Understanding Disengaged Employees – Part 1

Disengaged employees can cost up to $550 billion every year in the US alone in a combination of increased rates of absenteeism and low productivity.  That’s not “just a few extra dollars.” By comparison, those companies that have high levels of engaged employees have 22 percent higher profitability than their less engaged counterparts and 10 percent higher customer satisfaction ratings. These statistics speak for themselves. Also, let’s not forget that disengaged employees can have a toxic effect on other team members, dragging down team morale overall. 

 You know something even more surprising, research indicates that it is often some of the longest-serving members of a team that are disengaged. When the newness and excitement of the job decreases, often times we find our fellow team members who stay on in the job because of comfort, need or lack of motivation, however, they may very easily slip into the disengaged zone.

 Types of Disengagement 

According to Gallup, employee engagement isn’t binary. There are actually three classifications: engaged, not engaged and actively disengaged.  Actively disengaged employees are easy to spot as they fail to be a part of the team, are absent often, have a bad attitude, show a lack of initiative and are miserable every day they show up. And engaged employees are those in which they seek knowledge, take pride in their work and are actively working on the company culture even when no one is looking; in addition to doing their daily tasks with little to no mistakes.

So, what do we do with the silent majority of the not engaged workforce which makes up 50% at any given time. These “not engaged” colleagues have a few signs that to on the lookout for:  

  • Frequent use of social media
  • Exceptional amount of “breaks” to the restroom, to eat, to walk
  • An inability to celebrate even the big victories of the team, and silence on the small victories
  • Lack of curiosity about their field. They can do their job, but they don’t want to learn anything outside of that job, even if it might help They don’t want to learn and grow in their role.
  • No effort to get to know the team or those around them, because they feel like the team doesn’t care about them

When we aren’t happy or we’re uninspired at work, those emotions have a way of infiltrating all aspects of our lives.  Disengagement may be an epidemic in the American workplace, but there are ways to get our team to have “skin in the game.”

In our next blog post, we will address: what’s missing for disengaged employees and how to motivate them.

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