5 Signs Employee Engagement Is Going Downhill and What You Can Do About It

By David Mizne

It’s 4:57 p.m. and your entire team is poised at the edges of their desks, muscles tense and sweat dripping from their furrowed brows.

Ok, they’re probably not wearing chicken suits unless they compete in San Francisco‘s Bring Your Own Big Wheel competition. But they are certainly visualizing the freedom that awaits at the finish line.

Why do some work environments leave employees unhappy, disengaged and counting down every millisecond until it is time to punch out? Wondering what is happening within your company? Here are the top 5 signs that your employees are disengaged:

1) The passion is gone

87% of workers worldwide and 70% of U.S. employees are not engaged. This means only 30% are passionate about their work and are actively driving their organizations forward. You don’t have to wait until lapses in productivity become a costly problem.

Regularly ask employees for their ideas and triumphs. When they have nothing to share for a couple of weeks, that could mean that their passion for their work is fading.

2) Facebook is the new powerpoint

When you catch employees on social media, it is unlikely that they are posting status updates about your company’s latest product release. They are looking at the stats of last night’s basketball game, taking a Buzzfeed quiz or worse, updating their LinkedIn profiles.

Employees sometimes feel disconnected from the company mission, feel like their skills are being under-utilized, or are upset that they haven’t received any recognition for their accomplishments. They can easily fill those voids with the kudos they receive for posting a video of cats playing patty-cake. (Seriously, this video is hilarious. Check it out below.)

3) They are self-isolating

Do employees always have a convenient excuse for avoiding staff meetings? Do they no longer want to attend holiday parties and company gatherings? If you can say yes to these questions, your once-committed team member may have lost the will to work or could be contemplating departure.

4) It’s always break-time somewhere

Breaks from work are a must. Not only are they required by law in most jurisdictions, but taking a breather actually improves an employee’s energy and the quality and quantity of work produced.

Red flags should go up when the work/break ratio shifts, and employees begin taking small breaks from downtime to get work done. Lunch hour becomes lunch afternoon, and they perform disappearing acts to the “bathroom” all throughout the day. Coffee breaks seem to happen more frequently, which you might find strange since Marsha from accounting doesn’t even like coffee…

5) Employees are (yaaaaawn) bored

Employees crave challenge. They want just enough to grow in their roles and levels of expertise, but not so much that the challenge causes frustration and stress. If an employee who was once eager to do work and learn necessary skills feels like your organization is stifling him, you want to know about it asap.

Managers who detect shifts in employee engagement early-on, have an easier time reinvigorating employees.After weeks or months of disengagement set in, it becomes nearly impossible to inspire the return of passion and productivity. Here’s what you can do to avoid the pitfalls of disengaged employees:

1) Create a culture of transparency and accountability

Hiding from a manager is difficult, but no employee can hide from an entire team. Make weekly and quarterly goals public so that everyone has to share their accomplishments and failures.

2) Align people with a higher purpose

People want to contribute to something greater than themselves. Create a company mission that will make an impact on the world, and hire people who are aligned with that lofty goal. Then people aren’t just focusing on their work, they see themselves as agents of change. Increased growth and productivity translates into a greater impact on the world around them.

3) Communication is key

Employees crave relationships with their managers. The way to get there is through constant feedback (not just an annual performance review). They want to be heard, appreciated, and supported. Managers that take the time to get to know employees create trust and commitment to a common goal.

As our CEO, David Hassell, would say, “employees are not resources or assets, but rather whole human beings with passions and dreams.” By creating cultures rich with shared purpose and environments of trust and support, company leaders can cultivate the passions and dreams of every team member. They can create a space where employees do their best work and also become the best versions of themselves.

David Mizne is Content Manager at 15Five, the leading web-based employee feedback and alignment solution that is transforming the way employees and managers communicate.  David interviews some of the most brilliant minds in business and reports on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to employee engagement.

Image credit: Mikel Ortega

What are the signs that employees engagement is falling at your organization? Leave a reply below.


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