Disengagement in the Workplace

by karen on March 15, 2012

What would it take for you to become fully invested in the outcome of your labor?  If “they” paid you a greater sum of money, would that entice you to work harder and/or care more?  If “they” truly understood and valued all that you bring to the table, providing you with recognition for your hard work, would that do it for you?  If “they” would just give you a promotion, you’d be a more engaged and dedicated worker, right?

To be honest, I’m not sure who “they” are, and I’m not at all sure that whatever is going on between you and them is their fault.  If you have a job, and you are getting paid to do that job, then part of your deal is to be engaged in and do your job.

The big buzz word in American business these days is “employee disengagement.”  What exactly does the term mean?  Employees who are disengaged, are physically at work, but from a commitment and connectivity point of view, they are not present.

Disengagement in the Workplace

And maybe you think that disengaged workers are not such a big deal, but, when you look at the numbers, the problems start mounting quickly.  PeopleMetrics’ Employee Engagement Research found that 12% of all employees are actively disengaged at work.  An Aon Hewitt survey lists employee engagement as one of the three biggest issues for business leaders coming out of the recession.  A MetLife research report said that 1 out of 3 workers plan to be working elsewhere within the next year.   Disengaged workers, from a lost productivity perspective alone, is costing US employers $300 billion.

Hey, if employees aren’t interested in their jobs and they’re planning to leave anyway, then just let them go, right?  Not so fast.  Employee disengagement is a symptom of some deeper problems.  How do you know if you have an employee disengagement issue?  Telltale signs, such as high turnover, absenteeism, chronic complaining, the blame game, a lack of learning are elaborated upon in Stephen Gill’s The Performance Improvement Blog. 

There is shared responsibility for employee disengagement.  The organization’s part of the deal is to provide meaningful work to employees.  So what can you do to increase the engagement of your disengaged workers?  How can you strengthen employees’ commitment to their jobs and the organization and become more connected to those with whom they work?  It boils down to finding ways to ensure employees know they are making a difference and that they have opportunities to advance.  In other words, people want to feel fulfillment in their lives, both personally and professionally.

If you have disengaged workers in your company, you need to be on a mission to help employees see that their good work impacts others.  And you need to identify advancement opportunities – not necessarily in the traditional sense of promotions.  Think learning.  Think growth.  Think skill development.  Search out and create opportunities for employees to learn, grow, and develop their skills.

And you may want to consider looking into Certified Dream Manager work.  It truly helps turn disengaged workers into engaged human beings.

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