Employee Engagement Employee Experience

Disengaged employees are bad for business. Here's how you can solve this:

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Have you ever bitten into a cookie expecting choc chips and finding raisins?

Or dipped your hand into a bowl of chips expecting fruit chutney, and ending up with a mouthful of salt and vinegar? That’s the olfactory equivalent of working among, and with, disengaged employees.

In an ideal world, every person who forms part of a corporate team would be ideally placed in their position, skilled and motivated enough to fulfil their tasks efficiently, equipped with all the tools they need to get the job done well, cool with their co-workers, and (most importantly) happy to be where they are.

However, this is very often not the case.

In fact, according to findings by American analytics and advisory company Gallup, a mere 13% of employees globally are engaged, i.e. ‘psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organisations’.

That leaves 63% of employees who are unmotivated and unlikely to contribute to organisational goals or outcomes. Of this majority, nearly 25% are actively disengaged, which means they are so miserable at work that they are spreading the negative vibe to their co-workers and most probably doing very bad things to their employer brands in the process.

See what we mean by choc chips and raisins?

The really crummy thing about having disengaged employees on your team is that they end up costing your business actual money.

Check out our YouTube channel for awesome videos on everything from the science of employee recognition to creating an internal communications strategy for enhanced engagement.

How disengaged employees cost your business money

When employees are disengaged at work they end up affecting your company’s bottomline in real, tangible ways. This includes:

Being absent. The effects of absenteeism goes beyond a lack of productivity on the day that the employee is not at their desk and the fact that you are paying for services that they are not rendering. It also has an impact on how effectively other employees are able to do their jobs, overall customer satisfaction, company morale, etc.  

Negatively impacting your employer brand. As mentioned before, actively disengaged employees could be keeping your company from signing up top talent by spreading negative word of mouth about your business.  

Providing poor customer service. Disengaged employees are not exactly known for going out of their way to provide customers with seamless service. As such, one unhappy worker could potentially cause you to lose out on many repeat customers simply because their heart isn’t in their work and it’s wholly apparent to the people with whom they interact on behalf of your company.


Signs of disengagement among your employees

Here are a few signs of disengagement to look out for among your employees:

Withdrawn attitude. Disengaged employees will often only do the bare minimum to get by, and withdraw from any activities or conversations in which they are not expressly instructed to take part in.

Unwillingness to communicate. When employees don't stick around after meetings to take up the next steps with their co-workers, or shy away from being roped into teamwork initiatives, it can point toward disengagement.

Changed routines. Has a once talkative employee gone quiet? Or has a punctual person started to arrive late on a regular basis? Check in to see if something may have happened to affect their engagement levels.

Silence. Speaking of silence - if you find that a given employee is consistently quiet on email chains, chat channels and in meetings it may be time to rope them in for a one-on-one meeting to see if they can be supported in any way, or roped into the team more securely.

Slap-dash style. Apathy and a lack of commitment to team goals are a clear-cut sign of disengagement. If someone does not seem to care enough to even make an effort, they are definitely not filled with the team spirit.  

Check out our YouTube channel for awesome videos on everything from the science of employee recognition to creating an internal communications strategy for enhanced engagement.

How to address disengagement when you see it

Hire for cultural fit. Okay, well technically you can’t go back in time to unhire someone who doesn’t suit your company culture, but when you do notice that there are many occurrences of employees who feel, or act, like square pegs in round holes, it should serve as a red flag regarding your hiring processes. Go back to the beginning and make sure that your recruitment advertisements draw the right candidates and that your hiring team knows what to look for when they conduct the interview process.

READ MORE: 3 Strategies for retaining top talent in 2020

Offer regular assessments and feedback. By the time that HR notices disengaged behaviour, it’s often quite late in the game. This is why it’s so important to make regular employee assessments and feedback a part of your business approach. If you can provide an employee who seems to be headed into disengaged territory with the opportunity to speak their mind, and find a way to address their pain points in a constructive way, you could very well keep them from going over to the dark side. Read more about the benefits of 360 performance reviews and how to conduct them here.

Reward the kind of behaviour you like to see. Instead of berating employees who aren’t performing the way you’d like, another tactic is to recognise and reward engaged behaviour. This approach not only encourages less engaged employees to step up to the plate, but it also provides their engaged counterparts with a welcome incentive to keep up the good work.

READ MORE: Digital employee recognition has never been easier than with bountiXP

There you have it - the short and long of why disengaged employees are bad for business. Check back soon for more expert insight on promoting employee engagement at your business and reaping the benefits of supercharged productivity as a result.

Check out our YouTube channel for awesome videos on everything from the science of employee recognition to creating an internal communications strategy for enhanced engagement.

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