Employee engagement affects all areas of a company’s operations, from productivity to customer service and employee turnover.
Disengaged employees can be costly. According to Forbes, disengaged employees have:
- 37% higher absenteeism
- 18% lower productivity
- 15% lower profitability
Identifying signs that a team member is disengaged can help HR managers, supervisors, and colleagues employ strategies that increase employee engagement.
What is Employee Engagement?
Before we look at some common warning signs for disengaged employees, let’s go over what employee engagement means.
Employee engagement describes the extent to which employees enjoy their job and are committed to benefitting their employer. Disengaged employees:
- Care less about the company they work for
- Tend to only put in minimum effort to earn their paycheck
Have you heard the following phrases or observed these behaviors from an employee? If so, it may be a sign they aren’t engaged at work.
1. “I Prefer to Work Alone”
While it’s true that some employees prefer to work independently, there is always a need for collaboration and teamwork in order to get company-wide goals accomplished. If your employees are working on their own exclusively, they probably don’t feel like they’re part of the team.
2. “I don’t have any questions.”
It’s true that some employees are more shy and less talkative than others. But employees who never ask questions may feel like they’re just taking marching orders and completing tasks.
Pro Tip: If your team isn’t keen on asking questions, it may be because they don’t have a convenient or anonymous way to do so. Platforms like Beekeeper allow companies to create quick surveys that employees can fill out on their mobile devices.
4. “It’s Not My Job”
In some cases, saying “it’s not my job” can be a way for an employee to state their boundaries if they feel overwhelmed by an unfair amount of responsibility. But being an active and engaged employee often requires employees to step outside their usual duties.
5. “I’ll get it done later.”
Disengaged colleagues may look for distractions instead of doing work, from scrolling on social media or missing meetings. On the other hand, engaged employees show up fully focused and ready to accomplish their daily tasks.
6. “Sorry I’m late again.”
Being late and missing deadlines on a regular basis may be a sign that an employee is disengaged. If you start to see a pattern of tardiness with an employee, it’s best to address it sooner rather than later. Letting it go may cause them to take other policies less seriously and may set a bad example for their more timely and engaged colleagues.
7. “I can’t stand this customer.”
Great customer service is one of the hallmarks of all service-oriented companies. Employees that are actively engaged with the company they work for are willing to go to great lengths to make sure customers walk away happy.
8. “It doesn’t matter to me.”
If an employee doesn’t feel connected to the goals or mission of the company they work for, they’re going to be ambivalent about decisions they and their co-workers make. Rarely will you see a happy employee not give their input when asked.
9. “Ask X, that’s not my fault.”
Blaming others is a very common sign of an unhappy employee. The sign of a healthy company culture is when employees take ownership and figure out what went wrong instead of looking for scapegoats.
10. “We’ll never reach that goal.”
Optimistic and engaged employees are willing to go the extra mile, even if the targets they’re given seem hard to reach. Employees may voice valid concerns about the practicality of a strategy. But defaulting to skepticism and negativity signals that the employee isn’t willing to put in the effort to be actively engaged in their position.
Recognizing the difference in behavior between engaged and disengaged employees is essential for maintaining a positive company culture. By addressing issues before they turn into bigger problems, you can save employees before you lose them for good and prevent a toxic work environment.