January 14, 2022

6 Signs Your Employees are Disengaged and How to Fix It

Sam Caucci

Employee engagement is important to have a productive and positive workplace environment. When employees are completely engaged in what they do for work, they are able to embody the vision, values, and purpose of the organization they work for. They go on to become more passionate contributors, problem solvers, and great colleagues to work with. 

Employee engagement is a relatively new concept, as it was only coined back in the 90s. However, the idea is simple: employees are able to make more of a difference at work when they are engaged. Unfortunately, only 30 to 40% of workers in the United States are engaged. This means that the majority of employees are showing up for work disengaged. 

Disengaged employees are not in the position to put in effort for success. In fact, they do not like to show up for work, and some might even dread it, on most days. They will be unlikely to recommend products or services from their employer, or recommended employment with their employer as well. 

There are some things that might be obvious when it comes to spotting a disengaged employee, such as absenteeism, low energy, or having a bad attitude. But there are some other signs that you should be aware of early on. 

Withdrawal

Employees who feel disengaged will withdraw from any conversations or activities deemed necessary. They will also tend to only do the minimum to get by, will decrease their productivity levels, and will no longer give extra effort beyond that. 

Withdrawal could be an indication of many things, including bullying or issues between coworkers. If you conduct an investigation and this is not the case, then this can be a sign of disengagement.

Taking More Breaks or Time Off

Of course, all employees are entitled to take breaks, and taking breaks is an important part of being productive. However, if an employee begins to abuse this trust and starts taking longer or more frequent breaks, it can be a sign that they are disengaged. 

When employees don’t care as much as they used to, there is a chance that they will take some extra time at lunch, or take longer smoke breaks, etc. this behavior can also start to rub off on other engaged employees, this can lead others to question why they are working so hard and might think it’s a better idea to join in on unproductive behaviors. 

On the flip side, engaged employees are more likely to only take breaks when they actually need to for the benefit of their own wellbeing. Not just to pass the time. 

Lack of Communication or Silence

One major sign of disengagement is a lack of communication or silence. This can happen during team calls, through email, or in missed meetings altogether. If an employee seems like they are distancing themselves, take some steps to connect with them one-on-one. And make sure that they know their leaders or managers are available to chat. 

Find out what motivates them and try to coach them towards their goals. It’s also a good idea to encourage team members to reach out and provide support. Or, hold a team lunch or fun outing to help strengthen relationships. 

Not Up For a Challenge or Extra Responsibility

When employees are engaged, they want to push themselves to keep learning and reaching their career goals. In return, they are more invested in their organization’s success. Disengaged employees might have been a star player in the past, however, they may no longer be interested in progressing or facing new challenges. They may also start to pass up opportunities that are good for their progression where they would excel. 

When you notice these signs, it’s important to dig a bit deeper. Try to discuss with the employee the motivation behind their decisions, and try to locate where the problem lies, whether that be in their workload, or if they are disengaged. This could also be a sign that an employee is interested in leaving the organization, as anyone with a long-term commitment to their company would want to impress. 

Apathy

Almost any time that you see apathy in an employee, or a lack of commitment, it can be a clear sign that they are looking to leave. Some signs of apathy include unwillingness to engage in healthy discourse, not caring enough to defend their own ideas, not fulfilling commitments, and not being willing to be accountable for their actions. 

Ignoring Working Hours

Everyone has days when they accidentally miss their alarm, or they need to leave early to make an important appointment, however when this happens on a regular basis then it is likely that you have a disengaged worker on your hands. 

When employees are disengaged, they sometimes can make a show out of showing up late or leaving early. They will no longer care about keeping up appearances, instead, they choose to show that they don’t care about the rules of the workplace. 

Ways to Re-engage Disengaged Employees

If you notice these signs with your employees in your teams, then have no fear. There are a few steps you can take to re-engage them:

Ask questions

To understand what is causing disengagement within your employees, you will need to ask them! Find out what is turning them off about their day-to-day tasks. Most employees won’t feel comfortable openly discussing anything that might be negative about the company or openly admit that they do not feel engaged. 

You can help them by running confidential surveys so that they don’t feel afraid to speak up. You can ask questions about company culture, management or responsibilities, so you can better understand what is causing disengagement. 

When you get regular feedback from your employees, you can become aware of problems early on and you can work out solutions much quicker because they turn into big problems. You can also keep checking back to see what has worked and what needs some tweaking, this can help lead to a more structured engagement plan.

Recognize effort

Disengagement usually comes from employees feeling as if they are working hard for not much in return. It’s always important to show your employees that you appreciate and recognize their work. When you make an effort to do this, your engagement levels will remain high.

Using reward and recognition tools, such as gamified training platforms like 1Huddle, allows everyone in the company to celebrate one another’s achievements. When you see your employees working hard, you’ll be able to shout them out. 

When your employees feel like they are being recognized and rewarded for their efforts, they will become much more engaged with their work and environment. They will also be much more likely to go the extra mile since they know that their hard work will pay off and be noticed.

Keep Your Employees Engaged with 1Huddle

At 1Huddle, we offer cloud-based employee gamification software that can easily adapt to any employee training or gamification strategy you want to implement at your workplace. You can customize your content for a seamless experience and all of your employees will be able to access their training anywhere, anytime, and at the push of a button. You can use our gamification platform to measure their performance and make key decisions on where you should take your gamification strategy next. 

Do you want to learn more about how 1Huddle can help you level up your own workforce? Start your free trial of 1Huddle today.

Sam Caucci, Founder & CEO at 1Huddle

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