The Rules of Disengagement

In today's business world, employee engagement is a constant topic that strikes interest in HR professionals, upper management, and even employees themselves everywhere. Sure, everyone wants the magic bullet to fix DES (disgruntled employee syndrome), but as professionals in our respective fields, shouldn't we be asking how employees reach disengagement before diagnosing a cure? Today, there is so much talk about how engaging your employees increases sales, customer retention, and builds word of mouth notoriety, but the reality of the business world is that many employees are in fact, disengaged. According to a Gallup Poll taken in 2013, 70% of the U.S. workforce is "completely disengaged" in their workplace. If employee engagement is such a hot topic, how can the rate of disengagement be so high? The answer: we are not correcting the problem and its attributing factors.

Motivational Disengagement

By way of nature, many employees work for the paycheck and hard enough to stay away from the firing line. As a company, simply speaking, finances take the cake for important factors when it comes to the employees it hires. Bottom line, the company must save its bottom line. With these primitive mindsets, how can businesses and its employees grow when the prize has nothing to do with growth? Simple: company management must take the first step in understanding the intrinsic values of their employees. Money is not the only motivator in the workplace.

Drawing from personal experiences and published studies, below you'll find some contributing factors to employee disengagement many employers are still missing:

  • A lack of communication between the employer and his or her employees. Working in blind-faith isn't exactly a motivator.
  • Over and over again, employers don't create a community environment in the workplace. If any employee doesn't feel like they belong to a group or provide a valued piece of the puzzle, there is no incentive to work past the self-serving bare minimum.
  • Often, organizations don't provide enough or any feedback. Be it positive or negative, an employee needs to know that their actions matter and in what way they're affecting their workplace.
  • Change and the aversion to it can often disengage employees. We all want to know that our voice matters, but employers need to be ready to implicate suggestions if they want to retain employee morale.
  • We all hear this and "know" this, but it is often not implemented: recognition. We all need recognition for positive work ethic, ingenuous ideas, superb project performance, and we need it often. Nothing disengages an employee faster than being constantly overlooked.
  • While employers need to have control to run an organization, too much control can detach an employee. Instead of choosing an appropriate solution, why not give lead way to your employees to be decision makers?
  • Finally, often upper-management is thought to not be involved. The old saying goes, "lead by example." If you're disengaged, you cannot possibly expect your employees to be engaged and perform.

While many of these disengagement attributes are not aha moments, more often than not they are overlooked or forgotten about altogether. If each disengaged employee costs approximately $2,300 dollars a year, you can do the math and realize how much companies are chipping away at their bottom lines by ignoring simple fixes like the ones above. Through change, one minor ripple can have a tidal wave effect that benefits your business for a lifetime.