How to Know if Your Employees are Disengaged?


There are many relevant factors to consider that can affect the productivity and overall efficiency of employees in a workplace. Many are tangible and objectively measurable, such as salary, workspace conditions, or availability of proper equipment. However, perhaps the most important is the less tangible issue of employee engagement, as businesses around the UK (and the world) are increasingly noticing. 

A fully engaged team will be productive, focused, motivated, and can work with and around each other with minimal friction. A disengaged team, on the other hand, will likely show exactly the opposite traits. In this article, we’ll cover basic definitions of employee engagement, teach you to notice when your employees are disengaged, and offer tips on how to increase engagement in your workspace. 

What is Employee Engagement?

Essentially, the term employee engagement refers to the level to which a worker feels connected and committed to their workplace on a professional and emotional level. A fully engaged employee is proud or happy to work where they do, feel connected to their employer’s values and goals, and most importantly, feel that their employer has their best interests at heart.

The benefits of a highly engaged workforce are obvious since strong office morale is directly tied to increased productivity, better quality work, good employee retention, and improved profitability for the company. Conversely, a disengaged workforce will naturally produce the opposite effect – at best, a disengaged employee doesn’t care about their work and, at worst, will actively dislike it.

An employee who feels their work isn’t important or feels that their employer doesn’t care about them at all is unlikely to put in more than a bare minimum of effort, and is prone to leave at any time. 

Understanding Disengagement

Before you can solve the problem of disengaged employees, it’s necessary to understand what causes it and to actually be able to notice the problem. 

Signs of Disengagement

  • Decline in productivity and work quality
  • Taking long breaks or excessive time off 
  • Social withdrawal from colleagues 
  • Disinterest in or unwillingness to learn and grow professionally

Generally speaking, an employee who starts to show two or more of these signs has most likely become disengaged. However, always keep in mind the human factor: remember that a worker who doesn’t engage socially with the team may simply be very introverted, or that an employee whose work quality drops off suddenly might be going through a difficult time in their personal or family life. 

Causes of Disengagement

There are a variety of reasons why a worker may disengage with their workplace, but here are some of the more common causes: 

  • Lacking a sense of purpose: It’s only natural that someone who feels their work doesn’t contribute to the company will not feel very invested in their workplace. 
  • Social disconnects: Some people just don’t get along with other people. Feeling socially isolated from a team can often lead to disengagement. 
  • Lack of feedback or appreciation: Perhaps the single most common cause of disengaged employees. If one works hard and feels their effort is not acknowledged or reciprocated, it’s only natural to lose passion and drive.

Steps to Increase Employee Engagement

Once you’ve recognised the problem, here are some steps to take to re-energize and re-engage your workforce.

Build Open, Honest Communication

The best way to find out what’s bothering your workers is to ask them. Keep in mind that many people aren’t comfortable expressing negative opinions to their superiors, so for real and accurate results, it’s best to use anonymous questionnaires. Questions should generally focus on workplace culture, management, and offer the chance to voice specific problems employees are dealing with. 

Recognise and Reward Effort

We mentioned that not feeling appreciated is probably the number one cause of employee disengagement. There are many ways to demonstrate your appreciation to your workers, from simple and low-cost methods like a public shout-out for a job well done or providing lunch one day to vitally important steps like ensuring that people are paid appropriately and fairly for their work.

Be Tactful!

If you are starting a re-engagement campaign, remember to be respectful towards workers. Framing disengagement as a personal worker problem that is hurting your bottom line comes off as hostile and not particularly concerned with the problems workers are facing. 

Remember that there are many reasons workers may become disengaged and that solving employee problems with the goal of creating a happy, motivated workforce is ultimately the best thing you can do for your business. 

Seek Professional Advice From BBU Recruit

Meaningfully engaging with employees to build a better, more engaged workforce can usually be more easily said than done, and if there’s anyone who understands how to create a high-productivity workplace that’s good for both owners and workers, it’s BBU Recruit. We are here to solve your recruitment problems with highly trained staff, from temporary to contract to permanent staff. We’ve been connecting staff with employers and creating ideal workspaces for 30 years.
When you need top-quality, reliable help, contact us to find out how we can help!

Experience the BBU Difference

Need the perfect employee, or a new role?
Contact BBU today