5 Simple Ways to Tell Your Team Are Disengaged

Lizzie Benton, Founder, Liberty Mind a culture consultancy describes ways to keep employees involved and engaged at work

In the UK alone disengaged employees cost organisations an estimated £52 billion per year in lost productivity, and with recent reports from Gallup that 73% of the UK workforce claim to feel disengaged, it’s no surprise that many organisations want to turn the tide on the disengagement data.

Disengagement is a problem, it’s a high cost to have an employee in a business who isn’t performing to the best of their ability, so as an employer it’s important to be able to recognise the vital signs of disengagement and know how to battle it.

It’s Not My Job Attitude

No matter your business type or sector you operate within, it’s vital to have a team who can spot small problems before they become critical issues.

If an employee has spotted an issue or recognised an error but has claimed ‘it’s not my job’, this is a clear sign of disengagement with both their work and the mission of the organisation.

Employees who are engaged in the company’s vision and purpose will always act in the best interest of the business, even if that means going outside of their written job role to ensure a problem is managed quickly and effectively.

A Lack of Desire to Learn

If an employee has become detached from learning or developing themselves further in the organisation, this does beg the question as to why?

Do they no longer want to grow within the organisation and support it, or are they disinterested in being part of the company?

Learning and development pathways should excite and challenge employees, and should be driven by their goals and ambitions.

If you’re finding that an employee is somewhat lacking in motivation for learning, this is an obvious sign they are feeling disengaged.

Withdrawn from Culture Activities

Culture activities such as social events are aimed at bringing employees together as a collective and creating connections. If an employee decides to withdraw from these important events it is a clear indication that they are feeling detached from the organisation and their team.

This is often a more critical issue than it seems, as they are proactively making the decision to disconnect themselves for the wider organisation, which can often cause a dangerous ripple effect and disrupt other employees.

Regular Complaining

Many employees can raise concerns about the company culture or a process that seems to be disjointed, but if you have an employee that is making regular comments about the organisation or other team members, this may be their way of saying they’re unhappy within the company.

While some comments and complaints may have grounds for action, if these complaints begin to feel personal towards the organisation or team members, it’s time to understand where the big problem lies.

Missing Deadlines

An employee not hitting deadlines is by far the most obvious sign of a disengaged employee as they are not even making the effort to complete the job they are employed for.

For small organisations this can be a real pain point, as other team members begin to get frustrated as they have to pick up on someone else’s work or support them in getting the job done.

A vicious cycle begins as deadlines are continually missed and other team members begin to feel disengaged at the unfairness.

An employee such as this is making it clear they are unhappy in the workplace and causing issues for the entire organisation rather than just themselves.

What Can You Do?

Just because an employee has been recognised as feeling disengaged at work, doesn’t necessarily mean they wish to leave the organisation.

Instead, there are many ways you can transform disengaged employees to your most engaged ambassadors.

Hold Regular 121’s

No matter the size of the organisation, employees should have regular 121’s with a leader or coach to support them and keep them motivated in the goals they would like to achieve.

Unfortunately, many goals in an organisation are predetermined by management rather than coming from the employee themselves; it’s no wonder they feel disengaged if they didn’t choose the path they have been put on.

By having a regular 121 they are able to stay focussed and driven on their goals within the organisation, and feel supported rather than just left to get on with it.

All goals need a path, and you cannot expect an employee to try and manage both their job role and goals solely without any external mentor or guide.

Build a Unique Company Culture

While the importance of company culture has been around since the 1900’s, creating a unique company culture is the key to engaging your team on the company’s vision and purpose.

Many organisations will adopt similar culture activities, environments and operations as others. For example, having bean bags and video games in the office, or allowing for dogs in the office.

These can be seen as great work perks when a new employee starts at the company, but these additions say nothing about how the company is run or why it operates?

Embedding a company culture that acts and behaves on its values and purpose is how you create a unique company culture and get people to feel engaged.

We all wish to be driven by a bigger purpose, no matter our role, so ensuring people feel like they are part of the mission by adopting the culture will ensure your entire team feel engaged.

Disengagement may be one of the biggest employee issues facing organisations today, but getting involved with your team and understanding where they are coming from is the first step in changing the culture. Most people just want to be heard, so listen.