How to Spot Employee Disengagement and Why It Matters

Industry Trends

May 26, 2022

Though the pandemic is coming to an end, the affects are still being felt throughout the labor markets worldwide. This March, 4.54 million people quit their jobs in the U.S, according the U.S department of Labor. These numbers are indicative of what has been coined “The Great Resignation”. Since the start of the pandemic, record high numbers of employees across the globe have been leaving their jobs to find new work.

With employees being enticed by ample choice, it’s more important than ever to retain your staff. This is placing an emphasis on the importance of maintaining engaged employees and identifying when they become disengaged. Let’s look at the different levels of employee engagement and dive into the warning signs to look for if your employees are becoming disengaged.

What is Employee Disengagement?

According to Gallup, employee disengagement comes in three different stages: engaged, not-engaged and actively disengaged.

Engaged employees are motivated, enthusiastic and have high performance in their jobs. According to Gallup, not-engaged employees are “psychologically unattached” to their work, meaning they are being fuelled by duty rather than passion. An employee who is “not engaged” will complete their assignments but will shy away from taking on more responsibility or offering new ideas.

Actively-not engaged employees aren’t just lacking passion, they are resentful towards their workplace. These employees may be looking for other work in their spare time and may speak negatively about their team, managers and work experience.

Employee disengagement may look different for everyone and could be caused by a variety of different factors, so it is important to be able to recognize disengagement at all stages.

Sometimes things happen beyond an organization’s control that can be affecting an employee. Challenges in their personal lives, like losing a loved one or going through a divorce, may affect an employee’s engagement levels. In these circumstances, there isn’t much an employer can do to eliminate the progression of disengagement. But keeping open lines of communication with the employee so they feel comfortable approaching management when they are having issues can help ease the tensions at this personal level of disengagement.

Aside from unpredictable external circumstance, there are many preventative steps employers can take to ensure their employees are engaged and passionate about their work and the organization.

So, what does employee disengagement look like?


Examples of Employee Disengagement


1. Poor Work Quality

If an employee’s work has taken a noticeable turn in quality or quantity, it may be that they are no longer concerned about meeting high standards. If they are disengaged, they may not strive to put in the same productivity levels and achieve the same results as they used too before they became disengaged.


2. Ignoring normal working times

When employees are disengaged, they may start taking excessive breaks, showing up late and leaving early or missing work altogether. No longer caring about normal working times shows an employee may no longer care about following the rules and respecting the authority of the management team. Employees who are consistently absent may be out looking for other work or showing that they would rather be elsewhere.


3. Unenthusiastic about their work

An engaged employee will push themselves to do their best and align themselves with their organization’s goals. When an employee is disengaged, they may no longer be interested in new challenges and going beyond the basic requirements of their job. This may be shown in various ways such as not participating in team discussions or activities or passing up taking on new responsibilities. Employees who are no longer asking questions and generating inspiration for their peers may no longer feel a passion for the success of their work and the organization.


4. Poor Attitude

If an employee is being overly sarcastic, or has an outwardly negatively opinion about the organization, this is indicative of an employee becoming disengaged. A poor attitude can be shown in a variety of ways like constant bickering and picking arguments with team members or management and finding faults in anything from their peers, management and even the facilities or work environment.


Employee disengagement often manifests as behavioural issues in the workplace. This can negatively impact the working culture of your organization and can rub off on other employees causing a chain reaction of employee disengagement. On the other hand, engaged employees produce a higher quality of work and can help to uplift the organization. Employee engagement can therefore be essential to the overall success of your organization and is something every HR department should strive to achieve.

In an upcoming blog post, we will be talking to a member of the Sodales HR team to discuss the value of employee engagement, and how to ensure your employees remain engaged.

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