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When employees are engaged, it’s easy to see the values and vision of their organization shining through their contributions, innovations, and dedication to their team. Clearly, these are very desirable traits to have in an employee. But what does it mean when we see these qualities decreasing in employees who were once so engaged in their work? We start to witness higher rates of employee disengagement.
Disengaged employees can look like daydreamers, reluctance to do more than the minimum, and many more base level symptoms. However, many employees experiencing disengagement at work may start exhibiting behaviours like laziness or apathy, which makes them seem like worse employees. What we need to understand in situations of employee disengagement is that it’s not that the employee is lazy, apathetic, or has lost their drive. These are merely symptoms of a deeper problem causing disengagement at the core of the relationship between employee and employer. By the time many management teams realize the dissonance within their teams, often it can be too late to get disengaged employees back on track and satisfied with their position.
According to Gallup, employee engagement has three main categories; engaged, not engaged, and actively disengaged. While it can be easy to tell which employees are engaged, positively participating in their workplace, and those who are actively disengaged, being avoidant in their interactions, what’s more difficult to detect is the employee who is simply not engaged. This time period within the engagement timeline is critical to identify, as it is possible to bring a great employee back to a strong level of engagement, so long as management is prepared to put a little effort into the relationship with that employee.
Some of the early signs of disengagement are clear: poor attendance, low energy, distraction on the job, not to mention distractions from social media. You may have heard the term “quiet quitting”. This refers to people not going above and beyond their job description. They are simply putting in time doing the least they have to do to get a paycheque. This is a problem, because most jobs – especially those requiring collaboration with coworkers or satisfying customers – require at least some extra effort.
Poor production, lower instances of creativity and curiosity, even silence on the job site when usually there’s lots of conversation and laughter, can indicate withdrawal from the jobs they once loved. Being aware of the environment your people are working in, the people they surround themselves with, and how you influence interactions around you is key to discovering disengagement and shedding light on its cause.
So, we know how to spot employee disengagement when it happens. Now what? How do leaders address this issue of engagement and bring their employees back from this state of apathy?
Leaders, check in with your teams. Identify points of stress and voice your concerns and allow them to voice their concerns and how to address them, through conversations with employees, team leads, individual technicians, and see what’s causing the upset in engagement. Expressing your care around the concerns of your employees shows your dedication to them rather than just the bottom line. The best management strategies in times of disengagement involve listening to employees. Leverage soft skills you’ve already developed, or discover more ways to connect with the people you lead.
Not sure how to do this? Begin with one on one conversations. These conversations give you the opportunity to hear what’s important to the employee, tell them what’s important to the company, and share thoughts on what the company holds in store for them. Opportunities for advancement are huge motivators for employees, but what’s even a stronger motivator for engagement is being heard and understood. One on one conversations offer a great opportunity to listen, really hear, and understand. Check out the one on one conversation template we offer on our website and use it as a kickstarter to your conversation.
Through effective communication, not only can employee disengagement be rectified, it can be significantly lowered in the first place, by allowing frustrations or points of interest to come to the surface quickly and be addressed early on. Creating a human connection between those who lead and those who are being led is essential not only to employee engagement, but the overall success of organizations.