Chattanooga Engineers Club

SHRM - The Workplace Connection Crisis

  • 13 Feb 2024
  • 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
  • The Chattanoogan Hotel, 1201 Broad Street

The Workplace Connection Crisis: An Urgent Call for HR and Organizational Leaders

Remember the Jerry Maguire film, where Tom Cruise's character experiences a crisis of conscience? He pens a mission statement that reflects his sentiments about his organization's loss of connection at all levels. His heartfelt statement strikes a chord within the organization, and while initially praised, he soon finds himself jobless. This article is not to get you fired; it aims to prompt discussion on the issue of organizational disconnection.

Many modern workplaces suffer from a lack of human connection that is not tied to financial or market factors. My experience as a consultant and coach, supported by studies, shows a worrying disconnection among employees and their organizations. This disconnection extends to teams, leaders, and overall organizational visions.

Gallup's report reveals a stunning 85% of global employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work. This disconnection crisis requires urgent attention as it critically undermines organizational health.

We need a fundamental shift in human resources and leadership. This is not just an HR problem, but a pivotal moment demanding a shift towards deeper connections within workplaces.

Over half of the employees in a Ragan study feel disconnected from their colleagues. This extends beyond a lack of camaraderie; employees feel alienated from their teams, leaders, and company visions. Leaders often contribute to this problem, with many ill-equipped to foster deeper team connections. Similarly, HR practices, focused on risk management and performance metrics, can inadvertently perpetuate disconnection.

Organizations face a paradox where heavy investment in talent acquisition doesn't match efforts in talent retention. This creates a 'revolving door' problem, where companies are constantly hiring to replace departing talent. This cycle is costly to continuity, knowledge retention, employee morale, productivity, and performance. A more balanced approach is needed.

The traditional role of HR needs to shift from a focus on risk management to connection building. Balancing risk management with fostering connections can lead to enhanced employee engagement, satisfaction, productivity, and business performance.

Workplace disconnection impacts productivity, turnover, and absenteeism. Encouraging deeper workplace connections can mitigate these issues, leading to improved performance, lower turnover intentions, and increased productivity.


Robert Barber is an experienced leadership expert, trainer, consultant, bestselling author, executive coach, senior HR professional, and serial entrepreneur. With over 26 years of experience in executive HR, entrepreneurship, engineering, sales, and marketing, Robert helps executives and HR teams engineer high performance in leadership development. He consults in organizational strategy and talent management. Robert is also a best-selling author and proven developer of training course offerings and masterminds.

Currently, Robert is the founder and lead coach of Paratus Consulting, where he focuses on training for high performance leaders and HR strategy. Prior to this, he was an operating principle for a Multimillion dollar luxury residential and commercial investment firm and was the Executive leader of HR at Fortune 150 company. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and an MBA.

Please register through Southeast Tennessee SHRM.

There is various cost for the lunch meeting, ranging from $15 for a student to $41 for guest.

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