How to Re-engage the Disengaged Worker

3 min read
Mar 19, 2015

iStock_000040622538_SmallWe’ve all seen it — the employee who spends too much time on their smartphone and too little time on the task at hand. Or the employee who completes their tasks, but does so while shut off from the rest of the company. Or, worse, the employee who just doesn’t seem to care about whether the company succeeds or fails.

The ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is roughly two-to-one, according to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report. With only 30% of the US workforce considered engaged in their work, it’s time to take action.

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Rather than brushing off these signs of a disengaged employee or letting talent walk out the door, you should seek to re-engage the disengaged. Here are four easy ways to steer disengaged employees back on track:

1. Help Them See the Big Picture

Employees who don’t understand the company vision are essentially walking without a destination in mind. And walking aimlessly can have lasting damage on an organization. To make sure everyone is heading in the same direction, regularly communicate the company mission, vision, and values. Keeping employees informed on the company strategy will help give their work more meaning.

Additionally, help employees see where they fit into the big picture. Understanding how their efforts directly contribute to the success of the company will motivate them to perform at their best. Not to mention, it can give employee morale a much-needed boost.

2. Aid Employees in Leveling-Up

Invest in your employees and they’ll invest in you — it’s that simple. Offering opportunities for personal growth can inspire newfound commitment to the organization. Although the primary responsibility for an individual’s growth rests with the individual, employers should strive to encourage, support, and provide resources for their development.  

Whether you implement skills training, send employees to professional development events, assign mentors, or arrange lunch and learns, your employees will appreciate the opportunity to polish and expand their skills.   

3. Celebrate Success

Recognizing employees for their contributions isn’t just a nice thing to do, it’s essential to keeping employees engaged in their work. In fact, a recent report by the Harvard Business Review found that 72% of executives cite recognition given for high performance as having a significant impact on employee engagement.

Recognizing employees for their individual successes is a powerful communication tool that both rewards and reinforces their actions and behaviors—not only to the individual employee, but to your entire workforce. Whether you say it with an award or a simple pat on the back, just be sure to say it.  

4. Make Time to Reconnect

This is arguably the single most important thing you can do to re-engage employees. Why? Making an effort to connect with employees shows that you care. And employees that feel valued by their employers are much more likely to go above and beyond in pursuit of organizational success.

To reconnect with employees, start by frequently interacting with them — both in and outside of the workplace. This isn’t to say that you should necessarily join employees on their late-night escapades, but rather take the time to orchestrate team-building activities outside of the office. Take an afternoon off to volunteer or start a softball team. Activities like these can act as workplace incentives, as well as improve camaraderie between team members.

In the end, it’s often the little things that matter the most to employees. Being transparent, fostering a culture of learning, and taking the time to personally connect with employees can help support a happy, engaged workforce.

What do you think? How do you strive to re-engage the disengaged? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.



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