Handling Signs of Employee Disengagement

Do you know what your employees think about their work environment? Are they demonstrating disengagement or being fully engaged and productive? More importantly, would it make any difference if you knew they weren’t?

When it’s 90 degrees out and your employees are sweating profusely in the office, you know that they are hot and uneasy. At a time like this, you surely know what to do to create a more productive atmosphere. However, more often than not, the signals of low productivity and job dissatisfaction are much less visible.

Sometimes you may realize how badly productivity was affected only after the job or project is complete. Even more frustrating, you may notice in retrospect that there were actually warning signs that you did not pay attention to.


Your clues

Here are some signals of disengagement to keep an eye out for:

Employees constantly arrive to work late or cut their days short

Employees show sudden stress, fatigue, or carelessness

Employees are short and snippy with one another

Employees come to you for help with every little problem

Employees seem disinterested in caring for potential customers

Keep in mind that this is only a partial list of signals. I’m sure that you can add other signs to it based on your own experience.


Your Interpretations

As soon as these signs appear, you naturally make interpretations to explain why your employees behave like this or that. You may think that they are lazy or just don’t care. And while your interpretations may seem valid and sensible, they do not tell the whole story. More often than not you just ignore the behavior… at least until it happens again. This vicious cycle repeats until you are certain that you have enough “evidence” as to why the employees behave this way. At this point, you are convinced that this is the truth. Think about it for a moment.

Does this help you influence employees to become more productive or decrease levels of disengagement?

Using your own interpretations as evidence is quite misleading. Let’s explore an example.

Erica, your office administrator, speaks to customers daily to find out what kind of service he or she requires. She writes down the client’s problem, takes his or her address and number, and schedules a service visit.

However, over and over again, you notice that the technician who eventually meets with the clients for the service visit wastes time discussing the problem with the customers, simply because he doesn’t have enough information from Erica’s initial call. You may have even told Erica that she needs to do a better job.

At this point, you are frustrated and disappointed that she “simply doesn’t care.” Although this could be one possible explanation, what else could be going on?


The Correct Action

When you consider other possibilities and recognize key signals of disengagement, as opposed to assuming that you “already know what it means,” you can address the real, underlying issues. So what ARE the real issues? The only sure way to find out is through an open dialogue with your employee. Yes, this means that you actually have to ask questions AND make sure that you listen carefully to the responses. Only when you learn the employee’s side of the story can you make sense out of the signals and start creating a resolution.

So, the next time you notice a disengaged employee, start a dialogue about what’s really going on with them.

Feel free to share with us the difference the conversation made.

If you have a few disengaged employees on your team, it’s time to do address the common area – yourself. Give us a call at (732)385-1522 for your 3-point free assessment.