Identifying and dealing with disengaged employees

Identifying and dealing with disengaged employees

When an employee starts to feel demotivated at work, as a director/manager you will usually be the last to know. Through nor fault of your own, you may not have even noticed that things have started to slip. Are your deadlines being met? Is all work completed to the usual standard? Are they showing a lack of initiative?  All these signs could point to something being not quite right and its important to be aware of these signs so you’re able to spot and act upon a disengaged employee in the future, before the problem escalates. Disengaged employees usually have a lot of potential but may feel that their voice isn’t being heard, we need to recognise the signs, re-engage and then support.

A decrease in productivity and poor quality of work is often the first sign you have a disengaged employee. As well as this, the cost of a disengaged employee can start to rise when you consider the effect this can have the rest of your team and not to mention the customer.  This could sadly have a knock on effect, if not nipped in the bud. If other employees notice that a member of the team is doing significantly less work than they are, wouldn’t they feel less motivated to work hard themselves? Why should they put in 100% effort when others aren’t?  In fact any infamous “discretionary effort” that your key talented and engaged employees provide could be at risk of being lost completely.

Is a member of staff taking an unusual amount of time off without a reasonable excuse? Of course employees are entitled to days off when they are feeling unwell or for annual leave but when their absence is becoming more regular, they may be showing an underlying issue. It may be useful to pull your employee aside to mention your concern for them.

Are they socialising less with other members of the team?  Showing less interest in activities in work and retreating by themselves for lunch?  Again, all signs of an unhappy employee that need addressing.  It could simply be you notice a once active, talkative member of staff has gone quiet and withdrawn.  We of course, all have “off” days but if its a reoccurrence then the issue could be more serious. Engaged employees will often look actively and ask for new responsibilities and challenges – going beyond the minimal effort and unconsciously using “discretionary effort”. A disengaged employee will do the opposite and will try to avoid any new opportunities or challenges.

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Whether your employee’s issue is regarding home or work-life, it needs to be addressed in order to regain productivity. A useful idea may be reminding all employees that your office door is always open if they feel the need to talk, regardless the matter.

Communication between you and your employees is vital, by frequently providing feedback to your employees you are positively engaging with them, this can often result in an increase in productivity as employees like to feel appreciated and assured that the work they carry out has an impact. Employees need reassurance that you have full confidence in them and their work, to regain their engagement.

Work ethic slides when employees become disengaged, so don’t give them the opportunity to fall out of alignment with the company. Encourage your employees to engage and collaborate with one another to help continuous grow within your business. It may be useful to offer courses to employees to expand their learning, this also shows them you believe they have potential.  Ask them to develop a career plan. Show your employees that you are invested in their futures — before a valued member of your team decides to leave.

Recognition is vital, by praising and recognising the efforts that team members have made gives them a sense of self-worth and a desire to maintain good work. Connect on a personal level, you cannot expect an employee to feel engaged if the company doesn’t connect with them personally.  Small gestures and socials will help to create a bond.

When communicating, if negative feedback needs to be given, you should still try make this a positive experience, offer help where necessary and provide them with the guidance needed in order for them to be more efficient, successful and motivated to work and grow within your business.

Discretionary effort is often called ‘going the extra mile’. If your employees is committed to your business, its something they’re likely to be doing on a regular basis. Its the difference between what you have to do, and what you want to do in the workplace.

For more information on issues surrounding disengaged employees please contact us here.

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Sandra Berns

Centric HR was founded by Sandra Berns, a confident and versatile Human Resources and Organisational Development Practitioner with 25 years demonstrable experience and a Fellow of the CIPD. Sandra has both Operational and Strategic HR expertise across Public and Private sectors and has assisted senior teams in meeting challenging workforce objectives in many corporate environments.