Disengaged Employees: Tips On How To Identify And Deal With Workplace Disengagement

Jul 19, 2017 | 0 comments

Disengaged employees are bad for business. In fact, it’s estimated that disengaged employees are costing up to $550 billion every year in the US alone in a combination of increased rates of absenteeism and low productivity. By comparison, those companies that have high levels of engaged employees have 22 percent higher profitability than their less engaged counterparts and 10 percent higher customer satisfaction ratings. The statistics speak for themselves. What’s more, disengaged employees tend to have a toxic effect on other team members, dragging down team morale overall. And so if you haven’t considered the issue of disengagement in your organization, then now is the time to do so before it grabs hold in your workplace. In this post, we share some tips on how to identify and reenergize disengaged employees.

How To Identify Disengaged Employees

Everyone has had experience of working with a disengaged colleague at some point. You know, it’s that guy who never really joins in and if they do it’s only to complain or make a negative comment. While some disengaged employees can be easy to spot, often the clues are more subtle. And so here are some of the telltale signs to look out for.

  • Complaining nature: you know the score, nothing is ever good enough or quite right for this staff member and they are very vocal in expressing that opinion to anyone willing to listen.
  • Lots of excuses: whether it’s to explain a late arrival into work or a failure to meet a deadline, this employee has an excuse for everything and nothing is ever their fault.
  • disengaged employeesFailing to be part of the team: the disengaged employee never seems to be a full member of the team and often distances themselves. This can manifest itself in an unwillingness to help colleagues, failure to attend team outings or social events and a tendency to work independently.
  • Lack of enthusiasm: employees that are no longer engaged in the workplace often tend to have a ‘been there, done that’ attitude. They’ve seen it all before and have a singular lack of enthusiasm for any new project or idea.
  • Lack of initiative: closely related to an unenthusiastic outlook is a lack of initiative. The disengaged employee never makes a helpful suggestion or offers an insight. Instead, they have to be told what to do all the time and even then they’ll just do the bare minimum.
  • No desire for growth: with a disengaged employee the conversation on professional development during the performance review meeting is usually very brief! That’s because this employee is not interested in growing and developing their professional skills or role within the company.

In addition, and perhaps surprisingly, the research suggests that it’s often the longest serving members of the team that are disengaged. The honeymoon period of starting a new job when everything is fresh and exciting is long since over for these employees. But often they stay on in the job or organization longer than perhaps they should do because of a lack of motivation or a sense of comfort. It’s important to watch out that the long-standing members of your team haven’t inadvertently slipped over to the dark side of disengagement.

So now that we know which employees are disengaged, let’s turn our attention to how to reenergize them so that disengagement doesn’t infect the rest of your workforce.

Ways To Reenergize The Disengaged

Lack of recognition, poor internal communications and a sense of isolation are often the key gripes for disengaged employees so let’s look at each of these in turn, and with the help of the company intranet, we suggest ways to overcome them.

Recognize And Reward Great Work

Recognizing and rewarding your employees goes beyond saying thank you more often or developing employee recognition schemes – important though they are. In fact, for lots of workers celebrating the achievements of the employee of the month or top sales team on the company intranet news feed is both engaging and motivating.

However, for the majority of employees it isn’t enough and what’s required is something of a culture change so that your organization is really valuing its employees. And this could be demonstrated in a comprehensive employee wellness program or a wide-ranging employee benefits package. The office intranet is the perfect platform for promoting these initiatives.

Promoting employee wellness makes sense on a number of levels, not least because healthier employees are more productive ones. An employee wellness portal on the intranet also sends a clear message to the workforce that staff are important to the organization and that their well-being really matters. The wellness portal can take the form of an extensive digital health platform with information on work-related safety and health or ergonomics. It could also be used to connect employees looking for lunch-time walking or running partners. And it could encourage healthy behaviors with, for example, a weekly walking mission in which staff who record taking the most steps during breaks over the course of a week are given a reward. The reward doesn’t have to be anything too big either – a free lunch from the local deli is often all it takes. The rewards though in terms of providing a platform to engage with staff are potentially much greater than the expenditure involved.

The same applies to an employee benefits package, which could include things like flexible working arrangements and opportunities to work from home for a better work life balance, as well as more traditional benefits such as gym membership, health insurance or performance bonuses. The intranet is the perfect platform to publicize what’s on offer and using a self-service approach, employees can apply online for a particular benefit, which is then automatically routed by the intranet to the relevant manager for action.

Improved Internal Communications

Disengaged employees often fail to see the big picture – they feel a sense of disconnection from the organization’s mission and their part in it. And poor internal communications is often at the heart of this failure. Clearly communicate to employees the company’s overall mission through the intranet and demonstrate how their daily work contributes to the organizational mission.

What’s more, use the intranet to help change the company culture to be more inclusive and people orientated. News feeds with an option for staff to post comments, newsletters, blogs and forums are great tools for generating two-way conversations with staff members. And why not use the intranet to ask employees for feedback and insights through quizzes and surveys? With an intranet, the possibilities are great and the rewards in terms of a more engaged workforce are even greater.

Connecting With Others

The disengaged employee is often somewhat isolated and so finding ways for them to reconnect with colleagues is an important step in the reenergizing process. The intranet can help to connect employees across your company, including any remote workers or telecommuters. The intranet’s staff directory complete with photos, biographical information and areas of expertise allows employees to make connections across the company.

And so if a staff member is looking for some advice on a technical issue, then they can identify an internal expert using the staff directory.

Many companies utilize the intranet’s social features to connect employees with follow-me functionality, individual activity walls and messaging. Others prefer to use the intranet’s collaboration tools to develop that sense of connection.


It’s quite simple really – disengaged employees could be costing your company many thousands of dollars every year. And they could be helping to spread a potentially toxic virus throughout your business. Use the company intranet to ensure you stay on top of the issue. Contact us today at MyHub for a free demonstration or 14-day trial period.

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