5 Reasons You Have Disengaged Employees (and What To Do About It)

As an employer, one of the biggest struggles can be dealing with disengaged employees. According to a recent Forbes article, one single disengaged employee at the average salary level will cost you almost $16,000 per year. It goes on to say that if their salary were raised to $60,000, their disengagement would cost you $20,400 per year. If your disengaged employee is making $80,000 a year, their disengagement would cost you $27,200 a year. These are some shocking statistics. So what exactly is a disengaged employee, and what does a disengaged employee look like? Most importantly, how can you handle it?

A Better Leader is proud to offer consistent leadership training for your organization that focuses explicitly on employee engagement and strong workplace culture. We believe that pouring into your leaders and developing them to motivate employees at all levels will help you become an employer of choice. Of course, online leadership training may or may not be the solution for a lack of employee engagement in your workplace. We’ll cover the most common reasons you have disengaged employees, and how you can best handle it.

Lack of a Strong Culture

The 2019 Employee Engagement report conducted by Tinypulse surveyed over 200,000 employees and found that the biggest impact on your employees’ engagement level is workplace culture. They asked employees whether or not they would leave their company if they received an offer for a 10% salary increase elsewhere.

As one employee stated, “It would depend; if the other company had a strong culture and good benefits, such as work from home, casual Fridays, or a more flexible schedule, I would leave. But I wouldn’t just leave for money alone.” 

This employee was not alone in feeling that workplace culture was more important than just the thought of a salary increase. Another employee also surveyed shared that “quality of work/life balance is worth more than a 10% increase somewhere else.” Another employee stated that “The environment and culture are more important to me. I took a 10k cut to come here, and it was the best decision of my life.” As you can see, workplace culture is extremely important to any organization in terms of employee engagement, retention, and happiness.

Poor Management/Leadership

An employer retention report from 2019 showed that 11 out of 100 employees surveyed left their organization specifically because of their manager’s behavior. The employees’ specific reasons for leaving varied from unprofessionalism to lack of support, treatment of employees, and lack of competence. The report went on to share that many managers are promoted because of their technical skills, but may lack some of the social skills required to be effective in their roles.

Incorporation of socially competent behavior is essential to effective communication within your staff. It will set the tone for an engaged environment and employees who feel connected to even those at the highest leadership levels.

Lack of Communication/Feedback from Leadership

Leadership communication directly correlates to overall employee engagement. According to Cutting Edge, face-to-face communication about the organization’s vision, strategy, and progress is strongly linked to better employee engagement.

Additionally, as 15Five stated, “Even though a majority of managers feel they give enough feedback, employees are craving more.” Employees who receive feedback on their strengths are 30 TIMES more engaged than those who simply get feedback on where they could use some improvement. However, employees who receive constructive criticism on the areas they could improve on are still 20 times more engaged than those who receive no feedback at all.

The bottom line is: employees want consistent, regular feedback and communication from leadership at all levels.

No Support in Professional Goals

A 2018 Employee Retention Report of over 25,000 employees found that employees who don’t feel supported in their professional goals are three times more likely to be looking for a new job. Remember the costs associated with a disengaged employee that we shared at the beginning of this article? This statistic can be associated with employees who are no longer invested in their careers because they don’t feel that their organization is invested in their development.

In fact, the same retention report found that employees who feel they are progressing in their careers are 20% more likely to be still working at their companies in one year’s time. Employees at all levels need to feel supported and motivated to achieve their professional goals and receive consistent training and development to do so.

Disengaged Employees Feel Undervalued/Underappreciated

The 2018 study conducted by Tinypulse additionally discovered that “24% of employees who felt they had not received recognition from their direct supervisor in the past two weeks had recently interviewed for another position, compared to just 13% who had received recognition.” Additionally, the same study found that employees who do not feel valued at work are 34% more likely to leave their companies within the next year.

Employees want to feel valued. It doesn’t have to cost anything to provide informal recognition for a job well done. Merely acknowledging the hard work that your employees are accomplishing on a regular basis can boost employee morale and improve your employees’ experience.

What Can You Do to Impact Disengaged Employees?

As you can see, employee engagement plays a large factor in employee retention, and the number one factor that can impact both of those is your workplace culture. Along with a strong culture, there should be a strong focus on developing your leaders to be supportive, motivating, and invested in the professional development of employees at all levels. As Tinypulse perfectly stated in their 2018 survey, “Engagement, culture, and personal growth aren’t just buzzwords. In our current economic climate, leaders and HR must address these factors if they want to grow a strong and loyal team.”‘

Additionally, consider the 2019 Work Institute Retention Report. Their study showed that the majority of employees who voluntarily quit their jobs left within “preventable” categories of reasons. For example, more than 22 out of 100 employees left for career development opportunities, 12 out of 100 left for a better work-life balance, and 11 out of 100 left because of manager behavior. The statistics simply don’t lie. As an organization, you must shift your attention to the preventable reasons that have shown time and time again to contribute to employee turnover.

At A Better Leader, we believe consistent leadership training can be the catalyst to transform your workplace. Our approach is a behavioral change at a cultural level; develop your leaders to ensure they feel supported and motivated, and therefore are excited to connect with employees at every level. Leaders who are invested in their careers will align with your overall workplace culture. We’d love to help create a custom solution for you to increase employee engagement and retention.

About the Author Jennifer Orechwa

In over 25 years of helping companies connect with their employees, Jennifer has gained a unique perspective on what it takes to build a culture of continuous improvement. By blending a deep understanding of labor and employee relations with powerful digital marketing knowledge, Jennifer has helped thousands of companies achieve behavioral change at a cultural level.

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