by Perkbox also found that a disengaged employee costs their organisation an estimated fifth of their annual salary; for instance, one unengaged worker on an average salary of £35,000 would cost a business £7,000. Given the investment made by organisations into workplace culture over recent years, it’s surprising to hear such stark figures. 

As a result of such disengagement, we’ve witnessed many employers giving pay reviews to increase engagement and retention, but this is only a short-term fix. A greater focus on the wider topic of employee engagement is needed. The cost of disengaged employees has a massive impact on an organisation’s bottom line, but what can you do to overcome this issue?

OKRs can drive employee engagement

OKRs are a great tool for many reasons, one of those key reasons being that they help to create employee engagement in a highly positive way. OKRs align company-level goals with team and personal goals, breaking them down into manageable tasks. OKRs ensure transparent decision-making and can show employees how the work they do every day contributes to a larger goal. 

When employees are not aware of how their work contributes to the organisation’s goals, they’re undertaking tasks without knowing how they fit into the overarching plan. This can cause  a disconnect, and they can become detached, killing off any motivation. After all, if employees can’t see where they’re going, how are they supposed to care about getting there?

Motivated employees, on the other hand, understand what they’re working towards and how this contributes to the wider plan. Employees are more likely to engage when they can see true meaning and value in their work, that what they are working on is contributing to something big. 

A transparent way of working

With some teams working in silos, this brings about a lack of transparency between teams. One team doesn’t know or have sight of what is happening with the other. Having OKRs in place breaks down those silos so that all teams in your company are aware of the goals of the different team members and the progression of their goals at any time they want. This creates the opportunity for alignment and collaboration.

OKRs as the foundation for conversations

Regular OKR check-ins between line managers and employees ensure that employees get consistent support and guidance towards remaining engaged in their roles and goals. When OKRs are clearly defined, and it’s obvious what the outcomes are, you’re then able to assess performance towards those outcomes in your check-ins and talk about what can be done to reach the intended outcome. 

Ongoing discussions about OKR progress create the opportunity to offer feedback and gives recognition to individuals and teams for their performance toward important outcomes. Creating a psychologically safe space and an open culture of feedback opens up the lines of communication, meaning employees will feel supported and know that they can ask for help when needed.  

Employees need to be productive and engaged in order to contribute to business success. Using OKRs, we believe companies can make employees feel valued, supported, and properly informed, creating a positive impact on their overall performance. If you want to find out more about how OKRs can improve your employee performance, speak to our team today.