How to Fix Employee Disengagement

How to Fix Employee Disengagement
Published Nov 13, 2020

Engaged, motivated employees are critical to success in the workplace. Fortunately, employee engagement climbed to a record high in mid-2020, according to a recent Gallup poll. The percentage of genuinely engaged workers reached 40%, and the percent of actively disengaged employees remained at the previous year’s low of 13%. The remaining workers felt neither particularly engaged nor disengaged.

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Overall, those are pretty good numbers. Still, what happens when employees become disengaged? You’ll need a strategic plan to address the issue and get them reinvested in your work to keep absenteeism low and productivity high. The guide below will offer some tips on increasing employee engagement.

How Do You Overcome Employee Disengagement?

What can you do to overcome employee disengagement at your company if it does occur? Below are a few possibilities for powering through when you’re thinking about how to remedy this issue:

  • Connect with employees: Managers should have a plan to check in with their employees regularly. Even scheduling a 10- or 15-minute catch-up session every few months can help. Connecting with employees to chat lets them know their managers care about them and are invested in their growth. These chats can also help managers understand any stresses employees bring in from home and work challenges that may require guidance.
  • Offer support: If employees feel disconnected because they’re struggling, they may hesitate to discuss the issue with managers, feeling the most professional course is to attempt to power through. But if managers have developed a good rapport with employees and can empathize with their challenges — even acting more like a coach than a boss — they can offer support to give employees some successes and help them feel more engaged at work.
  • Address the issue directly: Too often, when managers sense employee disengagement, they fail to address the issue head-on, hoping the problem will resolve itself. Talking directly about what’s happening is usually the best course of action, though. If employees haven’t realized the extent of their disengagement, a frank conversation with their managers can let them know the impact their attitudes are having. A direct conversation can also give employees a clear idea of what needs to change.
  • Give them the tools they need to succeed: Some employees may become disengaged because they lack the tools necessary to do their work effectively. For instance, if you’re using outdated technology, your workers may not be able to meet their goals or deadlines no matter how hard they try — so they may give up. Ensuring access to effective technical solutions can help engage employees by setting them up for success.

How Do You Deal With Actively Disengaged Employees?

What happens if your office has many actively disengaged employees? How can you work toward fixing employee disengagement in that case?

If your workplace is contending with active employee disengagement, taking a clear, focused and caring approach to strengthening staff relationships with the company and each other can help. Here’s how you can do so:

  • Approach with empathy: If employees feel disengaged from work, there’s often a reasonable explanation. Maybe their workloads are too high, a certain aspect of their jobs is too stressful or they’re dreading work every day because of unwanted conflict with co-workers. Making a genuine attempt to see the situation from the employees’ perspective enables managers to support their workers while getting the most from their talents.
  • Make your expectations clear: A lack of purpose quickly leads to burnout and disengagement. One way you can motivate disengaged employees is to provide clearer expectations. Give your workers defined, reachable goals to strive for, and you’ll likely see them becoming more motivated.
  • Maintain strong relationships with direct reports: One truism of the workplace is that employees don’t quit jobs — they quit bosses. Although this axiom doesn’t always hold true, it’s often the case that the manager-employee relationship is key to how employees perceive their work experiences. Making efforts to form quality, supportive relationships with your workers makes them more likely to share information with you, develop new ideas and become more engaged overall.
  • Foster dialogue: One way to promote engagement among your employees is to foster interpersonal dialogue and connections. Enable your workers to talk to each other, share ideas and ask questions about what works best for others in tricky aspects of your work. Or give them a virtual space — like a Slack channel or private online forum — where they can post tips, ask questions and support each other throughout the workday. If employees feel genuine connections with one another, they’ll likely approach their work with real commitment as well.

How Do You Motivate Disengaged Employees?

If your workplace has disengaged employees, you’ll need to develop a plan to motivate them, both for their happiness and for your productivity and company culture. How can you do that? Here are a few ideas:

  • Utilize employee strengths: All employees have stronger and weaker areas of their work. If you can find ways to allow them to bring their strengths to bear, they’ll likely become much more interested in their tasks. They’ll be happier because they’ll have ways to excel, and they’ll be more motivated to improve their skills in areas that naturally come more easily for them. Of course, you should strive to have your employees to improve in all areas, but focusing on strengths often helps them truly shine.
  • Give recognition where it’s due: Recognizing workers individually for their strengths makes them feel even more engaged and motivated. But a slightly older Gallup poll reports that only one out of three employees received praise for quality work in the past seven days. If you can find a way to focus on giving your employees genuine positive feedback in areas where they deserve it, you’ll likely see them begin to take more pride in their work, become more engaged and strive to improve.
  • Work together to set goals: Get your employees involved with setting short- and long-term goals for themselves. Unfocused individuals likely lack investment, and giving them concrete goals to strive for can help motivate them. Plus, forming those goals around employee input means they’ll be striving toward objectives they actively want to achieve.
  • Show your appreciation: It may sound simple, but saying “thank you” to your employees goes a long way toward making them feel valued. Demonstrating your gratitude for their hard work can make your workers feel more engaged and determined to succeed.

How Do You Reengage Disengaged Employees?

When you’re thinking about how to fix employee disengagement, you also need a plan for actively reengaging them. Below are a few ways to reengage employees:

  • Talk less and listen more: Does your company have a rigid set of metrics and goals for employees to meet but rarely solicit their feedback or check in with them? If so, try easing off on your instructions and engaging your employees with questions instead. Ask them what’s going well with their work, how they feel about new ideas and what they’d do differently if they could. When employees feel as if you truly value and hear their concerns, they’ll likely become more invested in their work.
  • Give real opportunities: Your employees may be disengaged because they don’t see any paths toward growth for themselves. Give your staff opportunities to achieve, whether those are promotions, new responsibilities, side projects or chances to go to events.
  • Provide flexibility: If it’s feasible, offer your employees flexible work hours. Not everyone’s brain is wired for a typical 8-to-5 workday. You may find you get more from your employees if you allow them to set schedules that mesh better with their natural circadian rhythms. Allowing your employees to work from home once in a while can also reduce their commute times and stress levels and make them more productive.
  • Be understanding with mistakes: A Draconian workplace that punishes mistakes will deflate morale in a hurry. When employees make mistakes, treat these incidents as learning opportunities and try to salvage what you can from the situation. As long as the employees are truly learning from their mistakes and not causing serious trouble for the company, being compassionate will enable your staff to feel more secure, engage better and take more potentially rewarding risks.

Let XL.net Help With Your Employee Engagement Plans

When you’re considering how to fix employee engagement with technical solutions, contact XL.net. Our helpful engagement alignment platform allows you to align your employees across departments, even if they work remotely. Everyone will be on the same page and engaged with your business’s overarching ideas and goals. You can customize your plan, work with a dedicated specialist for support and use tried-and-true metrics to assess your engagement success.

Contact us today to get started on developing a customized engagement alignment plan that will help your business reach new heights.

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