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22 Nov 2019

How To Recognize Disengaged Employees For Business Success

Post by Kaylee Barnes

When devising and implementing your engagement strategy, following the latest employee engagement trends and finding the right balance between feasibility and satisfaction are both important. However, there’s another thing that’s crucial; the absence of which from your strategy might be costing you hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. It is, recognizing disengaged employees.

What is a Disengaged Employee?

A disengaged employee is a worker who isn’t emotionally invested in their company, don’t see their jobs as ‘careers’, and are overall dissatisfied with their employers.

According to an eye-opening survey, US employers collectively lose anywhere from $450 to 500 billion each year to disengaged employees.

Taking appropriate measures to identify them, and then engage them, can go a long way in ensuring business success. It can also help you make quick changes to your existing employee engagement strategy.

If you don’t engage your employees, they’re likely to:

  • Look for other employers, causing you to lose valuable talent and deal with high turnover rate.
  • Compromise with their performance i.e. lower productivity, make more mistakes, etc.
  • Don’t participate/show their interest in company initiatives.

The above points barely scratch the surface. As mentioned earlier, companies can lose billions of dollars every year due to disengaged employees alone.

Recognizing Disengaged Employees

The first step towards dealing with a disengaged workforce is to look for signs of disengagement.

It’s all about observing, and seeing how employees react to different things (or just how they behave in general), can help you identify the disengaged employees from the engaged ones.

Here are some tips:

Conduct Employee Engagement Surveys

Before observing and making assumptions, it’s best if you leveraged a good ol’ fashioned employee survey.

If you’ve never used them before, they’re a series of questions, asked either in the form of questionnaires or interviews. They go like:

  • How employees ‘feel’ within the workplace
  • How satisfied they are with the management
  • To what extent are they satisfied with the perks and benefits that are being offered to them
  • Whether the work is interfering with their personal lives

The list goes on.

While creating a survey, put yourself in the shoes of an average disengaged employee.

Think about the challenges they face on a daily basis and how often they think about giving up.

On top of that, think about all of the possible factors that could be behind their disengagement.

Asking your employees directly about their challenges and their opinions on how to improve things is a lot easier than observing and making assumptions.

Observe How They React to New Initiatives and Projects

A telltale sign of disengaged employees is a lack of interest in new projects or company-wide initiatives.

Disengaged employees are only concerned with clocking in, doing the bare minimum, and clocking out.

They’re not motivated to go the extra mile, let alone, take charge of new projects.

The next time your company takes on a new project, observe how different teams react to it.

Even if the general feeling towards the new project is positive, there might be a few employees who will be indifferent.

See which of your employees take the initiative when it comes to managing a new project or performing a fresh task, and which ones don’t.

If you feel an employee always shies away from new challenges, talk to them. The reason isn’t always disengagement. It might also be a lack of confidence.

See How Well Your Employees Get Along with Each Other

One of the most noticeable features of a fully engaged workforce is that they value teamwork.

Employee engagement naturally results in harmony among teammates.

Disengaged employees, on the other hand, aren’t known for getting along with others.

They may greet their colleagues with smiles, but when it comes to collaboration, they don’t play so well.

To get a picture, simply ask the supervisors about how well their subordinates work within teams.

You can also gauge this by promoting the idea of cross-functional teams within your organization.

Pair them up with someone unfamiliar, and observe how they behave when dealing with colleagues from other departments.

If they don’t live up to your expectations, talk to them to find out what’s stopping them from working as a team.

See How Often Employees Take Off

Workplace absenteeism, when reasonable, is a common thing.

Every now and then, people get sick, have errands to run, or personal matters to deal with.

You can’t expect your employees to show up every single day to work, throughout the year (in fact, if that’s the case, you should encourage them to take days off and relax). That’s why companies have PTOs.

However, if you see an employee taking days off every other week, it could mean either of the following:

  • They’re dealing with something in their personal lives, such as sickness, a sick family member, or any other challenge.
  • They’re disengaged.

Either way, it falls on you, as an employer, to talk to your employees and show your support.

Ending Note

By following the above tips, you might start noticing signs of disengagement in your workforce.

From there, it’s up to you to take the necessary measures to engage your disengaged employees.

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