Employee Engagement and Disengagement

by Jane Turlo

February 15, 2019

Leadership

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In my experience, employee engagement is key to a high functioning operation.  When employees are interested in their work and work environment, they want to do their best.  Happy and involved employees will bring solutions to the table, discuss their ideas with management and treat customers with care and respect.  When employees are respected, listened to, and acknowledged in an organization, the brand flourishes along with customer service, reputation and internal relationships.

How engaged or disengaged employees are can be related to leadership and/or culture.   Of course, there are just miserable employees who will never be happy or involved, but in my experience, I have seen leadership and culture make or break engagement. 

Engaged employees make suggestions to improve things, point out areas of opportunity and may have goals to grow beyond their current role.  As leaders it is our obligation to recognize these employees and work with them to help set them on a course for advancement.  Have discussions with employees and ask about career aspirations.  If they have demonstrated leadership qualities, tell them and assign them to projects to see how they perform.  Observe how they handle assignments and how they interface with colleagues.  This sets the tone and promotes a culture of growth and advancement.    

On the flip side, when dealing with disengaged staff, it is very important to schedule a time to speak candidly to employees about why they are disengaged.  Remember, employees need to feel comfortable and safe to speak freely, so hopefully leadership has fostered that type of environment.  If not, there are other items to address. Let’s assume the workplace promotes an open, truth speaking culture.

Disengaged employees can exhibit a variety of behaviors; apathy, negativity and unwillingness to participate are some of the behaviors I have encountered.  Let employees know you have noticed disengaged behavior from them and that you are worried about them and how this could affect the team.  Ask them if they agree or if this comes as a surprise and hopefully this will help open a dialogue. 

Disengagement, like engagement can come in many packages; one person, a whole team, a specific business unit or the whole organization.  Regardless how it presents, dealing with disengagement is about communication, discovery and strategically addressing the situation quickly.  Genuinely caring about staff and how they feel and act, can help disengagement be a thing of the past.

What do you think?  Are you a leader struggling with disengaged employees, or do you have an uplifting story to share about engagement?  Are you an engaged or disengaged employee?  Would love to hear your thoughts. 

Disclaimer: the advice in this blog is meant to provide guidance and be thought provoking. It is the writer’s opinion only.

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