Wipfli logo

Bank on Wipfli - Blog and Podcast


Cut the cost of disengagement with a strategic people plan

Dec 11, 2022
By: Michelle Joseph

Over the past two years, financial services leaders have had to ask themselves two questions:

  1. Where do we want to go from here?
  2. Who do we need to get us there?

Strategic planning is not a new concept. Executive leadership has made revisiting the strategic plan and rethinking strategic initiatives a priority.

What is new is thinking about the people strategy at the executive level.

Many executives leave this up to human resources. But executive leaders must open themselves up to the idea of creating a strategic people plan. Specifically, one that aligns with their strategic plan and meets the evolving needs of their organization.

Earlier this year, we talked about mapping a people plan to the strategic plan. We also discussed the importance of executive leadership getting involved in employee experience initiatives on our Bank on Wipfli podcast.

More recently, we talked about quiet quitting and the cost that disengagement has to a business's bottom line.

Many executives still feel that these are soft topics in business. But their profit and loss statements are feeling the impact of disengagement — whether they realize it or not.

Consider the cost of employee disengagement

According to Gallup, 50% of employees are disengaged. Disengaged employees means lower productivity and lower profitability.

When translated into dollars, Forbes calculates that companies lose about a third of a disengaged employee’s annual salary. That means a third of an employee’s annual salary is wasted, multiplied by 50% of your workforce. On the low end, the cost of disengagement could mean millions of dollars in losses for your business.

Globally, Gallup calculates disengagement costs the world $7.8 trillion in lost productivity, which is equal to 11% of global GDP. The numbers are clear — it's time that executives determine what their people need in order to achieve their strategic plan.

Incorporate a strategic people plan

So as an executive, where do you start? Let’s return to the important questions:

  1. Where do we want to go from here?
  2. Who do we need to get us there?

Choosing where to start is easy. You’ve already established that by way of creating a strategic plan.

The question of who we need to achieve that plan can be just as easy. It starts with connecting the people you have to the initiatives outlined in your strategic plan.

Then it comes down to clarity of expectations. You’ll want a solid understanding of the work that needs to get done and how that work will impact the people executing it.

But what if people are quiet quitting or disengaged?

Encourage continuous employee listening

This is where employee listening comes into play. It doesn’t require lengthy assessments or hours of conversations. Rather, focus on creating an environment of psychological safety.

Create a place where your employees feel that their words will not be used against them.

This requires that managers and leaders be comfortable asking their employees three questions:

  1. What should I start doing?
  2. What should I stop doing?
  3. What should I keep doing?

Those three questions, when asked in a consistent manner, can create an environment where an employee feels safe. They will be comfortable enough to ask for what they need to be their most productive and engaged self.

It also provides a development roadmap for managers and leaders. The answers they receive from their employees are much better than spending countless hours reading leadership development books.

Why? Because the employees have directly communicated what they need to be the best version of themselves.

In theory, this is simple. The complexity lies in whether managers and leaders are willing to be self-aware in accepting and using those answers. If they can, they’ll improve the overall employee experience.

People strategy consulting

We invite you to think about your people as an executive. Who do you have in leadership that is clearly stating the work that needs to get done? Who is responsible for empowering your people to deliver on that work? Do your leaders have the tools and resources needed to empower and engage your people?

Wipfli is here to answer these questions. Our talent management consultants can help you navigate all the elements that go into your people strategy. Contact us when you’re ready to start aligning your people with your strategic plan.

Sign up to receive additional financial services information in your inbox, or continue reading on: 


Michelle Joseph, MBA
View Profile
Bank on Wipfli blog
Subscribe to Bank on Wipfli - Blog and Podcast