What are the signs of Disengaged Employees

employee engagement

7 signs of disengaged employees

It’s easy to imagine people falling into two camps when it comes to engagement: the enthusiastic, invested, and engaged and the disgruntled, alienated, and disengaged. Most people fall somewhere in the middle. According to Gallup, around 52% of employees are simply not engaged. These people turn up every day and make the minimum contribution while on the look-out for another job. But they’re not actively disengaged.

Another thing to be aware of is that engagement isn’t uniform across organizations. Research shows that place in the hierarchy, occupation and length of service can all impact on engagement. Senior people tend to have a higher chance of being engaged, while engagement can slacken off after someone has worked for an organization for more than a couple of years. Job roles that are more challenging tend to have higher levels of engagement.

Some of the signs of disengagement are obvious - it will probably be apparent that an actively disengaged person is unhappy. Some aren’t so clear, especially when it comes to remote employee engagement. But as increasing engagement can be so valuable for your organization, it’s essential to recognize the warning signs that you’ve got a problem and act on them. Here are seven disengagement signs to look out for.

1. Declining performance

This can happen slowly, so it’s not always easy to spot. A disengaged employee may start missing deadlines, their output may fall, or their work quality may drop.

Having proper oversight and frequent check-ins will enable managers to ask the right questions and prevent problems. It may be that the person is struggling because they don’t feel they have the right skills or tools to do the work - or they may feel it’s not challenging enough and simply be bored.

2. Unhealthy working patterns

We know that engaged employees are less likely to take unplanned time off. But absenteeism isn’t the only sign of an engagement problem. Presenteeism - working when unwell, and leaveism - working when you should be on holiday - can also be a warning that people aren’t engaging as they should. And these issues are common. Eighty-nine percent of people who responded to the CIPD’s 2020 health and wellbeing at work survey reported seeing presenteeism, and 73% have seen leaveism. Be on guard for out-of-control workloads and policies that aren't flexible enough to allow a good work-life balance.

3. Withdrawing socially

If someone who usually joins in with a water cooler or virtual chat becomes withdrawn, this may be a sign of disengagement from work and the organization. On the other hand, it may be because of a personal problem, or even bullying, so managers shouldn’t jump to conclusions but rather ask thoughtful questions. Another thing to watch for is when someone stops participating in calls and meetings. It could be a sign that they’re becoming alienated from these processes or suffering a confidence crisis.

4. Undermining the achievements of colleagues

It’s only the most actively disengaged employees who are likely to do this. They’re so unhappy at work that they’re not content simply not to make an effort - they disparage the efforts of others and often, the company itself. This can be hugely damaging to morale, so organizations need to tackle it directly.

5. Not working well with others

Poor teamwork and rudeness to colleagues are likely to be signs of disengagement. These can lead to damaging conflict in the workplace and need to be challenged by managers.

6. Doing the minimum

While engaged employees are likely to put in discretionary effort, those who are disengaged will be reluctant to go the extra mile no matter how much it might help their colleagues. Efficient and productive workers are often in control of their workloads and, consequently, their work-life balance. But it can also signal poor engagement - if an individual is simply not engaged, they’ll do their allotted hours and no more. If they’re actively disengaged, they’re likely to show up late and leave early regularly.

7. Lack of interest in training or learning

The disengaged employee may reject new challenges and turn down opportunities to learn new skills or progress within the company because they don’t see a future. If organizations can do nothing to rekindle their interest, it may be time to move on.

How to improve employee engagement

Employee engagement initiatives cover the big and small picture. Some policies will feed into the engagement picture at a more strategic level, including having employee being heard and appreciated. Organizations may also wish to build a stand-alone engagement strategy such as wellness gifting that Simply Me Box has worked with your benefit company to improve health populations with trackable KPI.

On a more tactical level, improving worker engagement is a day-to-day activity, through external team building such as our Pickle Ball events or virtual experiences. Managers need to demonstrate the company values in what they do, share best practices, keep two-way communication flowing, and be aware of what they can do to improve engagement for the individuals in their teams.

Contact our employee engagement specialist today.