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Disengaged Employees? 9 Tips to Engage Them

Employees are a company’s greatest asset, and you’ve probably heard that a million times already. Of course what you don’t know is that not many companies take advantage of that. In fact, today’s work environments leave a lot to be desired.

According to a Gallup study, the Disengaged employees – those who are actively unhappy with their work place – are costing the US somewhere between a whopping $450 billion and $550 billion. You know what’s scarier? A mere 30% of employees are engaged at work. The rest just put in their hours or worse, are active negative influencers at the workplace.

So the big question is – Is it possible to convert disengaged employees? And if so, how?

The quick answer would be yes, with invested effort.

Imagine an organization of a hundred people. It’s understandably a tough task to keep everyone engaged at work. This doesn’t necessarily mean that their managers are poor leaders (although this might sometimes be the case). What causes most switches from the neutral zone to the actively disengaged zone is the failure to understand what it takes to bring down barriers, and achieve high engagement.

Some strategists like those at Blue Ocean Leadership implement filters that reduce tasks that don’t add value and bring to light the ones that raise and contribute to effective leadership. It’s cost effective and helps motivate employees. Once frameworks and objectives are set in place, it is easier to convert disengaged employees into engaged employees.

To decipher the engagement level of employees within a company, Gallup surveys asks them questions like –

1. Do I have the opportunity to do my best work each day?

2. Am I surrounded by an encouraging and supportive team?

3. Is the company’s mission purposeful, which enables me to feel my role in the workplace is important?

4. Are my views heard?

They even ask if you have a best friend at work! In effect, the answers to these questions directly tie in to organizational performance.

Engaging Employees 101

If you aren’t ranking high on the employee engagement factor, we’ve put together a few tips that can help you re-engage your disengaged employees.

1. Ask Questions

It is imperative that disengaged employees are heard and encouraged in open forums and office meetings. Asking questions gets them involved and they feel open to share their views and opinions. Who knows, they might just hold the key to your next BIG idea!

2. Have Faith

Psychologically speaking, people want to succeed. No one wants to be mediocre. The way to deal with a disengaged employee is having empathy and taking their concerns seriously.

3. Berating Won’t Work; Obviously

Talking down to your employees isn’t the way to go. The relationship between manager and employee is a make or break one. If your employees aren’t performing as well as you hoped, try to find out the root cause of what’s holding them back.

4. Set Goals Together

The best way to get their attention back on track is to mutually agree on deadlines and goals, instead of just dictating terms. Coach them on ways they can achieve the goal and brainstorm ways they can uniquely contribute to the project. You’ll soon be reaping the benefits of the time you invest.


5. Appreciate Them

There is nothing more motivating than when your seniors appreciate the work you do. Even if disengaged employees are taking baby steps on the way to improving, appreciation from the boss is always welcomed. Along with the feeling of being recognized, it also brings with it the realization that they are a valued part of the team.

6. Deliver Opportunities

Monotonous work day-in and day-out is one of the many reasons employees are disengaged. Mix things up by giving them new projects to work on, or better still, encourage them to initiate something themselves. This will even bring about a sense of ownership and belonging.

7. Try Flexible Working Hours

Productivity decreases after a certain number of hours at work. So the notion of enforcing overtime hours my not always work in your favor. Being flexible with the option to work from home, or having custom working hours is a great way of bettering employee relationships.

8. Showcase Hidden Talents

Most employees are great at what they do, but may moonlight as something completely different! For instance – A graphic designer may be a fantastic singer, or an accountant might actually be a hilarious stand-up comedian. By hosting monthly showcase events as a stress buster from the daily grind, no matter how small the scale, you show that you actually care.

9. Encourage Mistakes

Okay, this might sound a little out of wack, but it’s true! More often than not we stop short of a great idea because of the fear that it might be a “mistake”. Encouraging openness in the workplace, will only inculcate creativity. As long as they learn (and don’t repeat them.. duh), you’re all set.

Our final thoughts? Disengaged employees aren’t damaged goods. All they need is guidance and supervision in the right direction. If that is given, they’re bound to shine!

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