5 ways to spot disengaged employees and what you can do about it


There are many signifiers of disengaged employees, and picking up on them early can cause a great turnaround in the motivation and productivity of your team. The question is: are you able to pick up the signs of disengagement?


Frequent absenteeism

A disengaged employee will not feel a sense of duty towards their employer therefore won’t feel bad when taking high rates of frequent, unplanned leave. A person who is not looking forward to going to work every morning is a lot less likely to get out of bed than someone who enjoys their work.


Lack of voluntary effort

If a staff member is not engaged, they are not going to go above and beyond the bare minimum of the employers expectations. It is not uncommon to see staff members deliberately limit themselves as a silent protest of discontent with their work life.


Unwilling to work in a team

Disengaged staff will express a strong dislike for teamwork, failing to collaborate well with other people. Engaged staff will find this person a source of frustration, and in turn this can create a cyclical and rapid escalation of the level of disengagement to a point where conflict seems like the only outlet for expression.


Suboptimal Productivity

Simple tasks that should be the bread and butter of an employee’s job role will suffer if the person is not engaged. Completion of these basic tasks will siphon away all the energy and focus that could have been used to achieve optimal results above and beyond their role.


Poor quality of work

A basic and easily identifiable trait shown by disengaged staff is the inability to produce work of a high, even acceptable standard. Errors, overlooked priorities and missed deadlines should be a warning sign for employers whose staff are not performing to the standard expected of them.


If your staff are showing any of these qualities in work you may have to adopt new practices that address the issue of employee disengagement, but firstly it is important to understand the reasons why disengagement happens in the first place:


Lack of trust and respect

In every relationship, not necessarily in the work environment, there is a foundation of mutual trust and respect that allows for a healthy bond. If an employee does not have confidence in the values or competency of their colleagues or the company as a whole then it is not surprising when they lack commitment or motivation for their work. Healthy workplace relationships or lack thereof are a commonly cited reason for why employees choose to join or leave an organisation.


Lack of people leadership

Employers are under a lot of stress as it is, so it sometimes happens that they let their people management slip to accommodate for other, more ‘important’ things. Inadequate focus on providing clarity, focus and accountability are surefire ways to begin the downward spiral of disengagement, and a lack of ‘soft’ management skills that focus on the people can make employees feel like just another number.


What can you do to improve engagement levels?

Once you have identified the fact you have a staff engagement issue is the first and most important step to overcome it. Overlooking disengagement is a big mistake leaders commonly make that can be extremely costly down the line. Engaged staff bring in more business and perform significantly better than those who dread coming to work each day. Engagement can be improved in a number of ways, all of which need to work together to achieve the best results:


Sense of personal value

People want to be recognised for doing a good job and feel like they are really contributing to the overarching values of the company. Feeling qualified and successful are great energisers to motivate staff and influence them to feel connected.



We have already mentioned how important workplace relationships are, so making sure your staff can see and be inspired by those who elicit trust and respect will strengthen relationships and help identify those that don’t necessarily benefit or encourage employees.



Everyone wants to have a purpose, right? It is no different in the workplace, where completing tasks with no clear end goal can be draining on morale. Feeling a part of something bigger will encourage individuals to work toward the common goal and put more into their work.



Staff are not going to enjoy working in an organisation that gives off a positive view to the future. Employees want to feel hopeful, optimistic and empowered by their role in the business.



Hire and retain the right people, give them support and encouragement and you have won half of the battle. Of course, there is only so much an employer can do to engage an employee, with the rest having to come from within the person themselves. You can’t make someone love their job if they really can’t enjoy it, but giving them the opportunity to be engaged in the company culture and environment is a huge and positive step forward to creating a confident and empowered workforce.


Get in touch if you would like to improve your employee engagement levels with our Employee Engage App.


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