The perils of the disengaged employee are well-documented. Disengaged employees are employees who show up for work every day, but don’t feel connected to their jobs, companies, bosses or coworkers. Their performance is mediocre and behind schedule, and they often bring down other employees around them with their poor morale and generally disgruntled attitude. Most business experts agree a disgruntled employee is a much greater threat to your organization than one who quits.
However, while a good deal of attention has been paid to who disgruntled employees are and how they threaten your organization, there has been far less light shed on why employees become disgruntled in the first place. Following are 6.5 reasons employees become disengaged, with a fresh idea on how to counteract and prevent each reason from occurring.
- Employers don’t engage. This reason is so obvious it almost seems not worth mentioning, but it’s listed first on purpose. Many employers never engage their employees on any real, human level. They simply assign work, hand out paychecks, and leave workers feeling very much like small cogs in a large machine. Any type of human engagement, even something as small as a suggestion box, monthly birthday celebration or words of encouragement from a boss, can go a long way toward making employees feel engaged with their work.
- Employers don’t listen. Many organizations operate in a “top-down,” hierarchical format where senior managers give directions to middle managers, who pass them along to employees. Obviously most companies cannot function as direct democracies where everyone gets an equal say, but too rigid a hierarchy creates feelings of resentment and powerlessness among the “rank and file.” Unchecked, these feelings lead to disengagement.
Discretion is the better part of listening. Any time a new process or responsibility is implemented, give the employees carrying it out a chance to give positive and negative feedback, and listen to both. The people who actually carry out orders have insight those giving orders will never possess.