By Barret Selby

Disengaged workers can drag your company down if you don’t take the time to identify them and apply the necessary solutions.

Employees who are not fulfilled in their jobs can cost a corporation a lot of money, resulting from low productivity. Employee disengagement is a familiar problem for many organizations as a 2014 Gallup study showed that only 31.5% of U.S employees were engaged. Workers who are not engaged in their duties can be a hindrance to the ones who are and may spread their lack of enthusiasm, thus the need to deal with the issue before it becomes too big to handle. How can you recognize disengagement? Which are the signs to watch out for and what is the proper approach?
What are the most common signs of employee disengagement?

Constant Absenteeism

Sick days, medical, and family emergencies are some of the reasons an employee may not show up to work, and everyone can have a few of those in a year. However, a disengaged worker will take advantage and use up all the sick days he/she can get. Rising every morning to face the day’s responsibilities is hard for a lot of people, but employees who dread or loathe their jobs will find it more difficult, so they find excuses not to show up. If your company has a worker who you rarely see, there is a problem.

No Teamwork

Disengaged employees don’t have the patience to work with other people, which makes teamwork impossible. They are the ones who cause most of the conflicts at the workplace because they tend to create frustrations in the engaged workers. An employee who refuses to communicate, attend meetings or even finish his or her portion of a project messes up with the synergy of the entire group and compromises the work that others have already accomplished.

Doing the Bare Minimum

An employee who is disengaged will typical do the very least that the job description demands. This type of behavior can be easily observed for creative positions such as marketing manager, where the job descriptions is barely an outline of the daily workflow. Lack of enthusiasm or passion leads to an absence of initiative, and that can be detrimental to the growth of an entity as well as the individual. Employees who only do what they need to keep the job don’t provide much input to the organization and are not returning on the investment you made. You can learn about such workers through dissatisfied customers or other staff members who are getting dragged down by subpar performance.

Poor Productivity

Workers who spend all their time gossiping in the break room, going from one cubicle to another distracting the other employees are no good for an enterprise’s productivity. A disengaged employee doesn’t care if the company meets its objectives; and therefore, doesn’t work to achieve optimal results. However, this type of behavior can be caused by being undervalued, underworked or overworked. Another scenario would be for employees that were overlooked for promotions or they haven’t got salary raise in years.

Increased Conflicts

A few disagreements are common among colleagues, but disengaged workers are constantly at odds with others. Individuals who are sick of working in a company will be negative towards it, which will affect every decision they make, thus causing problems with everyone else. A disengaged worker can be argumentative and disagree with just about every suggestion that is not his or hers.

Dealing with Disengagement

Spotting lack of engagement in your staff is only part of the job since learning how to address the situation in the best interest of the enterprise and workers is critical. One cause of disengagement is poor leadership. Your top executives may not be providing their subordinates with the guidance they need to excel at their jobs, which may cause discontent; and eventually, disengagement. Managers who don’t appreciate a job well done can leave employees feeling undervalued. Ensure that all leaders are attending to their responsibilities as necessary. Coaching can help boost their leadership skills.
Lack of trust in the workplace can lead to an unhealthy environment and ultimately disengagement among the workers. The staff has to rely on each other to achieve the company objectives, and that is only possible if there is mutual respect. Create an organizational culture that revolves around trust and communication to stop some people from feeling undermined.

As the management, know how to tell apart an office jerk from a disengaged staff member. Someone may be causing problems because it’s his or her nature, but that doesn’t necessarily point to disengagement. Find out what is causing the negativity in a worker who is lashing out at others.
Workers who have to handle responsibilities that are beyond their expertise can get dissatisfied with their jobs, which leads to disengagement. Managers should ensure that assigned tasks correspond to skills.
For employees who are always late or absent, managers need to dig deeper just to be clear that something else is not the issue like poor time management skills or challenges with work-life balance.

Ignoring signs of employee disengagement is a common mistake among leaders. Understand that the top executives are very critical at influencing how the staff relates to one another and their commitment to responsibilities; therefore, the slightest symptom of a disengaged worker should be followed by appropriate action. The management should work on understanding its employees and providing a work setting that inspires them.

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