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20 Problems Linked to Employee Disengagement

Employee Disengagement

There is a major difference between engaged employees and those going through the motions. It all boils down to relationships and communication between managers and employees. If there's a lack of motivation and communication, engagement levels will suffer. If engagement levels suffer, your business will suffer.

Here are 20 problems linked to employee disengagement:

1. Employee satisfaction.

There could be many reasons why employees may or may not be satisfied with their jobs ... but engagement levels have a large impact. People want to feel as if they have a purpose, as if their work matters. But this can be difficult if they work in a boring, stagnant, and disengaged workplace. If you don't have a good bond with your employees, they won't have a good bond with their work. Try implementing some employee engagement activities, and you'll see a boost in employee satisfaction.

2. Employee turnover.

Nobody wants employee turnover. Think about the time, money, and energy that goes into onboarding new employees. If people end up leaving after they're hired, it's a lot of work for no payoff. Usually, these problems stem from a lack of engagement. People who don't feel connected to their work have little reason to stick around. If offered a position elsewhere, they're going to take it.

3. Disengagement costs a fortune.

As a mentor and leader in your company, you don't want your employees to be unhappy or disconnected. Issues related to employee disengagement extend much further than this, though. According to Deloitte, federal agencies lose $65 billion a year as a result of employee disengagement. This can hinder the success of any organization in any industry. Disengagement not only looks bad, it costs you money, too.

Employee Engagement Book

4. Unproductive workforce.

Your company can't move forward without a productive workforce. Managers often use productivity as a benchmark when evaluating employees. But they learn the hard way that productivity suffers if there's no effective employee engagement strategy in place. Keeping employees on task is hard when they're not engaged in their work.

5. Employee disengagement is contagious.

You shouldn't ignore disengaged employees. It may only be a couple people at first, but disengagement is contagious. It will spread throughout the company. Bad attitudes rub off on people, and things will get worse if you don't address the issue immediately.

6. Millennial turnover.

employee disengagement - millennial turnover

Millennials are the future of the professional landscape. They're tech savvy, open to new ideas, and creative. Millennials are also picky about where they work and what their work week looks like. If you don't create an environment suited to employee engagement and learn how to communicate with millennials at work, they're going to leave. Remember #2 above?  

7. Collaboration will suffer.

Collaboration between employees is a beautiful thing. It's responsible for great ideas and solutions. For this reason, collaboration should never go out of focus. Employee disengagement has negative effects on collaboration. It causes employees to withdraw and avoid working with each other. Allow collaboration to suffer, and your business will follow along with it.

8. Employee input will disappear.

Your employees are the lifeblood of your organization, and their input matters. Like collaboration, employee input can lead to new ideas, new processes, etc. But nobody wants to make suggestions if they don't feel connected to their job. Without this connection, disengaged employees will unplug and count down the minutes until they can go home.

9. Employee disengagement affects sales.

Every company department is important, but your sales team keeps the customers coming in. You put a ton of work into keeping sales' productivity levels high, and for good reason. If you want your sales rates to soar, the team needs to feel content in their environment. Otherwise, employee engagement levels are going to fall, and sales are going to suffer too.

Bonus: Download the step-by-step checklist of 49 Employee Engagement Ideas   that will show you how to improve engagement in your organization.

10. Employee disengagement affects customer service.

Customer service is important. You may think you're doing a good job, but when was the last time you checked in with your processes and support team? Disengaged employees don't care about your customers. And today's customers don't have the time or inclination to deal with poor customer service. They'll go elsewhere without looking back.

11. Disengaged employees don't show up to work.

When employees don't show up to work on a regular basis, you know there's a problem. Occasional absenteeism isn't necessarily a bad sign, but once patterns start forming, it's time to take action and apply some new employee engagement ideas. Absenteeism and employee disengagement are connected.

12. Employee disengagement affects company culture.

employee disengagement - company culture

Don't ignore your company culture. Building culture takes participation from everyone, and employee disengagement will cause plenty of difficulties. For a company to have its own unique vibe, employees need to feel positive and engaged in their work. After all, there's nothing worse than a boring, run of the mill company with no sense of individuality.   

13. Lack of improvement.

Even if you think you have the best employees, everyone is capable of improvement. When staff members get better at what they do, the entire organization benefits. Learning new skills requires motivation ... and employee motivation comes from high engagement levels. The chances that disengaged employees will get better at what they do are low. And it's not that they can't get better; they just don't want to. This is just one more reason to focus on improving employee engagement in the workplace.

14. Lack of empowerment.

There are distinct differences between employee engagement and employee empowerment. When employees feel they're doing good work and are happy with their jobs, they're likely to feel empowered. They will own their work. They will contribute more, create less tension, and become better workers.

Employee Engagement Book

15. Lack of growth.

Growth should be the goal for anyone in a leadership position, and it takes effort to get there. Building a company from the ground up is not something that happens overnight. Growth should be natural, and much of this depends on your staff. Engaged employees aren't content to sit back and watch their company grow stagnant. They will improve and make changes. When people don't care and they're disengaged, they're not going to help your organization grow.

16. Disengaged employees are unmanageable.

Managing a group of employees of any size can be challenging, so why make things harder? Engaged employees are easy to work with. They'll listen to your ideas, fix issues, and take criticism well. If your staff is disengaged, they'll go against everything you say. They'll drag their feet. And they'll disrupt positive energy in the workplace.

17. Disengaged employees make costly mistakes.

A major reason to try new employee engagement programs is to keep mistakes from occurring. All it takes is one flaw in a product or service to anger and alienate customers. People who pay attention to what they're doing will avoid mistakes at all costs. Disengaged employees don't care enough to focus their attention on the details.

18. Disengaged employees aren't leaders.

employee disengagement - leadership

A great company is one that invites internal growth and hiring from within. Someone working in an entry-level position could be a great candidate for a leadership position some day. But they have to be engaged in their work to even want to take the next step. Hiring from within helps promote those who know the company well and are striving for success. Disengaged employees don't fit this criteria.

19. Employee disengagement = Safety issues.

In many industries, safety is a concern throughout the workday. Often, safety outcomes depend upon employees' focus and attention. When focus dwindles, problems can result ... some of which can be dangerous. Safety problems are grounds for lawsuits and you need to avoid them. A great place to start is to improve engagement levels in your organization.

20. Poor quality products and services.

Along with providing great customer service, pushing out benchmark products and services is a top priority. This is the most direct route towards building an audience. Great products and services come from great employees, which is why you should hire the right people in the first place. But, even the strongest employees will fail to produce when suffering from employee disengagement. If people aren't engaged, you'll have nothing worthwhile to offer to customers and clients.

In conclusion.

There are plenty of reasons why you can't afford to lose employee engagement. The above examples just scratch the surface. Many of these can spell disaster for your organization, and their repercussions can be long-lasting.

You owe it to yourself to have engaged, happy, and ready-to-perform employees. There will always be factors you can't control, but focusing on those you can control will make a difference. Don't forget that engagement levels depend on relationships and communication between employees and managers. Be there for your employees and create a comfortable work environment for them to thrive within.

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Tim Eisenhauer
Written by Tim Eisenhauer

Tim is president and co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.

Comments (2)

   
Randy Steer
Randy Steer
Thoughtful and thought-provoking. 1, 2, & 6 -- Employee satisfaction and turnover both have an indirect impact on an organization's ability to even HIRE, let alone RETAIN, the people they want. Word gets around, now more than ever through social media, and results of workplace surveys are also increasingly published -- "best places to work" surveys, the Federal Employee Viewpoint survey, etc. 5 -- "Contagion" doesn't just come from bad attitudes rubbing off. The first few people or indications can be the canaries in a coal mine -- they may be the ones who "gave up" the earliest, but whatever it is in the environment that contributed to the first "disengagees" may affect more people later, without relying on any "rubbing-off". What looks like contagion could just be more of the iceberg emerging. 7 -- Collaboration is more than just a potential casualty of disengagement. It can be a potent factor in KEEPING employees engaged. It's a form of inoculation against disengagement. 14 (and 8) -- Empowerment is certainly important, but it is not something that technology can do a lot about. One case of empowerment is employee input, which you discussed in Point 8. Employees will only continue to give input if they see that input being taken seriously and acted upon. That is empowerment, and it's something management has to do -- no social-business suite can do it *for* management. The things that you mention in 14 (feeling like one is doing good work, enjoying one's job) are really about engagement, not empowerment per se. Empowerment comes from a sense of self-direction, a feeling of being able to influence one's own work environment and tasks. And ultimately, letting people "own their work" requires open, flexible management and supervisors who are focused on employees as individuals rather than as cogs in a machine. Social business tools can give those great managers good channels of communication, but the great managers have to be there first. Finally, note that a good social-business tool can be a means for MONITORING the organization's engagement levels. it not only helps to boost engagement, but careful (not heavy-handed) use of surveys, Q&A, discussions, and blog-posts with comments can all help keep management's finger on the pulse of employee engagement.
12/8/2015
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timeisenhauer
Hi Randy. Thanks for taking the time to leave a very detailed comment. You add a lot of additional value to this post. I'm sure the readers will appreciate that. Thanks again.
12/9/2015
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