Seven signs of employee disengagement

1. Absenteeism

Direct reports arriving later, leaving earlier, and/or taking longer lunches than usual, and higher levels of absenteeism and/or sick days is a sure sign of disengagement. They are less interested in their role at work than the simple pleasures of having time off. There is no real sense of purpose to their role that they can see advancing them towards any personal or work related goals they might have.

2. Lower quantity and or quality

Direct reports take longer to complete routine tasks and/or produce lower quality work than they have in the past. The pride in their work is missing, which may stem from elements including, but not limited to:

  • A lack of purpose in their role;
  • A lack of appreciation for their role and or;
  • A lack of differentiation between good and poor performers.

3. Customer Complaints

Customer complaints about lower-than-expected levels of customer service have noticeably increased. This may arise from one or more of:

  • A lack of understanding of role changes with customer interfacing staff
  • A perceived lack of incentives to engage customers well, including simple actions such as verbal appreciation
  • A perceived incongruence between an organisation’s words and its actions with regard to customers
  • Lack of authority to deal with customer issues

4. Poor Prioritisation

Direct reports have trouble prioritising assignments and strongly resist efforts to re-prioritise their workloads. This is a clear indication of a lack of will or lack of ability to understand the purpose of their role and therefore the criteria by which they should prioritise assignments.

5. Accidents and Incidents

Mistakes or accidents in the workplace have increased. This is a dangerous sign for any organisation. Increases in incidents and accidents not only show a high level of disengagement, they are indicators of high risk situations at play in the organisation and a major incident or accident are only a short step away. People experience more mistakes and accidents when they take shortcuts and ignore policy and proven procedure. This may indicate:

  • An overall drop in culture of working to a standard or;
  • That the management team are showing less leadership in this area or;
  • That people have been punished for reporting unsafe act and or unsafe conditions.

6. Low career interest

Direct reports lack interest in new development opportunities or direct reports are resistant to any sort of change in the workplace, operating procedures and daily work. This is an indication that people:

  • Do not agree with the goals of the organisation;
  • Do not believe in the goals of the organisation;
  • Do not think management are serious about achieving worthwhile goals.

7. Feeling of being overwhelmed

Direct reports frequently ask questions and voice concerns about how to get all of their work done. This is can be traced back to one of four characteristics that cause employees to feel they have a lot on their plate:

  1. The employee’s plate is reduced because of factors unrelated to their capability, but related to their personal issues at home or at work. Their emotional energy is drained and they cannot cope with a lot of work;
  2. The employee’s capability is diminished because the work is new to them and they have not been trained adequately It takes them a long time to get things done through lack of experience or knowledge and their plate is quite small;
  3. The employee’s workload has not been prioritised and they do not tackle jobs in order of priority, rather they try to tackle all across a broad front. The resultant in ability to finish and assignment results in a lack of confidence diminishing the capacity of the employee;
  4. The employee does not have the access required to data or the authority to make decisions about assignments on their plate.