4 Research-Backed Tips for Disengaged Employees

One stick figure is climbing up the arrow; another is stuck on a down arrow

What do you do when a previously loyal and engaged employee becomes increasingly disengaged? Refer back to your employee engagement training  for what can cause employee disengagement and follow these four research-backed tips:
  1. Set up a meetingIt seems so obvious, but many managers prefer to ignore signs of disengagement in the hope that things will change or that they will avoid a difficult conversation. They would rather not acknowledge the yawns of boredom in meetings, the substandard performance and the telltale symptoms of burnout. This is a huge mistake. Not only is the behavior unlikely to change without intervention but also the downward spiraling employee can affect the motivation and engagement of others on their team.

    Have the conversation. Be respectful as you ask what is going on. There may be problems at home which need your understanding or there may be problems at work that you can help solve. What caused their initial engagement for the job to flag? What is missing?

  2. Recognize that you may be part of the employee engagement problem
    Very often employee engagement problems lie with poor management practices. Are you managing this employee too much or too little? Are there conflicts on the team that you need to address? Are performance standards or cultural expectations unclear?  Are goals, roles or interdependencies fuzzy? If you have established a relationship built on trust (a critical part of a manager’s job), then you will hear about ways you can improve. Accept the suggestions with an open mind and act upon them.

  3. Make an engagement plan together
    Whatever the problem, seek employee engagement solutions together. Set goals with deadlines. Does your employee want more of a challenge? Then assign a special project with milestones that are tracked regularly. Do they need more training? Then provide development opportunities to build the skills they want and you need. Are they unhappy with their current role? Then see if you can create a new role that builds on their strengths and yet still contributes meaningfully to the team’s purpose.

  4. Stay in touch and encourage their progress
    Check in regularly and show your appreciation for their efforts. You may just need to say a sincere “thank you” now and then. But when there are real results, share the victory publicly with the team. 

Don’t let a once-engaged employee become disengaged without learning exactly what is wrong. You owe this to the employee, your team and your company. The problem may be easily fixed, and you will have regained an engaged employee who appreciates you back!

Download our Employee Engagement and Retention Toolkit Now to Start the Journey

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