ali khan
Ali Khan
Published On
December 14, 2023
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Signs Of Disengaged Employees

Engaged employees boost morale, productivity, and performance. We all know it's important, but what impacts turn you from being an active and engaged employee one day to an unengaged one the other day.  Keep in mind that a disengaged employee or employees can have significant effects on your company. 

Do you find yourself uninterested in your job activities outside the office and find it hard to finish your daily tasks? Is this disengagement? What does it mean to have disengaged employees? How can you improve? What signs do I watch out for when this happens in my team? What is the negative impact you are feeling?

In today’s article, we will learn more about disengaged employees and how to prevent this from happening in the workplace. 

Signs of disengaged employees

  • ‍Neglecting normal working hours
  • Leaving the team
  • More time off or breaks without good reason
  • Challenges and responsibilities don't appeal to him
  • Having a more negative attitude
  • Getting out of the routine
  • Learning doesn't pique anyone's interest 


These are signs you shouldn’t ignore when you notice them. Arrange a meeting with the employee, and you might want to ask them if everything is okay and what you can do to help. Of course, they might be dealing with a problem they feel they are unable to discuss, so don’t push too hard or you’ll alienate them even more. But by being proactive you might just prevent them from burning themselves out. Consider consulting the leadership team for that.

According to a Gallup study, about 20% of all employees show signs of Disengagement, and 10% are truly disengaged. This means, one out of every five people is not emotionally invested in their work, and might as well be working at a fast food counter.

Another study by Right Management found that when an employee is disengaged, their productivity levels drop by 50%. That’s over half! This means they’re not giving their full potential to the company, and in some cases, their cognitive abilities are impaired.

A disengaged employee is someone who doesn’t care about their job. They might not hate their job, but they don’t necessarily love it either. And it’s more likely that they’re not just unhappy with their company, but also with their manager and/or coworkers.

What can you do?

How do you tell if your employees are disengaged? Some of the signs include:

- They stay late at work but don’t produce anything of value.

- If you ask them for help with a project or task, they don’t respond or take it seriously.

- They never seem to have any questions during a meeting or when you address them individually.

- You see that they’re always looking at the clock during lunchtime or taking longer breaks than expected.

- They have trouble getting into the holiday spirit (which could signify dissatisfaction).

- They ignore feedback on how to improve.

- They talk negatively about the company (and even their boss) outside the office. Some people tend to vent out on social media too!

If you see any of these signs in your employees, then talk to them and get to the bottom of the issue before it becomes a problem that affects your company. Be as transparent as possible as you try to build a connection between both parties to prevent any misunderstandings that may come up later on.

Speaking of transparency…

How to Know Your Employees Are Engaged

If your employees are engaged, you will notice the difference immediately! Some of the signs that show engagement include:

- They understand and execute project goals without being asked repeatedly.

- When asked for help on a project or task, they respond immediately and willingly.

- You see that they’re always listening during meetings and during direct interactions with you.

- They have no problem getting into the holiday spirit! In fact, they even go above and beyond to make sure they get in the spirit!

- They actively provide feedback on how to improve based on feedback they receive themselves. It can be constructive criticism too!

A good example would be if there is something wrong with your idea, instead of saying “it sucks” or “it sucks big time”, provide an alternative solution as well! You would be helping them apply what you taught them in class! Win-win for everyone!- You don’t see them venting about the company or their boss (outside the office). If anything, others around them can see the positive energy radiating from them (silently!) when it comes time for them to talk about their job experiences! It sometimes happens that your employees feel like talking about their job is boring and tedious! But when they know there are others who would listen to what they have to say, they become more engaged in the conversation and start enjoying it more!

Especially if it involves sharing how great their job is like yours! 🙂 People love spreading positivity through word-of-mouth marketing! It’s part of human nature! So give your employees a chance to do that with their friends and family! What better opportunity than when they get home after work right?! The results can effectively raise productivity levels even more in your company! See what I mean?

People love spreading positivity through word-of-mouth marketing! It’s part of human nature! So give your employees a chance to do that with their friends and family! What better opportunity than when they get home after work right?! The results can effectively raise productivity levels even more in your company!

Seven habits of highly disengaged employees

We already mentioned some signs to watch out for which directly impact employees' daily habits within the workplace. Some habits can be very toxic within the workplace and affect other employees. Employee engagement is very important.

  • Disengaged employees tend to have negative opinions about their leaders or managers. 
  • Disengaged employees won't appreciate it no matter what managers initiate to improve workplace productivity. 
  • They always want to leave early and complain about the long hours of work within the office. 
  • They insist on working from home no matter what. This does not mean that freelancers or remote workers are disengaged; we are talking here about the employees who have signs that they will avoid work and find something less productive to do during their working hours. 
  • A strong belief that everyone they work with is not good enough or incompetent. They are very opinionated about their colleagues and constantly complain about them. 
  • They take excessive time to finish their daily tasks and always leave something for the following week. 
  • Disengaged employees refuse to believe they are wrong or lack knowledge in anything. 

When this happens, it can be challenging for the workflow to continue smoothly and the business to grow as it should. If you don’t want to let such employees go for whatever reason, we have compiled various methods for motivating disengaged employees. Employee engagement surveys are a good option to that. Consider acknowledging the fact that offering flexibility in the workplace is important, everybody nowadays wants work-life balance. This will encourage positive behavior, career growth and will definitely add up to your company values. All the team members should feel heard within the workplace. Even the ones that might seem out of sight, make sure to re engage them, focus on personal development plan for those who need it. By paying attention you will boost the quality work.

Motivating disengaged employees

If an employee doesn’t like what they do, they will be disengaged and unmotivated. To engage disengaged employees, focus on encouraging them to do what they love and what they are good at. Understand the real reasons why they are disengaged Many people become disengaged because of feeling unappreciated or undervalued in their work environment. This leads them to draw conclusions about the organization as a whole and have a negative mindset toward their job. Being mindful of these underlying issues will help you strategize how to motivate your employees.

Reach out to them

If you feel that your team members are becoming disengaged, make sure that you reach out to them. Being a good listener and showing you care about them will go a long way in motivating them to stay engaged. Helping them with their career paths or giving them recognition for their efforts will also help ease any dissatisfaction.

Align their personal, job, and organizational goals

To be engaged, your team members need to see the connection between their personal goals, the goals of the company, and the goals of their daily tasks. Then, they need to be given incentives to complete these tasks. You can easily do this by discussing who they might need to work together with or what they could use to complete the task at hand.

Make sure that every employee knows their unique strengths and values as an individual within the organization. Then, make sure that your employees understand how each role contributes to the overall success of the organization and how their unique abilities could influence this success.

Make time for your people

When your team members are struggling at work, they may feel depressed or anxious regarding the future of their jobs. Take time to listen to them and understand the challenges that they are facing at work or in their personal lives so that you can help them solve these problems together as a team.

Being there for them is important because it shows that you care about them as an individual and that you want to help them achieve their goals and improve their performance at work.

Use data for improvements

If your team members are becoming disengaged due to how their supervisors interact with them, consider using data from performance management software for insights into how you can improve your management skills.

Use tools such as feedback request software or employee engagement apps that allow you to easily send feedback requests or survey questions in order to gather insight regarding how you can improve your management skills and make sure that your employees feel like they are being heard.

When having a new job for everyone is exiting but after a while some people get used to it and end up being disengaged. Working with disengaged employees is challenging, especially if you are in charge of their well-being. So here, we found some key elements to focus on when motivating disengaged employees. The career goals should be an ongoing circle. Which will avoid people who give the bare minimum. Offer new positions to older employees constantly this will encourage them to go the extra mile within their workplace.

Free Man Wearing Purple Button-up Top Stock Photo

Voice out your expectations in a clear and kind way

Tell them in detail what they need to accomplish and require goals and daily plans from them. Then, help them build these plans so they don’t feel all the pressure on themselves. 

Honestly value their effort.

Maybe the team member feels like they put in a lot of effort but are shown no appreciation in return. If that’s the case, it’s easy to fall into the mindset of “why even bother”. That is why managers should work closely with their employers and value, thank, and congratulate them on their small but concrete wins. 

Make sure the manager is treating everyone equally.

Professionalism should be a top priority. Their approach to the employees should be equal and appropriate. No employee can feel unheard or undervalued. Keep weekly meetings, and host round-table idea discussions. The culture of awareness and being heard matters a lot within the workplace. 

Create a culture of awareness

To be engaged, you need to feel like you are heard and valued. Have a culture that respects DEI, implements their employees' ideas, and pays attention to their feedback. After the roundtable ideas discussion, review all of them and give feedback to employees if their ideas might have a go or not. Make sure when giving feedback you don’t disparage their ideas but review them honestly, constructively, and kindly.

Improve your feedback culture

It is essential to create a healthy feedback culture, and anonymous feedback has proven to be helpful. Anonymity makes it easier for employees to freely share their thoughts and ideas without worrying if someone might take them personally or get offended by them. Learn more about anonymous feedback

Engaged vs. disengaged employees

  • Engaged employees 

Active, resourceful, clever, and innovative traits typically characterize motivated workers. They are more than eager to go above and beyond their comfort zones and use their initiative to complete any assignment. In addition, highly engaged employees are quick and enthusiastic learners, not hesitant to think outside the box.

  • Disengaged employees 

On the other hand, a leader must push disengaged employees hard to produce results because they are unhappy. They waste time when they should be working and do not find any challenge or enthusiasm in their jobs. For disengaged workers to like what they do and perform to the best of their abilities, they need to be given a chance to take on stimulating initiatives.

This wraps all about our view of disengaged employees. Let us know what you think about this article, and feel free to share your story related to the topic. 

Signs Of Disengaged Employees Conclusion

You know when your employees are engaged, and you know when they’re not. They have a consistent, positive attitude that makes them approachable, and they try to help others with the tasks that are given to them. What is a disengaged employee like? They don’t share ideas in the team nor give constructive feedback on work. They don’t always try as hard as everyone else to get their work done, and maybe they even try to avoid work. As a manager, you can help your team members be engaged by being transparent about the company's direction, having a strong culture, and providing clear feedback.

Free Woman in Black Suit Stock Photo

Disengaged employees are all around us. Unless you’re in HR, you might wonder how to find these disengaged employees. Anonymous feedback will help you with that. These employees need to be engaged again to benefit the company and themselves. This can be accomplished through coaching and encouraging managers, creating an environment where everyone can talk about problems without fear of being penalized, and providing clear performance objectives.

Benefits of engaging back the disengaged employees

The engagement of employees is crucial for the growth and progress of an organization. There are numerous benefits of engaged employees which makes it imperative to act in order to retain them at work.

- Engaged employees are more productive and deliver high-quality work.

- They have a positive outlook and approach towards the organization and their work.

- Their overall satisfaction levels are higher which results in a positive experience of working at your organization.

- They effectively carry out their responsibilities in a way that the organization can benefit from their knowledge, ideas and creativity.

- The attrition levels are low in an organization that values the engagement of employees.

Note that engaged employees do not just make a workplace better, but also make the work environment more friendly and friendlier for fellow colleagues, and also help in establishing a company’s reputation among peers and other organizations.

Check out our blog for more.

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Ali is a co-founder of Wrenly known for his innovative thinking and exceptional drive to create value for every Wrenly customer. His dedication, mentorship, and leadership skills have not only shaped various careers but have also made him an invaluable asset to the Wrenly team.

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