Top 10 Proven Ways to Spot Lack of Employee Engagement

Tips on how you can easily identify when an employee is getting disengaged, and some remedial measures that will help to nip the issue in the bud

Employing capable talent is the first step of growing an organisation. It is, however, just the commencement of the journey of an employee in a new environment. The real challenge which is seemingly a major cause of dilemma for today’s human resource managers is employee engagement. Engaging an employee means keeping him motivated and attached to the company’s goals and aspirations. An engaged employee identified with the corporate vision and goes the extra mile to achieve the goals.

Symptoms to identify disengagement:

While an engaged employee is definitely an asset to any company, a disengaged one is a liability. Employees can be classified into three segments: engaged, disengaged and actively disengaged. The last category is the most risky as they can cause losses in more than one way. Here are a few tips on how to identify disengagement in your employees:

1.   Lack of communication and feedback: Disengaged employees do not contribute to the communication process and hinder the work of colleagues too. They are least likely to give new ideas and share any inputs.

2.   Lack of energy at work: The zeal and enthusiasm level of such employees is zero. They often miss deadlines, try to pass their day and wait for the time to go home.

3.   Taking frequent breaks: Another common symptom is that a person is taking frequent breaks for snacks, coffee or smoking. This shows that either he does not have any significant work, or does not feel the responsibility to complete it. He also might be feeling bored with mundane work.

4.   Excessive social media: There is a tendency in disengaged employees to use social media sites frequently. They will be seen using various chatting/messaging apps, exploring shopping sites or even looking for job avenues during office hours.

5.   Poor quality of work: When a person is not motivated, the quality of his output will also suffer. Data shows that the mistakes made by disengaged employees, and the resulting loss of time and efforts, cost companies millions of dollars. The quality of products and services also dips and so does the reputation of the company.

6.   Frequent leaves: A sign that an employee is lacking engagement is when he takes too many days off as he lacks the urge to go to work. Intermittent leaves translate to a huge loss in terms of man hours.

7.   No learning and growth: The person who does not feel engaged in the organisation will never try to learn new skills. His growth trajectory will be stagnant and he will be averse to using new techniques at work.

8.   Lack of leadership: If the disengagement happens at the middle or senior level managers, then the obvious sign will be a lack of leadership. He will not be able to mentor his team, as he himself lacks the drive to perform.

9.   Effect on personal life: Disengagement at work also impacts personal life. It might be worthwhile for HR managers to know whether employees spend their weekends just resting or they engage in any productive activity.

10.  Lack of collaboration: Since the disengaged employee does not give his 100% input at work, he is least likely to collaborate with employees from other departments. If there any incident of such non cooperation, it will be advisable to go deeper into the matter and look for the root cause.

Taking timely corrective actions:

Once you know there are disengaged employees in your company, you must take quick steps to eradicate the problem. Communication must be established so that the problem comes to the fore and the employee is ready to accept assistance. The corrective measures may involve only the immediate boss, the department head or even the top management. 

The three broad actions that can be taken are:

  • Focus groups and forums: Focus groups for enhancing engagement can be formed with targeted employees. They are asked to share views, give inputs, and even share grievances and reasons for their disengagement. Open communication channels will help them get back interest and enthusiasm.
  • Review organisational structure: Check if the employees are getting enough flexibility and positive reinforcement. The role of each person must make the best use of his core strengths. Wherever possible, team work must be encouraged.
  • Review bonuses and benefits: Monetary factors do play a role in causing disengagement. Employees who have not received any hike for a few years can easily stay disengaged. So, review the compensation plan, offer some bonuses and plan a few perks. Moreover, intangible rewards like praise for hard work and innovation must also be there. All this will raise the morale of an employee.


Disengagement is contagious. You cannot afford to ignore the symptoms of a disengaged employee. It can start from just one person but soon spread to a larger group as the person spreads negative thoughts around. If you want to save your organisation some major hassles and money, then it is better to address the problem of disengagement at a preliminary stage. After all, a stitch in time saves nine.

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