Disengaged Employees – Still a Plague Costing Billions?
We all lose interest in our work at times, and perhaps the most successful employees have a strategy for getting their focus and enthusiasm back. But do companies have any means of identifying disengaged employees and helping them regain their interest?
As the title graphic above from Gallop suggests, the cost of employee disengagement to the US economy alone is between $300 to $400 Billion annually. That’s a sizable sizable problem that businesses don’t seem to be managing very well. As this chart below reveals, it is a persistent problem in today’s workplace with an estimated 70% disengagement rate.
Recent surveys by pollster Gallop polls, suggests employee disengagement is a persistent problem and that when employees become engaged, customer service, productivity and business profitability increase and time and product loss decrease. These polls unfortunately didn’t measure worker happiness or offer reasons as to the “why.”
It makes sense though that if employees are engaged in their 8 hour a day work schedules, that it may improve their happiness. Other factors that can affect worker happiness and engagement are job design, work environment, salary, benefits, vacation time, and recognition. This is an area HR consultants could deliver insight into.
For businesses trying to stay competitive in local, national or international markets, keeping employees engaged means having a means to measure worker performance and generating feedback from employees themselves.
The problem of worker disengagement might be different for small businesses versus large businesses. Large organizations have more specialized roles and more bureaucracy in employee management. Management in small businesses is likely more responsive to change. Disruptive HR is easier in smaller organizations than in larger ones.
Either way, companies need to pay attention to worker disengagement if it becomes an ongoing status for any staff members.
What are the top 8 signs of Staff Disengagement?
- poor communication and disinterest in how they relate to others
- lack of initiative or not offering help to other employees
- complaining instead of looking for good solutions
- lack of purpose and enthusiasm about the work they’re doing and what the company is achieving
- demanding, know it all, and inflexible means they’re ignoring other staff’s situation and feelings
- no interest in professional growth and improvement
- watching the clock because they’re more interested in being somewhere else
- productivity is lower and they have no interest in being more productive
Disengaged employees may be a poor fit for the company or their jobs have been poorly designed. A review of the worker’s job description, role, salary, and re-orientation to the company’s needs should be done before the worker is psychologically lost to the company or quits to find a better job.
Why Are Some Employees Engaged in Their Jobs
Engaged employees may simply be employees who are a great fit for the company and their work role. They enjoy their jobs and are enabled in contributing to the company and staff. The job itself may be rewarding. The same person placed in another position might well become a disengaged worker.
Engaged employees may be trained well, well compensated, given attention to ensure they feel wanted, were onboarded and oriented well so they align with the company, and are encouraged to provide feedback about how they’re performing and enjoying working at the company. They are likely to feel more enabled to contribute and manage how they contribute.
It isn’t always easy to spot a disengaged employee as they could hide behaviours and still be relatively productive. Sometimes employees become disengaged when bored with repetitive, emotionally and intellectually unrewarding work, or through social isolation, or when there’s been change in the company structure and direction itself. Sometimes ambitious, productive employees disengage with a company that has stagnated. Eventually, they will tune out completely leading to conflict at work and then be fired or leave the company. That’s the timeless process we’ve all seen through the decades.
Sometimes performance is the issue. If the worker feels they can’t perform well and produce needed results, they may continue working in the role, yet tune out as a psychological defense mechanism. Until they find another job elsewhere, they continue to show up for work.
A Better Solution for Disengagement
While your HR consultant may have tools and techniques to test for disengagement, HR software might be sufficient to help you discover and manage it. HR software has modules for setting performance goals that employees can own and manage themselves. That’s proactive and improves their sense of accomplishment and responsibility. HR software also allows workers to enter worktimes, schedule events, and let their bosses know more about what they’re doing. That eases issues between workers and bosses who can communicate via email.