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Disengaged Employees Crisis: How to Re-Engage

It seems that employees are engaged… until one day it’s readily apparent they’re not. Many organizations find that while new hires begin enthusiastic and eager, that level of involvement drops off over time.

Which brings us to the current sorry state of engagement where only one in four employees are highly engaged at work. It’s no wonder there is increasing talk about an employee engagement crisis. And this concern isn’t for nothing. Engagement has a direct connection with bottom line results. As one recent study sponsored by SAP notes, “companies with above-average revenue growth are more likely to provide employees with learning opportunities and to prioritize workforce issues.”

We’ve written before about the why’s of employee disengagement — that employees feel more and more removed when they lack a feeling of trust, worth, hope and competence at work. This change is the result of specific workplace shortfalls, such as lack of constructive feedback, career growth opportunities, poor communication and other factors.

What to do about disengaged employees

But the question then is, what do you do once you’ve identified that an employee or employees within your organization have become disengaged — their performance metrics tanking, productivity waning and they seem to adopt a general malaise.

The answer is you push back against disengagement and take steps to bring flagging employees back into the fold. This isn’t something that happens overnight, but involves a meaningful re-engagement process that, when done with persistence, will bear results. Some methods here include:


As notes, disengaged employees almost universally feel that they aren’t being listened to. So listen. At meetings, make sure to engage them by asking open-ended question such as “What do we think of this” and “How could we improve.” Better still, take a disengaged employee out to coffee and ask them what can be done to make work a better place for them. Make sure they understand that you’re on their side, and want to work with them to make the situation better.

Manage with more involvement

Make sure the disaffected employee doesn’t view his or her manager as removed from their working life. This means making sure the worker gets praise and rewards when they deserve them. Another good idea is to sit down with them and work out a monthly plan where the two of you brainstorm what needs to be done in the coming weeks, and how it can be accomplished. Set a deadline and give them the assistance they need to meet it.

Conduct “stay” interviews

The “stay” interview (h/t Forbes) is a yearly conversation with an employee in which you ask them questions about their satisfaction and commitment levels at work. This should be par for the course for all employees — not just done when an individual is becoming disengaged. The stay interview lets you understand the mood of your workers, and reveal any warning signs of disengagement.

Add an employee suggestion platform to the mix

Adopting an employee suggestion platform can provide a shot in the arm to engagement. Social enterprise software that allows for messaging, chats and even employee ideas and suggestion can help reconnect workers with their jobs.

Bring back disengaged employees with these tips

Harness the power of employee ideas.