Managers know that disengaged workers are a problem, but they may not realize the truly big impact such workers have on the bottom line — and how much better engaged workers perform.
For example, disengaged workers cost their organizations an average of $3,400 every year for every $10,000 in annual salary, according to statistics from McLean & Co. On the other hand, companies with highly engaged employees had an average three-year revenue growth of more than 20% compared to the average 9% revenue growth rate.
Further, an AON Hewitt study finds that organizations that actively managed employee engagement as compared to their counterparts during the economic downturn are now seeing dramatic and positive impacts to their revenue growth.
So, it’s clear that ignoring employees who become disengaged — or failing to take action quickly enough — can not only hurt a team, but an entire company. Here’s how to recognize the signs that employees are becoming disengaged and what to do about it.
Puts in Little Effort
This worker doesn't even meet minimal requirements and cares little for the job or the organization. He is likely to watch the clock and take long breaks.
The solution: Sit down with such employees and make sure the basics are being met. Does the employee have the right tools and resources to do the job? Are expectations clear? Gallup research shows that getting the basics right is often critical to engaging workers.
This is someone who isn’t looking for the good in anything or anyone. He sows seeds of discontent wherever he goes and is known to make snarky comments under his breath during meetings.
The solution: Try challenging this worker in a new way by cross-training him in another department or sending him to a learning event for a few days. Task this worker with trying to find a solution to a tricky problem you’ve been wanting to tackle. A busy, challenged employee is one who doesn’t have the time or energy to be snippy.
A worker who begins taking lunch alone, skipping company gatherings, or avoiding other colleagues — after previously being more sociable — is a sign that she is stepping back emotionally and mentally from the job and organization.
The solution: Start slowly by asking the employee for coffee before the day gets too busy, then enlist some of your most upbeat and dependable workers to join you and the disengaged worker for lunch. Don’t get heavy-handed, but try to slowly re-engage the worker and consider giving her a mentor to guide her through the coming months.
The disengaged worker may begin to sound like a know-it-all, refusing to work with others on the team or being condescending to others.
The solution: This employee needs to be educated in the value of diverse opinions. Research abounds about the bottom-line impact that comes from listening and collaborating with others who offer different outlooks and opinions. Let the worker know that her knowledge is valued, but so are the views of others — and the bottom-line health of the organization depends on letting everyone be heard.
The employee who doesn’t care that a project is in trouble, a customer is unhappy, or the competition is winning is disengaged.
The solution: Remind the employee how her job makes a difference. Let her personally meet someone who has been helped by what she did. Ask other department heads to let her know how what she does matters to other teams.
The important thing to remember about re-engaging a worker is that it can’t be a one-size-fits all approach. Take the time to ask questions, listen carefully, and then work with the employee to come up with solutions to the problems they believe they’re experiencing.