How to re-engage disengaged employees

Alan Price – CEO at BrightHR

May 17 2016

Your business shouldn’t underestimate the impact of staff members losing interest in their roles. It has the potential to damage your productivity and even lead to resignations.

To avoid it, you can learn about this topic in our guide. You can also talk to us on our unlimited 24-hour HR advice line for immediate guidance.

What is employee disengagement?

It involves staff members who display a lack of commitment to their role as they feel disconnected or disengaged from it—or your organisation.

Many disengaged employees don’t enter the workforce with a negative mind-set but, somewhere along the way they start to become uninterested in their job and your business.

The effects of employee disengagement

It’s important you’re aware of how to deal with this issue at an early stage before it reaches a destructive level.

You’ll notice a number of different effects of employee disengagement. For example, an employee who’s unhappy at work is less likely to undertake tasks to the best of their ability, causing issues in overall company output and potentially affecting its external reputation.

Actively disengaged employees can even go out of their way to cause issues for the company, such as deliberately refusing to do tasks or encouraging their colleagues to focus on the negative aspects of their roles.

Not only can this cause an issue with employee morale overall, it can also lead to poor retention rates.

How to deal with disengaged employees

Once you determine this is an issue you should identify disengaged employees and do something about it.

The first thing you should do is establish the causes of employee disengagement. Common examples include:

  • Poor management.
  • No career progression.
  • Lack of salary reviews.
  • No recognition for contributions.
  • A workload that’s excessive.
  • Lack of work flexibility.
  • Poor work-life balance.
  • Low pay.

If faced with one employee who is showing issues in their performance, it’s advisable to try talking to them to understand if they’re having any difficulties at work. Or whether they feel they need further support in undertaking their role.

Managing poor performance at work is an essential part of business life—you can view it as an opportunity to advance your workforce’s skill set.

For example, it could be they’re having difficulties with particular tasks and may require more training. Or they may have concerns about the amount of work they have, yet feel you’re not taking their feedback seriously.

Maybe the employee is eager for more opportunities for progression but doesn’t feel the company will provide this for them, meaning it may be necessary to implement training and coaching disengaged employees. This approach should provide:

  • Regular 1-1s and conversations.
  • Skills assessments.
  • Career assessments and goals.

If the situation has already progressed to the resignation of the employee, it’s important to hold an exit interview with them in order to discuss their reasons for leaving, and take on-board the comments they make.

But you can also try other approaches to make sure you’re actively engaging with your staff members. You should look to:

  • Set achievable goals.
  • Avoid scorecards that monitor employees—instead, use review meetings to discover what the employee thinks.
  • Offer more flexible working hours to provide a better work-life balance.
  • Promote a business culture of opportunity to help employees advance their careers.
  • Encourage problem-solving amongst colleagues.
  • Listen to employee feedback.

Encourage a policy of openness

When considering how to re-engage disengaged employees it’s crucial you maintain strong levels of communication between themselves and the workforce.

Addressing engagement should never be a one-time occurrence, but a continuous objective you must aim to tackle.  

Ultimately, employees should be able to feel they can make suggestions for how their working environment can be improved and, crucially, that their comments will be taken into account.

You can achieve this by distributing regular emails and using employee engagement surveys. In these, staff can provide anonymous feedback or suggestions, or placing a comment box in an accessible location for all staff.

Through those approaches, you can take on board comments and make key changes to the working day. For example, it may be as simple as making key changes to how you distribute workloads.  

Alternatively, it may be necessary to consider if any team leaders need additional training in more appropriate ways of managing staff.

It’s important to remember engagement works both ways. To engage employees, you must also engage with your business and employees.

Need our help?

If you’re looking for more tips on how to connect with your employees, call us for expert guidance: 0800 028 2420.

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