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10 Things Engaged and Disengaged Employees Say Differently

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Spotting disengaged employees isn’t as easy at it seems. Many times unhappy employees hide or give passive-aggressive hints about their discontent. More rare are employees that are straightforward and assertive in voicing their unhappiness with their jobs. That’s why we’ve written in the past about signs an employee is about to quit – disengagement is rarely obvious. In order to help you spot disengagement employee symptoms before things get so dire, here are ways that disengaged employees communicate differently from their counterparts.

1. “That’s not my job.”

When employees are unwilling to take on tasks or increase their responsibility, they tend to push them off on others. Instead, engaged employees look to become more important within their organization, and are more likely to say, “Sure, I’ll do it!” when things outside their usual sphere need to be done.

2. “No, I don’t have any questions.”

During all meetings, employees are given the opportunity to ask questions. Keep an eye out for employees that have shut down and never ask questions anymore. Engaged employees are curious enough to ask question when they need guidance.

3. “Sorry I’m late again.”

Disengaged employees are chronically late and miss deadlines. If you start to see a pattern of tardiness with an employee, it’s best to address sooner rather than later. Letting it go only sets a bad example for your timely, engaged employees.

4. “We’ll never reach that goal.”

Optimistic employees are willing to go the extra mile to reach immodest goals. It’s rather hard to be optimistic if you’re not engaged with your co-workers.

5. Actively Disengaged Employees: “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 long lengths to make sure customers walk away happy.

6. “I 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.

7. “Ask Steven, 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 one for the team and figure out what went wrong, instead of looking for scapegoats.

8. “I need a mental health day.”

When an employee takes a sick day because they cannot face the next day at work, clearly something is wrong. While this is rarely voiced, disengaged employees tend to have many “dentist appointments” or other such reasons for taking random days off. On the other hand, engaged employees are much more likely to bring a problem to their manager to figure out a solution, rather than avoid it.

9. “I’ll just do it myself.”

A company with a healthy culture prides itself on using teamwork to achieve ambitious goals. Disengaged employees often would rather work alone, feeling alienated from their co-workers.

10. Disengaged Employees Symptoms: “Mary hasn’t been herself, I heard she’s going through a divorce.”

When employees are distracted, they can often resort to gossip and other subjects that have nothing to do with their work. Because engaged employees are focused on the task at hand, they simply don’t have the time or energy for rumors or gossip.

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 losing them for good and prevent you workplace from being poisoned with negativity.

Ready to engage your workforce? Follow our 15 Best Practices for Employee Engagement by downloading our ebook now.

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