18 SEP, 2014

How to Win Back Disengaged Employees

Bored Woman Watching Clock

Most people truly do want to do a good job. However, when external factors prevent them from achieving that goal, employee engagement can quickly turn to frustration and lead to disengagement.

What are the most common factors that turn engaged employees into a disengaged ones?

  • Lack of recognition, including pay raises and just plain praise.
  • Incompetent management, including lack of challenging goals, poor communication, and credit taken for subordinates’ work.
  • A stressful work environment, including disengaged co-workers, inadequate resources (like outdated technology or understaffing), and overall toxic culture.
  • No way to vent frustrations safely.

An employee who has the intrinsic motivation and desire to do a good job can easily be brought down by these external de-motivators. In order to engage this employee, you must remove these obstacles. Doing so will not be quick or easy, but it will be better for the health of your business in the long run.

How can you reengage your employees?

  • Ensure that deserving employees are individually recognized immediately for all their hard work up until now. Apologize for and acknowledge the lack of this recognition in the past. Commit to doing better going forward with a formalized recognition program and/or talent management program.
  • Train or remove managers who dampen employees’ development. Ensure that all of your managers provide their employees with goals that help them grow, along with feedback on their progress. Stress to them that when their employees look good, they look good.
  • Ensure that your staff has the tools and support needed to do a great job. Counsel or cull out employees who contribute to spreading negativity or stress in the workplace. Your company should have a positive vibe in order to foster teamwork.
  • Make sure there is a human resources professional or other manager available to employees to hear their concerns confidentially and act as an advocate. There is nothing worse than feeling you have been wronged and have no recourse.

There is no way to fake employee engagement, and no fast track to it. Throwing gift card rewards or even cash at unhappy employees will not fix anything. If you are able to address the root causes of disengagement, your business will reap the benefits as it sees increased engagement, productivity, and profitability.


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