The majority of the workforce is unengaged. Rather than work, disengaged employees are usually spending their days socializing, surfing the internet, shopping online, and possibly even job hunting. Reasons for this include a lack of challenging work, too many work hours and feelings of dissatisfaction. It really is unfortunate because most employees simply want a positive environment where they can do their best work. Low engagement costs United States companies over $350 billion in revenue every year. There are several signs that you want to look out for when it comes to employee engagement to make sure your employees aren’t adding dollars to that waste.
The first sign is if the employee suddenly withdraws. Some employees have a quiet and shy nature, so be aware of that before you jump to conclusions. However, it is important to keep an eye on disengaged employees over time. If you notice an employee suddenly gets quiet and withdraws for a few days, you may have a problem. This includes sending emails when they previously would have picked up the phone or walked over for a conversation, as well as limiting conversation in meetings.
2) Decrease in Quality
Next is a drop in the quality of work produced. Many times, you can notice employees taking longer to complete assignments or simply producing less. If the lack of quality is consistent, you most likely have a disengaged employee. Sometimes, though, a brief period of underperformance is possible due to work and life stress. However, if it’s continual, it means your employee is starting to care less. Make sure that you’re meeting with your employees regularly so that you have a connection with them and they feel comfortable coming to you with any challenges they’re facing.
Another more obvious way of seeing that your employees are disengaged is if you see an attitude or anger. If an employee is visibly upset or even lashing out on managers or co-workers, it is not a good sign. This could be because the employee is having issues within the workplace that need to be addressed or that they are simply unhappy with their current job. Also, pay attention to their activity when you’re walking down the hall towards them. Do you notice that they start frantically clicking and beads of sweat start to form the closer you get? This is a tell-tale sign that the employee is surfing the web in a place they know that they shouldn’t be.
4) Over Socializing
Too much socializing could also be a sign of disengagement. If your employees are constantly wandering around the office, gossiping at the water cooler, creating meetings for the sake of having a meeting or getting gummed up in online chat conversations with coworkers, that is a sign that they are bored and contributing to a lack of productivity.
When an employee avoids coworkers or work-related events, they are not making a full contribution to the team. Sometimes, people don’t enjoy the social aspects of work life and that’s okay. If an employee took part in these things before and is recently showing avoidance, though, they are most likely disengaged.
Tardiness and leaving work early are more signs that an employee is lacking at their job. Sometimes it is necessary to come late or leave early. Life does throw curveballs every once in a while, but if it is occurring often and/or affecting work, they are checking out. You will want to communicate with your employees to ensure there aren’t any outside forces affecting their tardiness, but begin watching closely. It’s also important to be very clear about your remote work expectations and policies. While remote work in today’s day and age can increase productivity, getting sucked into unnecessary tasks at home will contribute to tardiness and also affect teamwork within the office.
7) Sick Often
Finally, overusing sick days is a sign of disengaged employees. People do get sick or have doctor appointments, so there should be some kind of leeway, but you know when the use of sick leave becomes excessive, or employees begin to abuse it. Long weekends are usually a sign of this.
What You Can Do
Once you’ve discovered one or more of these things happening, you should communicate with your employees and try to understand if there is an underlying reason to be disengaged. Also, take a look at what you can do technologically to bring employees back into the fold. Do you have clear key performance indicators laid out and are you tracking them automatically where your employees can see them? Are you monitoring or restricting traffic to unwanted websites to reduce temptation? Are you providing all the tools necessary for an employee to do their job or are you haranguing them with outdated hardware/software? Are you creating an environment for innovation and creativity with the latest and greatest tools for collaboration? If you employ some of these strategies and find out how to motivate your staff, it will help boost morale and re-engage complacent employees.