The Warning Signs of a Highly Disengaged Employee

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The world is an unhappy place when you don’t like your job.

Job dissatisfaction is the gateway to disengagement, disengagement leads to lowered performance, and lowered performance affects your bottom line.

However, if an employee is disengaged, they rarely verbalize it to their manager — which is a problem. Managers must not only be able to recognize the non-verbal cues of disengagement, but also take steps to re-engage the employee in a positive way.

4 signs of employee disengagement

How can you tell when an employee is unhappy at work? The warning signs are fairly obvious:

  • An “I don’t care” attitude — Coupled with lower productivity, employees that illustrate less interest or care for their work activities or their organization’s overall mission are likely disengaged.
  • Increased tardiness or absences — An employee who exhibits a pattern of tardiness or absences is most likely disengaged, indicating a decreased motivation to get tasks completed. Or, they could be looking for a new job.
  • Declining quality of work — Failing to meet deadlines, or meeting deadlines with sub-par work on a regular basis shows that an employee is less committed, especially if you know them to be capable of better performance
  • Permanent mood swings — A once happy employee that slips into a persistent negative attitude might be having a bout personal trouble, or they might be disengaged. Either situation is detrimental to the workplace and must be addressed.

Putting them back on the road to happiness

Realizing the first signs of discontent can help you identify a disengaged employee and take the necessary steps to try to get them back on board – starting with engaging them on a personal level.

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It’s important for the manager to be a good listener in these discussions, as unhappy employees may find it socially awkward to air their grievances, or they may fear repercussions for speaking up.

Make them feel safe from those things and have a candid conversation that gets to the root of the issue — it will put them on the road to happiness.

This was originally published on the Michael C. Fina blog.

Cord Himelstein has helped HALO Recognition become one of the leading providers of employee rewards, recognition and incentive solutions. Since 2007, he has been responsible for leading the company’s strategic marketing initiatives and communications efforts. Cord works closely with customers to help them develop measurable workforce recognition strategies and create memorable experiences for their employees.

Cord is also a recognized thought leader in the human resources community, and is a regular contributor to the company's corporate blog, where his articles have enjoyed national exposure through major HR publications including SHRM, Workspan, TLNT, Smartbrief, and Entrepreneur. Prior to joining HALO Recognition, Cord worked in the entertainment industry for more than 15 years, where he held senior positions with Elektra Entertainment and EMI Music Group.