Productivity is high on current business agendas, both at a national-level and for individual business leaders as ONS figures continue to show a fall in the output per hour. In order to attain good financial results, customer satisfaction and high output, employee engagement needs to be a priority. We know that businesses are still harbouring retention concerns industry-wide, with skilled talent proving harder to attract, engage and retain.
Learning how to spot a disengaged employee and understanding what can be done to inspire re-engagement is a key factor in reaching maximum productivity company-wide, as well as achieving increased employee retention.
What causes employees to become disengaged?
As our recent report has shown, the main causes of employee disengagement are boredom and frustration (35%), followed by a poor work-life balance (31%) and stagnant career prospects (30%).
To put the issue of boredom into perspective, UK managers have identified that their employees spend an estimated 5.3 hours a week bored at work. A number that increases significantly within large companies (7.1 hours) and is higher than average in London and the South East (6.4 hours).
Low engagement and boredom aren’t just down to quality of work though. Inefficient internal processes could also be a contributing factor. One in three (30%) managers have stated that there are too many meetings during the working day, many of which are poorly executed.
In light of the ongoing skills shortage, stagnation becomes a key issue. Managers said that they believe roles are not interesting enough and that staff often don’t feel challenged (32%) or become disheartened by the lack of diversity that their role offers them (30%).
Signs of a disengaged employee can manifest in the following ways:
- Not hitting targets: Poor performance and consistently missing targets are clear indicators that your employee is not invested in the growth of the business or their own career within the company.
- No initiative: Your employee has little to contribute at team meetings and doesn’t seem willing to generate new ideas or share independent learnings.
- Unhealthy activities: Frequent cigarette breaks, long lunches, and multiple kitchen and bathroom trips are all signs of someone who doesn’t want to be in the office anymore.
- Bad attitude: This includes complaining, not wanting to help others, being anti-social at work and displaying an unwillingness to get involved in company activities.
How to re-engage a disengaged employee
A common misconception is that giving employees a higher salary will help to engage them again, but this is often not the case. Research has shown that employees are 3.2 times more likely to be happy at work when they’re given meaningful, challenging tasks that they find satisfying.
You can reverse employee disengagement by introducing several simple processes and practices at work and within the employee-manager relationship.
- Role development via upskilling and employee training: What are your employee’s long-term career goals? If they feel like you’re willing to help them work towards it, you might find that investment levels go up. Ask them which skills they feel they’d like to improve and address these within the employee’s learning and development plan.
- Regular progress meetings: Touching base regularly after goals have been set will provide tangible achievements to keep things feeling diverse and challenging.
- Give them work ownership: Research has shown that employees who feel free at work are 2.7 times more likely to be happy. Over half also said that they don’t have enough opportunities to be creative (58%). Allowing employees to become more involved in their own careers gives them the personal investment they’ll need to re-engage with the company they work for.
- Show them they are valued: Small signs of appreciation can go a long way in the eyes of a disengaged employee as those employees who feel supported are 67% more engaged than those that felt undervalued.
Understanding how to identify disengaged employees and acting on those observations will help companies attracting and retaining employees, and get the most out of their workforce to overcome the current productivity slump.
About the author: Phil Sheridan is the managing director for Robert Half International’s UK operations where he is responsible for leading the organisation’s strategy and direction across more than 20 office locations.