The Cost of Disengagement

March 24, 2022 • John Salustri

Hiring and retention have never been easy. But the Great Resignation—or whatever name you chose to describe the latest workforce trend—has only increased their level of difficulty, especially for the commercial real estate industry.

Even with the help of your human resources department, hiring can be a time-consuming and often frustrating second job, added to an already full plate of responsibilities. Onboarding a new hire also carries its own rewards and frustrations, with the emphasis on the latter if it turns out that the employee is not engaged.

Frustrations and expenses. As Gallup outlines in “‘The Great Resignation’ Is Really ‘The Great Disconnect’,” the lost productivity of a disengaged worker amounts to 18 percent of their annual salary. Putting dollars to that, if a firm has 10,000 workers earning an average of $50,000 annually, that disengagement will run an organization more than $60 million a year. Once a certain level of disengagement is reached, replacement may be the best option, but as we all know, that too comes with another cost, specifically one half to two times an existing salary.

The odds that your firm is immune to the disease of disengagement are slim, by the way. Gallup research reveals a global engagement rate of a rather paltry 20 percent, and a slightly-less-so 34 percent in the U.S. and Canada.

So, how does a leader foster higher engagement? Pay scales and benefits packages do matter. They are just not the only measure.

(By the way, if Company A wants to lure away an employee from Company B , but that employee currently has a leader who engages them, Company A should expect to add a 20 percent pay raise to win them over.)

“Some very well-paid people are among the most disengaged,” says Gallup, “and disengaged white-collar workers are slightly more likely than others to be looking for a job.” What pay strategies can do is “reinforce engagement or erode it.”

So, if you think that salary alone will solve the disengagement and talent issues in your firm, think again. “The pandemic changed the way people work and how they view work,” Gallup states. “Many are reflecting on what a quality job feels like, and nearly half are willing to quit to find one.

“Reversing the tide in an organization requires managers who care, who engage and who give workers a sense of purpose, inspiration and motivation to perform. Such managers give people reason to stay.”

Finding candidates and keeping them via outdated methodologies will no longer cut it. But pursuing and cultivating them with a new sense of purpose will. And that can lead to the next big trend for commercial real estate: the Great Retention.

To read more about trends in hiring and workforce development, check out BOMA International’s February 2022 Deep Dive, Raising Talent in the Midst of the Great Resignation, at