How to Tell Your Employees Lack Engagement at Work

Every leader dreads hearing that despite hiring the “right” people and performing the most in-depth training, their employees are dead on arrival: lacking engagement altogether. All signs point to the depressing fact that 2/3 of employees are “not engaged” at work. At face-level your employees may seem interested and engaged, so how do you tell when your employees are not truly engaged?

Despite the best efforts of companies and HR departments everywhere who are spending dollars and efforts to engage employees, the needle does not move for most organizations.  Why not?  The simple fact is that many organizations don’t know how to keep a pulse on employee engagement, much less understand how to fix the problem.

How do you tell when your employees lack engagement? Here are some red flags that can be easy to overlook:

  1. They tell you!

If you have reached this level of trust with your employees, and you actively work to keep a frequent pulse on how things are going, they will tell you when they are feeling uninspired or demotivated. Shocking, we know.

Utilize the opportunity to dig deep to the root of the disengagement and devise a plan for how to spark their interest at work again.

  1. They seem increasingly frustrated.

People, like rubber bands, snap when pulled too much. You may not even realize that they have reached that point, but the last thing you want is for the frustrations to continue piling up until they reach monumental heights.

If you notice an employee who is seemingly more frustrated than normal, there’s a good chance that they are lacking engagement at work.

  1. They talk poorly about the company or others at work.

People who see more bad than good are jaded or agitated. An honest, productive conversation about things that frustrate us at work (that we can control or influence) is in order with solutions.

  1. They go silent.

This stage is worse than voiced or visible frustration.  When employees are more quiet than what is their usual, this could be a sign that they have given up on giving feedback because they don’t trust that it is being heard and considered.

“Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.”   ― Andy Stanley

  1. They become less productive.

Any drop in productivity is worth a conversation about what is going on and why. Approach this conversation with honesty, empathy and grace.  Understand that only leaders who have established trust with their people can establish any meaning from this conversation.

  1. Decrease in quality of work.

When quality of work goes down, it is usually a sign that they are under the pressure of a workload that is too high, or that the employee simply doesn’t care as much as they used to.

  1. Increased time spent doing things other than their actual job.

Whether it is absenteeism, less time dedicated to work, time at the water cooler, or time spent doing other people’s jobs, we see it all the time – employees escaping their work!  Why?  Probably because they dread their actual job…

The biggest contributor to disengagement, and one that cannot be fixed by any engagement efforts is asking people to spend too much time doing things they simply do not want to do, are not wired to do — and ultimately it sucks the life out of them!

Don’t fret. There is a science to this!

There are thousands of studies about the science behind who people are and what jobs they should actually do.  Despite all this science, some leaders still ignore the data, and every year they wonder why they spent thousands or millions of dollars on employee engagement, while 2/3 of their employees still hate coming to work on Monday.

Using a validated assessment tool, like the Predictive Index, is the single most impactful way to ensure that you are avoiding disengagement by not setting your people up to fail or managing them in a way that de-motivates them.

It’s time to put science behind your purpose.

Hire better.  Inspire greatness. Make work happier for your people.

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