Actively engaged employees are the lifeblood of successful companies. In fact, studies have suggested that companies with highly engaged employees outperform companies with disengaged employees by as much as 200%.
Unfortunately, employee engagement in general, has taken a hit during recent years, with only four in 10 employees who are engaged in their work, according to a Towers Watson Global Workforce Study. The study also found that only 42% of employees think their companies do a good job at retaining highly qualified workers, and 26% of employees say they are likely to leave for new opportunities within the next two years.
Early intervention is the key to reengaging wayward employees before they jump ship altogether. Here are a few early warning signs that high performers may have started down the path toward disengagement.
Disengaged employees would rather be anywhere other than work. If you notice a usually punctual employee entering into a pattern of excessive absenteeism—taking more and more days off, coming in late, leaving early—it could be a sign that the employee is disengaging.
Withdrawn during meetings and discussions
Actively engaged employees are a driving force in team meetings and discussions. From sharing ideas to asking for more information, they take ownership of their role and its impact on driving success. Disengaged employees, on the other hand, make little effort to hide the fact that their minds have drifted and will seem withdrawn and more interested in what’s going on in their Facebook feed than in the meeting.
Lack of participation in optional events
From holiday parties to company-sponsored family events, many companies provide a variety of opportunities for employees to mingle and get to know each other outside of work. Actively engaged employees relish such opportunities to better understand their co-workers and what makes them tick. The disengaged, however, don’t want to spend any more of their time on work-related activities than they absolutely have to.
Satisfied with “good enough”
Giving 110% is modus operandi for the actively engaged. However, employees who have lost their motivation to excel, will be satisfied with simply good enough. Flying just far enough below the radar to keep their waning performance from being noticed, disengaged employees are much less likely to go out of their way to deliver more than what’s expected.
Shows no interest in development or advancement opportunities
One of the best ways to keep top talent engaged is to provide opportunities for growth and development. Engaged employees thrive off forward momentum, always on the lookout for the next rung in the ladder to climb. Disengaged employees, however, show little interest in building toward something bigger within the company. They may start viewing their jobs simply as a series of tasks to check off a list, instead of how each project can be leveraged to build toward advancing to something bigger.
These are just a few red flags that could mean an employee is checking out. However, they are by no means definitive. If you feel like a once highly productive employee is disengaging, the best first step is to open the lines of communication. Talk to the employee and try to discover where their discontentment is coming from and allow them the opportunity to voice their concerns. Once you understand the factors affecting their performance and productivity, you’ll be better equipped to take the next step toward helping them reengage.
What are some other early warning signs of disengagement? How do you approach leading a disengaged employee? Let us know in the comments section below.