Here’s Why Your Employees Are Disengaged At Work

Employee disengagement hurts your organization. From team morale to the bottom line there are emotional and financial costs to having a disengaged workforce.

Last week, we gave you five ways employee disengagement is hurting your organization. That’s the first step to attacking your problem – understanding why it is a problem for you. The next step is to understand why these employees are feeling unmotivated at work. Until you know that you can’t create an effective strategy for re-engaging those employees.

While each team is unique, the fact that so many people (70%) are anywhere from less than enthused about their jobs to outright seeking to sabotage their place of employment, means there are some key trends that can help you diagnose and treat the problem.

Take a look – do you think any of these issues are living beneath the surface at your organization?

1. Burnout. The Families and Work Institute did a study on the number of hours employees work each week and employee burnout. About 25% of respondents said they worked 50 or more hours a week, while 22% said they worked six to seven days a week. 25% said they don’t use all of their vacation time. Unless you set a pace for your team that maximizes their productivity and places boundaries around their lives outside of work, your best talent is headed for burnout.

2. They don’t quit their job, they quit their boss. The old adage is true: a recent employee engagement survey found that problems with an employee’s direct manager accounted for half of employee disengagement. An additional third cited lack or respect for or confidence in senior leadership and poor strategic alignment. It might be team to sit down with your team and find out what management structures and placements are working and which aren’t, and whether or not employees feel confident in their leaders and the direction of the organization.

3. Compensation. Satisfaction with compensation goes beyond salary. Do you provide benefits that assure your team members that you care about their health and the health of their families? (Remember that poor employee health correlates with poor productivity.) Do employees fear taking their child to the doctor will put their job at risk? Do you offer paid time off and encourage your team to use their vacation time to truly unplug? In a competitive environment, treating your employees well will give you an advantage as you retain valuable team members who feel cared for and cared about.

4. Misalignment of talent. This can look two ways: employees may be under-utilized in their role, frustrated that they can contribute more or perform better with more autonomy but instead feel hamstrung; or employees stretched too thin as the responsibilities pile on well beyond their job description. Helping your team understand the scope of their role and ensuring they aren’t either bored or overwhelmed will prevent your employees from giving up and tuning out.

5. Monotony. Similar to underutilization of talent, a boring work environment that discourages creativity and risk-taking can stifle your team. When was the last time you gave your team permission to dream big and take a risk on a new project or procedure? Do you value fresh ideas? Your employees aren’t robots, and allowing room for change means allowing room for improvement and creativity, helping your employees feel more satisfied and engaged.

We’ve all found ourselves in roles where we feel burnt out or underutilized or bored. As leaders and managers, it can seem easier to stick with the status quo, but by doing so we’re wasting some of or best talent to disengagement. 

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