Recruitment firm warns of 340bn “Great Disconnection” facing UK workforce

Recruitment firm Robert Walters has warned that the UK is facing a “Great Disconnection”, which could cost the economy £340bn this year alone.

The company found that around 2 in 3 UK white-collar workers report feeling disengaged from work.

Toby Fowlston, CEO of Robert Walters said: “I was somewhat surprised to see the findings from our research – especially given the investment made by employers into workplace culture over the past 3-5 years, as well as the more recent focus on luring workers back into the office.

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“What is apparent here is the traditional tactics used to build a lively, inclusive, and social workplace culture are simply not cutting it.

Firm warns "Great Disconnection" could cost UK employers £340bnFirm warns "Great Disconnection" could cost UK employers £340bn
Firm warns "Great Disconnection" could cost UK employers £340bn

“The hybrid-working world and subsequent decline in office attendance is having a detrimental impact on employee engagement and companies must act fast to keep employees engaged and attract the best professionals,” he added.

The poll, conducted by Robert Walter,s also found that almost half UK professionals thought their workplace had become unrecognisable in the past 12 months.

High staff turnovers, less people coming into the office, and a subsequent decline in team socials were all cited as reasons for this.

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32% of staff said a gloomy economic outlook was one reason they felt disconnected, while 28% cited the appeal of moving abroad as a reason for their disengagement.

Employee-benefits platform Perkbox estimates that disengaged employees cost the UK economy over £340 billion every year in sick days, productivity, creativity and innovation, and lost training and recruitment costs.

The research also reveals that a disengaged employee costs an estimated fifth of their annual salary. For example, one unengaged worker on an average salary of £35,000 will cost a business £7,000.

Mr Fowlston added: “Much greater focus needs to be given to the wider topic of employee engagement - which should no longer be considered as a ‘buzz word’ or an intangible, immeasurable HR concept that is a ‘nice to have.’

“Employee engagement is a key driver of motivation, commitment and productivity in the workplace – in a business sense employers need to appreciate that it really does impact the bottom line.”