Why Some People are Great Leaders

You are the leader of the organisation. You are making decisions all the time. The pace of business is ever increasing. To meet all your KPIs you need everyone working together.

We wanted to compare what the research says on leadership and keeping employees engaged, with two leaders running very different businesses who backed their intuition and judgement.

Leading any organisation in today’s changing world of work is no easy task. Steering the ship through troubled waters can be tough, even when most things appear to be working in your favour. However, when one adds employee disengagement into the mix, then there is another level of complexity to contend with as a leader.

Gallup found that 17.2% of any workforce is disengaged. The same research found the cost to their organisation was $3,400 for every $10,000 of salary (34%). Do the numbers – they are scary. Say median salaries are $60,000, therefore each disengaged employee costs around $20,400. 100 strong workforce is costing the business over 2 million dollars because of disengagement.

With this evidence as a backdrop, we asked two of the leaders we are currently working with – what did you do to avoid such a situation?

I chose to introduce a wellbeing and performance program. The decision was to improve a range of health parameters of our group and I believe we have a strong social responsibility to look after our employees. The missing link in our business was we were not offering any solution to enhance the health and wellbeing of our staff. We wanted to address this matter and enhance the employees access to health professionals.

I also wanted to start to build a culture around the importance of health and wellbeing in the workplace. Our employees work in tough conditions, so I wanted to add value to what we offered our current and future employees.

The other big driver for me was my observation of the mental health of the team. It has been a stressful few years. We needed a way to independently verify the status of the group and subsequently offer interventions and support mechanisms to manage the identified human risks across the group. I also wanted to bring the professional services to the workplace, as accessing health professionals for our employees is difficult.

Fundamentally we were aiming to improve work capacity, reduce days off and enhance everyone’s capabilities. We are looking at the long-term focus with such an offering to the team. This means we wanted to track any changes over time across a collection of risk factors.”

Stephen Lamond, MD, Thompson and Redwood

Another leader said,

“I introduced an integrated health, wellbeing and performance program to show my team the importance I place on the welfare of the team. It was remarkably easy to introduce such a program and the staff have embraced the approach. I was also looking to add value to working within our organisation. We have had a torrid few years with the workload continuing to increase. I needed to show the team we care about them.

The ease of introducing such an approach meant the long-term benefits I foresaw – like deceasing stress levels, increasing self-care and better engagement from the team, could be activated earlier. The multi layered benefits that I saw would directly impact the individual and the business.

It also meant we have a system in place to help manage the most valuable asset in the business – the people. We are only a small team – so we need everyone fully engaged.”

Steve Halbert, MD, Austral Risk Services

Instinctively, both these leaders saw the introduction of an integrated health, wellbeing and performance program as having a raft of benefits to the employee, the business and community in which the business operates. They both identified mental health as a motivator for the program as well as having an offering in the workplace to foster better employee engagement and add value to working within their organisation.

If by introducing an integrated program it is possible to shift the dial slightly on employee engagement, the investment in the program means significant savings to the organisation and a plethora of benefits.

So here are some considerations to help you reverse the trend of disengagement:

  • Measure what matters for most of the employees to perform at their best.
  • Leaders who act quickly on data and take the action increase the level of engagement by 1.9x.
  • Leaders who make the commitment to have any program of engagement in their business foster increased purpose and development within the employees. Employees become more engaged.
  • Leaders who encourage and empower managers to drive engagement obtain significantly better results than those organisations where engagement is left to an organic process within the business.
  • The data suggests that employees who receive daily feedback from their direct manager are 3 times more likely to stay engaged when compared to those employees who receive feedback once a year, or less.
  • Leaders need to be aware that 71% of the potential employees have used referrals from the crop of employees currently within the organisation. This is another inherent benefit of keeping employees engaged with a structured health, wellbeing and performance program.
  • A staggering figure from the research suggests that 70% of the variance associated with team members who are disengaged, is directly attributable to the manager of that team. It is cause and effect.


Gallup – State of the Global Workplace, 2022 Report.

Marilyn Postelnyak – Calculating the cost of employee disengagement, updated May 8, 2023 as seen in contactmonkey.com

Interviews with Stephen Lamond and Steve Halbert, May 2023.

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