Just in the past week alone, I've come across articles in The Globe and Mail, The Vancouver Sun and various other sources that delve into this "new" and much-discussed issue of employee engagement/disengagement.
If you dissected what caused the feelings of disengagement to occur, you might discover an employee who is discouraged, even disheartened.
Disengaged employees may:
- Be overworked.
- Feel that they aren't equipped with the right tools or training to adequately perform their jobs.
- Feel that their efforts go unnoticed.
- Be part of a team that isn't performing well.
- Have the perception that the company doesn't care about them.
- Be struggling with health concerns.
- Be dealing with family pressures.
By looking at this from health and well-being perspective you might see that your disengaged employees are unable to effectively transform their stress; the strands that previously held them firm are beginning to fray and as a result, they are dropping (out). Disengagement may seem like the only recourse open to them. How else to stave the hurt from putting in all those long hours for little or no recognition, or for doing more with fewer resources and no incentives, or working for a company that doesn't seem to care for them?
Disengaged and disinterested people hurt. Something has occurred that has spoiled their work experience, which leads them to experience stress—a soaking in negative emotions which triggers the stress response, affecting emotional, mental and physical health. Over time, without techniques and tools, stressed out employees begin to lose their enthusiasm for the job. They become tired and look for ways to get through the day with what limited energy they possess. Resilience, that boat that helps to keep them afloat, develops leaks that not only drain off energy, but prevents them from safely navigating through the cold waters of uncertainty.
Their pain can affect the weather patterns at work. Stormy. Grey. Sullen. These may be just some of the faces that are presented to your customers and clients by an employee who has emotionally, mentally or physically checked out, but who still draws a pay cheque.
Disengaged employees are costly to a company. Their robot-like performance hardly speaks to the innovation and flexibility that most employers require in the rapidly changing face of the workplace. If allowed to ferment, negative attitudes can sour the morale of the workforce. Finally, if the employee goes on long-term disability, quits, or has to be dismissed, the hole that is left takes time and money to fill.
How do you reconnect the strands to weave a net that recaptures the heart and imagination of your disengaged employees?