How to Engage the Disengaged Employee

HR Voice
HR Voice
10 Min Read
How to Engage the Disengaged Employee

Managers are busy, and it might be difficult to tell whether one of your employees is no longer involved in the team.

You’ve seen it before: an employee who was once energetic and engaged stops taking initiative. Spends way too much time scrolling through their social media. Constantly calls in sick, and isn’t on track to meet the targets you set. This is what some people refer to as the disengaged employee.

Can you, as a manager, re-engage a disengaged employee?

What is Engagement and why is it important?

Engagement at work refers to how invested people are in their roles, how committed they are to the organization, and how much effort and energy they put into their work.

Employee engagement is crucial for increasing productivity and retaining employees. If you have a robust employee engagement strategy in place, your employees will be more aligned with the organization’s values and goals. They develop into enthusiastic contributors, creative problem solvers, and stunning coworkers.

The Disengaged Employee

Disengaged employees are not positioned to put in extra effort for success. The majority of the time, they despise going to work. They’re not inclined to advocate their employer’s products or work for them. Employee performance can be harmed by laziness, apathy, and dissent, which are just symptoms of larger issues.

Only 36% of employees are actively engaged at work!

According to the most recent Gallup survey, 51% of employees are disengaged at work, with 13% being actively disengaged.

The disengagement epidemic spreads slowly at first, until it’s brutally obvious that your once-shining star has stopped caring, checked out, and moved on.

But how does this happen?

Five of the most typical reasons for a terrific employee’s disengagement are discussed here.

What Makes a Great Employee Disengage

You must first understand what contributes to employee disengagement to take practical efforts to combat it.

1. Inadequate recognition

According to Gallup, a major factor leading to employee disengagement is a lack of recognition. It’s understandable, because no one would feel motivated to work somewhere where their efforts are not appreciated.

2. Micromanagement

Micromanagement is a major contributor to employee dissatisfaction. Micromanagement is a management style in which you closely monitor and oversee the conduct of your employees. Constantly intervening and regulating their working style can make them feel like their freedom is taken away. Employees become irritated and frustrated as a result, leading to disengagement at work.

3. Lack of communication

A significant contributor to disengagement is a lack of emotional bond with the organization.  So, what creates an emotional bond between your employees and your company?

Regular and pleasant communication at all levels is the key.

Unfortunately, most businesses suffer from a lack of communication. Employees rarely get the opportunity to communicate with higher levels of management. Their communication is confined to the leaders and managers of their respective teams. As a result, they feel connected to their teammates and bosses, but not to the company.

4. Excessive work stress

Workplace stress is undoubtedly normal, but when it gets excessive, it leads to employee disengagement. High work stress has many negative consequences, including health issues and strained personal and professional relationships. All of these can add up to employee disengagement.

5. Poor interpersonal relationships

No one can function productively in an environment where he feels isolated and has poor interpersonal interactions. Even if they are enthusiastic about their profession, if they do not enjoy being around their coworkers, they are likely to remain disengaged.

How to Spot a Disengaged Employee

Early warning signs of a disengaged employee include:

  • A team member who used to enjoy discussing ideas suddenly stops doing so.
  • A team member who used to reach out to other team members is now isolating himself/herself.
  • A team member who was previously on top of deadlines begins to fall behind.

Other severe signs of a disengaged employee are:

  • They start making mistakes often, which is one of the most dangerous indications of a disengaged employee.
  • They don’t know the answers to queries about their day-to-day work.
  • They openly fight change with a poor attitude.
  • They cease following team etiquette and dynamics.
  • They frequently reschedule and/or cancel meetings with you (their manager) or their peers.

There’s still a lot you can do to retain talent and re-engage a team member if you discover disengagement indicators.

Building Great Employees

Great employees are developed, not born. They’re the result of a coordinated effort on the part of both the individual and the management and a carefully designed work environment that fosters success and engagement.

1. Hear them out

You may be dissatisfied and frustrated with an employee who isn’t doing his/her job, but you must keep your emotions in check. Spend some time together and get to know their circumstances and challenges. It’s very probable that factors you don’t know about are at play in their professional/personal lives.

When you meet with employees, it’s important that you use a supportive tone to encourage them to express their feelings openly. Inquire about their issues and priorities, as well as any suggestions they may have for how their engagement can be improved.  

“When an employee begins to have problems with engagement, it’s critical to step in as soon as possible so that things don’t progress further,” says author and engagement specialist Tim Eisenhauer.

2. Assess engagement frequently

How often do you assess employee engagement?  Once or twice a year is simply not sufficient. Engagement levels often fluctuate, so keeping track of them is essential if you want to make a real difference.

3. Personalize your actions

As soon as you notice any signs of disengagement, take tailored action to fulfill employee needs (whether it’s recognition, rewards, or feedback).

If you notice a drop in engagement, consider highlighting the person at the next team meeting, acknowledging them on your company-wide recognition platform, or having a special one-on-one meeting to go over their accomplishments.

4. Enhance trusted connections

Employee engagement is affected by their trust in supervisors. Therefore, management must cultivate trusted connections with their workforce. Ensure that supervisors continue to support and communicate with their personnel.

You’re one step closer to increasing employee engagement by enhancing how managers connect and collaborate with their teams.

5. Utilize a strength-based approach

Start using your employees’ capabilities with a strength-based management style. Offering learning and development opportunities to help employees expand their professional skills is a terrific method to help them grow.  After all, 87 percent of millennials believe that professional growth is crucial, and 40 percent of employees with poor training and few possibilities for advancement leave their jobs within five years (L&D Report: 2018)

6. Be attentive

Ensure that your employees are heard and that they receive the attention and assistance they require. Encourage them to participate in meetings and share their thoughts. Always be open to their ideas and attempt to see things from their perspective. Take the time to help employees assess their job priorities if they need more role definition and clarity. Giving this kind of undivided attention encourages engagement on a personal level.

7. Recognize a job well done

Employees become even more engaged in what they’re doing when you let them know you notice and appreciate their efforts; it’s just human nature. According to Gallup, employees who do not feel sufficiently recognized are twice as likely to indicate they will quit in the next year. When coworkers are encouraged to recognize and compliment each other’s contributions, your staff’s teamwork will improve as well.

Closing thoughts

Employee disengagement is a risk factor that jeopardizes organizational health and performance, but it can be handled with feedback, insight, and a commitment to making employee engagement a strategic priority for your company.

Assessing the degree to which your employees are aligned with and empowered by your company’s vision, will guide you towards taking measures to improve that experience of impact, which is a critical engagement driver.

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