How To Spot If Your People Are Disengaged

Two people exchanging a high five in a virtual meeting, Frankli performance management and engagement software

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There are very few things in the world of business that are more important than having engaged people and the reasons for it go far beyond company success. According to Gallup, 54% of disengaged employees believe their work-life impacts negatively on their physical health. Engagement, therefore, plays a significant role in every aspect of your business from its bottom line to its retention because it’s to do with the wellbeing of those at the core of your company.

As a leader, rectifying reduced engagement levels is one thing, but spotting it before it reaches crisis levels is just as vital. No one wants their people’s experiences to reach a low point where they find themselves switching off. We all want everyone to stay connected. The difficulty is you cannot expect your people to alert you when they are feeling detached from their work. If they reach this stage, they often require help in identifying it and support to overcome it.

Disengagement can also appear in many forms; it can be subtle, manifesting over time so, recognising it isn’t always straight-forward. On top of that, the role of an HRM is multifaceted, and it’s possible to overlook the tell-tale signs easily. There are a few things you can look out for, however and we have put together some of the indicators to help spot disengagement in those that matter most.

Frequent Excuses

A disengaged employee will find all the reasons not to take accountability for their actions. Whether it be a simple “I didn’t have time.” or a “Sorry I’m late, I got held up.” Regular excuses are a clear indicator that someone is disconnected. Of course, there are times when these reasons are truths, but HRM’s must be able to distinguish the difference between the two and handle them as necessary.

Excessive Complaints

Let us be clear when we say a valid complaint from your people should always be welcome in a healthy work environment. However, frequent and nit-picky complaints that do not carry the same weight should not be and require different treatment. If the company is never good enough for some employees, listen to those alarm bells. Often a disengaged person finds critique anywhere and everywhere they can. HRMs should always handle the valid complaints quickly and effectively, but it’s imperative to make the correct distinction between the person who wants to see substantial improvement in their environment and someone who is withdrawing from their work.

Lack of Initiative

People engaged with their work will enjoy it, find new things to do and try to solve problems that appear in their path. However, the disengaged would use these stumbling blocks to halt or postpone their work. For some, a broken printer means heading to the manager’s office to inform them it needs to be fixed, while to others a broken printer means a free ticket to put their feet up and relax. If someone has shown little to no initiative in their work, it’s time for the HRM to step in. Sometimes the person might need more training in how to properly handle situations that halt their work. Or it may need more serious attention such as an in-depth meeting discussing what the business can do to help the employee re-discover a sense of satisfaction in their work.

Regularly Distracted

Those disengaged with their work will almost always have something else on their mind when they are working. Again it is the role of the HRM to identify if this is something serious that the company can help with such as bullying or it's merely that the employee would rather be anywhere else but work. Some problems have to be handled differently to others, but if the person's issues are centred more around not caring about their work, then it’s time to identify how to help focus and direct the person back in the right direction.

When it comes to the disengaged in your company, it’s not a one size fits all solution and can pop up from anyone and anywhere from high to low performers. An excellent place to start with solving it is by creating a culture of open communication. This means acknowledging employee successes, asking for feedback and designing surveys to gather information directly from your people on how they feel, for example, what is going right, wrong, suggestions for improvement and anything in between. By providing this kind of transparency and involvement, you’re more likely to activate that sense of community needed to keep people motivated as well as engaged with each other, their work and the company.

This is the kind of connectivity we provide at Frankli. To see how it can help you and your people stay connected, get in touch with Ronan from the Frankli team today.

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