POPin Blog

Spotting the Red Flags of Employee Disengagement

When most people start a new job at a new company, they are excited to dig in and learn everything possible from their managers and colleagues. At some point, however, certain employees lose interest and become disengaged. In fact, only 33% of employees are engaged in their jobs, compared to 49% who are not engaged and 18% who are actively disengaged, according to data compiled by payroll provider ADP. This lack of workforce engagement poses a serious management dilemma that saps staff morale and hurts productivity. Cumulatively, it can have a negative impact on the bottom line – companies lose $2,246 per disengaged employee annually. Why is this problem so widespread, and what can managers do about it? Actually, employees have many valid reasons to pull back from workplace engagement and become withdrawn in their jobs. Managers should be aware of subtle changes in staff behaviors that may signal the onset of disengagement. Employee withdrawal is demonstrated by many forms of negative engagement, such as when formerly enthusiastic employees become lukewarm about new projects, or when they suddenly have no new ideas to offer. They may stop participating in team meetings or stay behind during office gatherings, or they might call in sick more often. Negative engagement is also manifested by oppositional or defiant behaviors, such as when an employee consistently criticizes colleagues or undermines managers. People who are regularly argumentative might be harboring deeper resentments, such as dissatisfaction with their jobs or a lack of opportunities to advance. Some folks do not find their job roles to be especially meaningful or rewarding. Others become apathetic because they feel underappreciated. Another source of disengagement stems from the frustration of being micromanaged. All of these issues can fester undetected by managers who do not remain alert to the early signs of negative engagement. That’s why leaders should implement systems to gauge employee sentiments and listen closely to people’s viewpoints. Crowdsourcing platforms can provide an excellent vehicle to align and engage team members. When someone starts drifting into disengagement, clear forms of communication are needed to identify the root causes and propose workable solutions. Stay on the lookout for the red flags of employee disengagement before people lose interest at work and start withdrawing from active participation.

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