Engagement is a huge issue for companies big and small. Engaged employees are far more productive than their disengaged counterparts. Just how big of a problem is engagement?

Gallup found that:

in 2015 only 32% of employees in the United States were engaged

Globally? Engagement drops to a shocking 13%!

The rest of the employees are either “not engaged” or were “actively disengaged.” Not engaged employees are those who show up and do just enough to get by. Actively disengaged employees, on the other hand, are actively working against the organizations they work for!

Low engagement plagues many companies, dragging down productivity, hurting the bottom-line, and often making work environments themselves a drag.

However, there are steps you can take to increase engagement, including offering unique benefits, setting up wellness programs, and changing management styles.

So how can you tell if employees are disengaged? How can you take stock of your workforce and determine whether or not engagement is truly an issue?

Let’s go over some telltale signs of disengaged employees and a few methods for identifying them.

1. Start by Conducting a Survey

A survey is a great way to take stock of your workforce. Gallup offers a disengagement survey, as do several other companies. You can also design your own survey.

Surveys should be anonymous.

This means that you won’t be able to identify specific employees who are disengaged. However, an engagement survey can help you assess the overall situation. For management, this can be immensely valuable.

2. Look for dropping productivity

A drop in productivity is an obvious sign of disengagement. From a company’s perspective, declining productivity is arguably the most serious consequence of disengagement.

Productivity will ebb and flow from day-to-day, so it’s essential to identify long-term trends. If a long-term trend is present it may be because the employee is disengaged.

Related article: 7 Ways to Increase Employee Productivity

3. Dropping Quality of Work

Disengaged employees will not only produce less output, but often the work they are performing simply won’t measure up.

It’s important to measure the worker by their own measurements, and to look at long term trends. A brief spike in errors may be because the worker is overwhelmed, either at work or on a personal level. However, a steady rise is often the sign of an employee disengaging. Quite simply, they are caring less and less about their work.

4. When an Employee Goes Quiet

If an employee is suddenly withdrawn, there is a risk that they are becoming disengaged. They may be pulling themselves out from the office or work environment and going into their “shell.” Of course, some employees are naturally quiet, so make sure you measure them in-and-of themselves.

If you notice that an employee is becoming quieter than they used to be, and that these periods of withdrawal last for multiple days or are indefinite, then there’s a high risk that the employee is disengaged. Even short periods of quiet could hint at problems.

5. Increased Anger and Lashing Out

If an employee is visibly angry and is expressing this anger towards managers and coworkers, this may be due to low job satisfaction or other workplace issues. Whatever the issue is, it could push the employee away from the company and cause them to become disengaged.

6. Increased time spent at the water cooler

Many disengaged employees will wander away from their desk or other work site. They might spend more time in the bathroom or more time at the water cooler.

These employees are trying to actively stay away from their responsibilities. Keep a general eye on the work environment and if you see employees wandering, look for other signs, such as declining productivity.

7. Avoids Coworkers and Lunch and Other Events

If you notice that employees are actively avoiding lunch with their coworkers, company events, and other activities, they may be disengaged. This is especially true if they participated in such events regularly is the past.

If an employee is avoiding events, try inviting them out. If they are resistant, this further hints at disengagement.

8. Increasingly Late to work or Early to Leave

It happens to everyone: you miss the alarm clock, or need to leave early to run an errand. However, disengaged employees will often begin to arrive late on a regular basis or will try to leave early. Even if they are only showing up late for work a few minutes a day, it suggests that they really don’t want to be at work.

9. Uses Sick Days As Often as Possible

Everyone gets sick at some point. Disengaged employees will use their sick days as frequently as possible. Calling in on Monday or Friday is especially common as disengaged employees want to get out of the office, or do not want their weekend to end.

If an employee seems to be quite healthy, but is frequently calling in sick, it may be because they want to avoid work.

10. Doesn’t Want to Take On More Challenges and Responsibilities

Engaged employees will often look actively and ask for new responsibilities and challenges. A disengaged employee will do the opposite and will try to avoid any new opportunities or challenges. They might cite official job duties, or simply be skittish when offered an opportunity. Now, an employee may already be overwhelmed or they may simply be disengaged.

Conclusion: Do More Than Identify, Act as Well

Monitoring for disengaged employees isn’t enough. If you find that employees are disengaged, you have to address the situation.

This doesn’t mean firing each and every disengaged employee. Indeed, doing so could actually result in rising disengagement rates among your other employees as they come to be discouraged.

There are other ways to increase engagement. Team building exercises, meetings to clear the air, offering increased incentives with increased performance, providing for more responsibility and input, there are countless ways to increase performance.

First, you need to identify what is causing disengagement. Once you know the cause of low engagement, you can formulate solutions to the specific challenges.

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By | November 26th, 2017|Employee Engagement|

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