Disengaged employees cost firms trillions of dollars

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David Henshall, president and CEO of Citrix.
David Henshall, president and CEO of Citrix.

Employees that are not engaged with their work are costing organisations trillions of dollars each year.

This was the word from David Henshall, president and CEO of Citrix, in a keynote address at the Citrix Synergy 2019 event taking place in Atlanta, Georgia.

Henshall made reference to a report by analytics and performance management consultancy firm Gallup, which recently estimated the global costs of unproductivity at a staggering $7 trillion.

According to Gallup, only 15% of employees are engaged in their work.

For Henshall, the employee disengagement challenge comes at a time organisations are struggling to attract and retain talent.

Right tools

He believes companies need the right tools to ensure their employees are engaged and productive.

"It's becoming harder and harder for organisations to attract talent. They are finding it difficult to get the right people with the right skills and locations to get their jobs done. It's only going to get worse as we go through major generational shifts across the planet," said Henshall.

"Take the US, for example. Right now the baby-boomers are retiring en masse and are taking their decades and decades of experience in specialised knowledge with them. In fact, the problem is getting worse because it's now a global issue."

He noted McKinsey estimates that next year there is going to be a shortage of 95 million high-skilled workers. So, finding the right people and retaining them has never been more important than it is today, he said.

Research from the McKinsey Global Institute suggests that by 2020, the world could have 40 million too few college-educated workers and that developing economies may face a shortfall of 45 million workers with secondary school education and vocational training. In advanced economies, it says up to 95 million workers could lack the skills needed for employment.

"A lot of CEOs that I talk to agree that one of the things that is keeping them awake is finding the right people for the job. The key to all of this is finding the right people and making sure the talent that you have is as productive and absolutely as engaged in driving business outcomes as they can be."

Unfortunately, Henshell said, this is not the case in many areas. He explained that usually employees become disengaged because of issues of like frustrating working environments, fragmented processes and systems, etc.

In most cases, employees do not have access to the tools and information needed to do their best work, he said.

"Imagine if only 15% of your teams are completely aligned with driving your business? In most organisations, employees are the largest single expense. That means, by definition, employees are your most valuable asset but are simply not being treated as such. Imagine if any other asset was operating at 15% capacity?"

In regards to employee experience, Henshell said for most employees, the tools that are in the office are too complex and frustrating.

"They have different interfaces, different authentications, workflows as well as different performance characteristics. It takes forever to remember all these; thereby causing human RAM disruption as people go back and forth between all these different tools."

Productivity gap

He believes it is this productivity gap that is hurting businesses across the world. He stressed it is imperative that organisations make all their employees productive by ensuring they are engaged.

According to Henshall, most organisations have layers and layers of technology on top of each other, creating more and more complexity all the time. "This is because as an industry, we are really good at adopting new technologies. However, we find it difficult to simplify what is already there and this is not going to change anytime soon.

"In fact, most of the applications that organisations have today will still be there for several more years to come. When you think about all that plus the fact that most businesses are on their cloud journey, introducing all these third-party service providers, that makes the equation even more challenging.

"At Citrix, we clearly believe there is a better way. People need to be productive on their terms, and that means changing work styles to make people more productive. Employee experience has to be user-centric because their experience is one of the most critical factors determining the overall success of a business."

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