Weeding out disengaged behaviour

Global employee engagement is on the decline and Australia is not immune. As engagement falls, organisations experience higher turnover rates, higher absenteeism, lower customer satisfaction and of course a decline in productivity.

On a global level, the fall in employee engagement has been linked to the rise in populism and the rise in disruptive technologies (Aon Hewitt). We are certainly a more informed and more cynical world than we were a couple of decades ago. There is greater scepticism facing corporations today, making it more challenging for companies to create and maintain a committed, loyal and dedicated workforce. Add to this the greater ease in communication technologies and the challenge for companies is amplified.

To tackle dis-engagement, we need to examine it on an organisational level.

Interestingly and terrifyingly (for managers), after the first year of employment, employee engagement has been shown to steadily decline. This is strongly linked to whether or not an employee feels appreciated. Every new job has a honeymoon period, and once the ‘honeymoon is over’ it becomes a challenge for managers to keep employees feeling appreciated and engaged. But it definitely is not impossible.

Whilst working to create a work culture where engagement in the norm, it’s important to realise that there is always the likelihood that one, or some employees will become disengaged at some point regardless of your efforts. It’s essential for managers to identify those employees that are disengaged so that they can try reverse the cycle or even better identify it early enough to ‘nip it in the bud’ before it spreads.

Identifying dis-engaged behaviour to stop it in it’s tracks

Employees can display different levels of disengagement. Whilst one employee could just be performing the bare mimimum of work required without any ounce of enthusiasm, another can be actively negative, talking poorly of the organisation and managers and spreading negativity amongst colleagues. This type of dis-engagement is especially insidious as it can have a ripple effect, making others see the negative point of view and becoming dis-engaged as well.

I like to think of engagement as a state of being. If one is not being engaged, they are being something else; being anxious, being negative, being cynical. With the pressure to constantly look for the best in our team members, encourage autonomy and empower workers, a good manager also needs to have an ever-present dis-engagement radar to be able to identify a disengaged state of being and weed it out quickly.

The following 5 behaviours are all red-flag signs your team member is experiencing a decline in engagement that you need to address;

  1. Frequent complaining and objection to proposed work goals
  2. Lack of enthusiasm for his/her job and overall company objectives
  3. Reduced or no participation in group brainstorms and idea generation
  4. Failure to be a team player
  5. Spreading negativity and bad-mouthing managers, employees and the organisation

So what do you do when you have a dis-engaged employee

Assuming the situation is salvable and their dis-engagement has not lead them to set fire to the company… Talk to them. Allow them to be heard. Let them know you value the job they are doing and they are doing it well. Schedule time with them so they can give feedback, share their thoughts and then reciprocate by, where possible implementing some of those ideas or at least sharing them with others to generate more engagement within your team. Hopefully their engagement will begin to increase and then ensure you acknowledge their efforts. Like all humans, we need to feel valued and appreciated in order to positively engage within our environment.

Don’t allow your employees to fall into a state of dis-engagement. It’s vital to keep ALL employees feeling engaged in an environment of collaboration and trust. It’s important to recognise that this is an ongoing process and as managers, one of our key roles to keep productivity levels high.

If you would like to help in tackling dis-engagement in your organisation don’t hesitate to get in touch with Rod today.

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