Starting a new job is exciting. It means new challenges, better pay, and a new feather in an employee’s quest for a better experience in their chosen field of work. Employees cannot wait for the onboarding process, so they can start working and showcase their abilities.
When the employee seems to be a top performer, they can start falling off the track by not showing any enthusiasm for the work and delaying projects or tasks. This can happen in a few months or years, and a common cause for this kind of performance is disengagement.
What do you mean by a disengaged employee?
A disengaged employee is someone who doesn't bring their 100% to work. They are no longer enthusiastic about their work and find ways to keep themselves busy but not productive.
A manager or HR leader can easily identify these team members, especially when working on their performance appraisal and tracking their progress towards their KPIs or OKRs.
Disengaged employees can cost your business
Disengagement can lead to a loss in the employee's performance. This loss of productivity results in more significant problems like loss of actual business profits. It is possible to estimate the cost of a disengaged employee to the company. Each disengaged employee costs a company around 34% of its salary.
For example, if the average salary of an American employee is $48,672, a 34% loss to the company per disengaged employee would be around $16,548 per year.
This might sound like a small number. But consider a company with 200 employees, one-third of them are disengaged; this will cost the company about $10,92,168, which is quite a significant loss.
This is why businesses need to understand the factors that lead to disengagement at work and increase employee engagement.
Factors that lead to disengaged employees
Every employee has chosen to work for your business, so they should be happy when working with your business. So then, why do they get disengaged and lose interest in their work?
Here are a few factors that could potentially lead to disengaged employees:
1. Work that isn’t challenging
All employees want to be challenged positively. That is why they take up tasks and jobs that challenge their knowledge and experience. This helps them improve their skills and learn more.
When an employee does not feel challenged enough in their role, they start to lose interest in the job they are supposed to do.
2. Losing sight of their purpose
Along with challenging work, employees nowadays do not want to go in and be told to do a task. They want to believe that they serve a larger purpose than just completing tasks to make money. This is why many employees today choose companies with a proper mission and vision that allow employees to align their purpose with their work.
When this is not fulfilled, employees lose focus and their quality of work drops.
3. Unrealistic expectations
Yes, employees want to be challenged. But if you keep changing the expectations frequently or have unrealistic expectations, it demotivates them and sets them up for failure.
This is the difference between asking a marketing manager to bring in 20 leads a month, close 25 new prospects a month while still generating content, managing social media channels and marketing freelancers. The manager will likely fail at a few or most of the tasks.
This results in the disengagement of even the high performers as they feel that they cannot grow as individuals since they are pulled in multiple directions due to unrealistic expectations.
All the employees are working towards achieving the business goals, and it is part of their job to ensure they complete their tasks. But if the company culture is focused on treating hard work and accomplishments as just completing their jobs, then employees start to lose interest in those tasks.
Everyone wants to be appreciated for the effort they put into doing things. It could be a small activity like the pantry manager replenishing the coffee beans or an account executive diverting a crisis by calming down an angry and disgruntled client.
Every employee deserves to be appreciated, and when they do not get that appreciation, it results in employee disengagement and a massive loss of productivity.
Telltale signs of employee disengagement
There are always signs that the business can keep an eye out to identify disengaged employees.
1. No participation
When employees feel disengaged, they usually skip participating in activities. These could be project-related discussions or fun activities organized by the teams. If an individual is not participating, it is a clear sign of disengagement at work. Yes, there are always shy people at work, but even the most introverted people are interested in something and open up when opportunities arise.
2. No motivation to learn
An employee's unwillingness to learn new skills is another sign of disengagement. It indicates that they are not being engaged enough at work to feel excited to learn and improve their work.
3. Not having a good attitude
Employees bring their entire selves to work, including their good and bad attitudes. It is common for someone to have a bad day and lose control at work. Still, if this scenario keeps repeating regularly, it is an apparent cause of issues bothering the employee, stopping them from adequately engaging at work.
4. Not being present
A disengaged employee will take a lot of breaks and use any reason not to come to work, resulting in increased sick days. Suppose this behavior continues more often than is acceptable; the company must understand that the employee could be disengaged and chooses not to be present at work for as much time as possible.
Tips to increase employee engagement
Identifying a disengaged employee is the first step. Once identified, the business can put together a series of processes and steps to help improve employee engagement.
Here are a few tips that can help improve employee engagement:
1. Opportunity to learn
As indicated before, most employees want to learn and be challenged. If the business can understand each employee’s skill set and provide them with opportunities to learn and experiment with new skills, it would boost their engagement.
It is also essential that managers provide good feedback to ensure that the employee can learn and take more ownership of new initiatives at work. This keeps the employee highly engaged at work.
2. Opportunity to be recognised
The company's expectations and work culture can help employees understand their place in the organization. Once they contribute to the business, it is essential for the company to recognise the employee’s efforts.
3. Opportunity to grow
Businesses need to understand and appreciate that employees are individuals with their own goals, ambitions and lives outside work. Providing a clear career path and a good balance between their work and personal lives enables the business to improve the engagement level of the employees as they appreciate the company supporting their personal growth.
4. Opportunity to bond
We spend a large portion of our lives at work, and we all agree that we have some great friendships cultivated from our professional lives. Suppose businesses encourage and support this bonding by creating team-building activities and promoting collaborative projects with a little healthy competition. In that case, it can help individuals within the business bond and become engaged at work.
With enough effort, you can course-correct
These are just a few tips. There are more ways for a business to improve employee engagement at work. If you feel that some of your employees are disengaged, you do not need to worry. You can use platforms like Mesh, which encourage better mentorship and provide managers with an excellent opportunity to have a one-on-one with their team members to understand their requirements and put together a plan to improve their engagement at work.