In general, there are three types of employees:
- Engaged: These are your powerhouse staff members who work hard and exceed expectations.
- Disengaged: These folks have trouble staying on task. They may miss deadlines, take more sick days than usual, and turn in lackluster work.
- Actively disengaged: This is the employee who is clearly miserable at his or her job. They undermine their co-workers and sabotage productivity with a negative attitude.
It’s common to dismiss a disengaged employee, but that could cost you. Gallup estimates that disengaged employees cost approximately $500 billion in productivity each year.
Signs of Employee Disengagement
Employee disengagement can be tricky to identify. Sometimes it’s obvious — a staff member stops showing up, arrives late, or frequently leaves early. Other times, disengagement appears in missed deadlines or lackluster performance. Regardless, disconnected employees drain productivity and hurt your bottom line.
Below are five telltale signs your employees are disengaged. If you’re using performance management software or a similar solution to track each team member’s productivity and progress, these will be easier to spot.
1. They’re falling behind.
If you start hearing excuses such as, “I didn’t realize I was supposed to do that,” or “I think someone else made that mistake,” it’s a sign that your employee isn’t keeping up with his or her work. This type of disengagement is sneaky, and it causes a slow drain on your productivity. If this is happening on your team, keep in mind that family issues or a heavy workload can cause employees to rush through deadlines and forget about important tasks. Rule out these issues before you take any drastic actions.
2. Their work is “good enough.”
You want your team to strive for excellence, rather than simply getting tasks off of their plate. Engaged employees are always looking for new ways to excel and go above and beyond what’s expected. Employees who have lost their motivation won’t give you their best effort, and they may fly under the radar, hoping you won’t notice that they aren’t delivering the high quality work.
3. Employees are standoffish or withdrawn.
Employees who are engaged with their work participate in meetings, offering new ideas, insight into their work, and other important contributions. If you notice that an employee starts to become withdrawn or quiet during team meetings, it could be a sign that they are feeling burned out or disengaged. You might notice their minds drifting or even that they are having trouble staying awake.
Disengaged employees will find any reason to skip work, arrive late, or leave early. If you notice frequent excuses about doctor appointments, illnesses, family matters and more, this could be cause for concern. It’s also a sign of disengagement if they ignore deadlines, communications, and meetings when they are out of the office. Even if employees are physically at work, they could be mentally absent if you see them zoning out on social media, staring into space, or forgetting to complete tasks.
5. Employees aren’t interested in growth.
Employees who are engaged with your company are motivated to grow their skills. They will jump at the chance to participate in new projects or offer innovative ideas. If you notice your company lagging in this area, it’s possible that employees are burned out or disconnected from your mission.
It’s important to have a happy, productive and loyal workforce. If you spot signs of a disengaged employee or department, it’s best to address the problem right away. Talk to your staff to find out what’s going on, and be clear about your expectations for productivity, attendance, and performance. Investing in happier employees will improve morale and directly impact your bottom line — in a good way.