When employees are engaged, they are productive, motivated, and become passionate contributors to the growth of the company. But what happens when employees are disengaged though?

Disengaged employees often show a lack of interest in work and other workplace activities. They find it difficult to be passionate about what they do. As a result, their efforts are minimal. Employees who are not engaged do not have the will to progress in their careers, and hence, do not spend time on honing their skills.

All of that can harm the organization and the work environment in the long run. Want to know if your employees are feeling disconnected at work? Look for the below signs.

5 signs of employee disengagement

1.      Social withdrawal and lack of participation

An organization is a place where people come together to work as a team. Social behavior plays a vital role in uplifting the work experience. Do you spot some employees withdrawn from general social activities? Unless there is a compulsion, they try and get away from being around people?

Maybe they don’t participate or offer to participate unless they are directly asked to. Collaborating with a team is a great way to develop creativity, get new perspectives, and receive feedback. But a disengaged employee may not make that effort to be social.

2.      High absenteeism

Whichever industry you may be in, the rate of absenteeism is usually between 1.7 and 3.8%. This is according to a report by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can get your organization’s average absenteeism figures by analyzing the data from the past years. Identify employees who lie on the extreme high sides of the average. Unless they have a valid reason, employee disengagement could be one reason the person keeps skipping work.

3.      Silence

One of the top signs of employee disengagement is silence. Do your emails to a particular employee always go unanswered? Does the employee sit silently in meetings or calls unless they are directly spoken to? Do you forget the employee is around most times because of the radio silence?

If the person, who was participative and vocal a while back, has suddenly become silent, then consider disengagement to be a reason behind this.

4.      Negativity

Negativity is a dangerous sign of disengagement. Want to know why? It affects not only the specific employee, but also others around them. A single person’s negativity at the workplace can bring down the entire employee experience. Some of the signs of negativity are:

  • Constantly bickering and complaining
  • Picking up arguments frequently
  • Never happy with the facilities and amenities
  • Finding faults with peers and the management and vocalizing it

5.      Complacency

Another one of the serious signs of employee disengagement that is unhealthy for the company is complacency. Complacency is a feeling of being in the present state and being happy about it, without wanting to progress. Complacency at the workplace means your work quality remains the same and your skills don’t develop. The worst thing about complacency is that it rubs on others.

When others see an employee being complacent yet getting paid as much as they do, they lose the motivation to work hard too.

How to improve upon employee disengagement

Here are ways in which you can solve employee disengagement without putting down the employee in question.

  1. Identify the problem first – Zero in on the problem without engaging with the employee directly. Only after you identify the problem and analyze it, talk to the employee.
  2. Talk to the employee – Try and understand if there is something that the employee is bothered about. For example, if there is a specific problem like issues with the manager, lack of recognition, or a skill mismatch, then solving it will solve the problem of feeling disconnected at work.
  3. Provide support, if possible – Will a sabbatical help the employee? Does the organization offer counseling sessions if needed? Sometimes, all it needs is someone to back the employee for them to get back on their feet.
  4. Create a culture of a healthy lifestyle – Create programs for the physical and mental wellbeing of your employees. This is a great way to tackle the signs of employee disengagement in the long run.
  5. Invest in the right employee engagement practices – Sometimes, disengaged employees may feel the way they do because the management has not invested in the right employee engagement activities. You may want to revisit your current process and take steps to revamp it. A good place to start would be conducting surveys in-house to understand what engages employees and what doesn’t.

Employee engagement and its importance

Engaged Employees

Employee engagement is a set of processes and activities that help employees feel more connected to their work and workplace and make them more passionate about what they do. In simple terms, an engaged employee does everything that a disengaged employee cannot or will not do.

Here are some reasons why employee engagement is important.

  1. Engaged employees are up to 17% more productive at their work.
  2. 71% of the executives agree that employee engagement is critical to the organization’s success.
  3. Companies that have engaged employees are up to 21% more profitable.
  4. Studies show that absenteeism reduces by up to 41% when employees are engaged.
  5. Every time a company hires a new employee, it spends an average of $5000. You can reduce this by working on employee engagement strategies that reduce turnover rates.

Employee engagement best practices

Here are some of the top employee engagement practices of 2021 you can try out at the workplace to decrease employee disengagement.

  1. Start by hiring people who match the culture of your organization.
  2. Invest in effective rewards and recognition tools.
  3. Encourage regular communication and frequent feedback.
  4. Encourage learning and development and provide your employees with the best L&D tools.
  5. Create a culture where people respect and endorse one another. This is a great way to improve employee engagement and experience organically.
  6. Keep your employees engaged by giving them ample space and opportunities to grow within the organization.
  7. Recognize and reward employees without delay.
  8. Create fun activities and team processes that break the monotony and give employees something to look forward to.
  9. Create a culture of open communication across verticals.
  10. Ask your employees what they want when it comes to employee engagement activities. This is the best way to optimize your efforts.


Employee engagement is a complex but critical organizational issue that needs to be taken seriously by the management. The signs of employee disengagement are so subtle in the initial stages that you might miss spotting them unless you take an effort.

Apart from regularly checking an employee’s productivity, make it a point to delve into other factors like engagement levels, happiness quotient, personal achievements, and passion. All these, in total, affect the employee’s productivity levels and determine how valuable they are to the organization finally.

A happy and engaged employee will uplift the organization, while a disengaged employee can single-handedly hurt all team efforts. So, invest in your employees, and they will reward you in return by staying engaged and being passionate about work.

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