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Signs of Low Employee Engagement in Your Organization

What does employee engagement look like? When your employees are engaged with their work for your organization, they feel connected to what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. They’re enthusiastic about meeting their responsibilities and meaningfully interacting with their coworkers and leaders. Engaged employees experience higher satisfaction with their job, which increases your organization’s employee retention and overall progress. Recognizing signs of low employee engagement can help your business take action to address workplace issues and retain your valued staff.

What Are The Most Common Warning Signs of Low Employee Engagement?

Signs of a disengaged employee will become evident in their behavior trends over time. A single bad day or a couple of difficult weeks doesn’t necessarily indicate that your employee is becoming disengaged; a change in routine can also indicate outside-of-work challenges they may be facing. Signs of disengaged employees will increase and be persistent over time. 

1. Decreased Productivity and Work Performance

When employees show sustained signs of producing lower quality work than they have historically contributed, it may indicate disengagement with their job and your organization. Missing deadlines for work assignments is a key indicator, as is an overall lower output of work production. 

2. Poor Communication

Good communication among coworkers and leadership is critical to support employee engagement. When an employee’s communication steadily declines, they may be experiencing disengagement. They might be silent during team meetings when they were once eager to participate. In one-to-one meetings, they may seem distant and offer minimal feedback.

3. Doing the Bare Minimum

Engaged employees aim to learn and grow in their roles. Employees may be disengaged if they do just enough to get by. Some need more skills to progress in their role and develop insecurity. This can lead to dissatisfaction and low engagement. Building skills improve employee engagement, and offering opportunities to build essential skills can help prevent disengagement while improving employee retention.

4. They Have a Bad Attitude

An employee who is vocally rude or critical can significantly impact overall morale at your workplace. They might have a persistent “us vs. them” attitude that creates conflict and tension among their coworkers and leadership. A negative attitude like this can result from feeling undervalued, unheard, or signs of pervasive low morale in the workplace and should be addressed promptly.

5. Withdrawing from Collaboration and Social Activities

Building a strong workplace community is critical for employee engagement. When previously collaborative and socially active employees start isolating themselves from coworkers and withdrawing from social activities, it could be a warning signs of dissatisfaction. This is a common signal from disengaged employees because they plan to leave the organization.

6. Being Disinterested and Complacent

When employees become apathetic about their role or your organization, it is a red flag that they have disengaged. An engaged employee will seek opportunities to volunteer for projects, 

take on new challenges, and be interested in pursuing career progression. A lack of passion for their work can result from dissatisfaction from workplace morale issues or poor leadership.

7. Resistant to Workplace Changes

Resisting change in the workplace typically stems from a lack of desire to put in the effort that comes with change – even if the benefits outweigh the challenges. An employee who doesn’t want to put in the effort may protest and then be slow to adapt to the changes, even resisting. 

8. Focused on Problems, Not Solutions

It’s common for team meetings to become “complaining sessions” for an employee who is disengaged. Instead of focusing on solutions that can help improve the organization or task at hand, they tend to engage in negative speech that is not productive or supportive. This behavior can be catchy if you have more than one disengaged employee, leading to a toxic workplace culture.

9. Increased Absenteeism

One of the most significant signs of low employee engagement is increased or chronic absenteeism. If an employee becomes increasingly absent, you should check in with them. If their absences are not health or well-being related, ask how you can better support them with any issues they have (at the workplace or with their role) contributing to their disengagement. 

10. Expressing Feelings of Burnout

If an employee shows signs of disengagement, consider if they are experiencing exhaustion or burnout. Check in with them, let them know you value their well-being and contribution to the organization, and (if applicable) offer assistance to help them find a better balance in their workload or tasks. 

Why Organizations Need to Recognize Signals of Low Employee Engagement

Recognizing the signals of low employee engagement at your organization will enable you to take action before the associated behaviors directly impact your business. Poor employee engagement doesn’t just affect the workplace and the people within the organization: it also affects your customers and your business’s potential for success. 

When low engagement is pervasive, the spread of negativity can move swiftly to impact company culture and decrease overall morale. This can spiral to cause reduced productivity and missing organizational goals. Organizations with low employee engagement also suffer from higher turnover, which leads to poor customer experiences due to a lack of consistency and experienced stakeholders.

How You Can Improve Employee Engagement in Your Organization

Improving employee engagement begins by recognizing the signs laid out above. But recognition is just the beginning of the process. If you’re wondering how your organization can improve low employee engagement for better workplace culture and employee retention, consider the following proven strategies and tools to achieve these goals.

  • Conduct regular employee engagement surveys to track your employees’ engagement levels. Talent Keepers has found that these regular surveys will measure how effectively your teams work and help you identify where additional support is required.
  • Encourage open communication and feedback by allowing employees to speak and be heard. Improving organizational communication empowers employee feedback while encouraging engagement with the organization and its work. 
  • Foster a supportive and inclusive workplace. This will strengthen the workplace community and build a positive culture. Recognize and reward employee achievements! 
  • Offer training and development programs so employees can progress in their careers with your support, boosting your likelihood of retaining your best staff.

Your leadership team, executives, and your HR department’s support must be committed to promoting employee engagement and positive work culture. Leading by example is vital to your success in these areas. Consider leadership training to support these efforts.

FAQs about the Signs of Low Employee Engagement

If you still have questions about employee engagement in the workplace, look at some of the most frequently asked questions we encounter!

What does an engaged employee look like?

Engaged employees have a positive relationship with their organization, coworkers, and leaders. They are motivated and desire to learn and grow in their role. They contribute to their organization’s overall success and well-being and embrace change that furthers its goals and progress.

What are the symptoms of low engagement?

Low employee engagement can include a variety of behaviors. These may include absenteeism, decreased productivity, poor communication, isolation, negative attitudes, and resistance to change in the workplace. These behaviors will be persistent and increase over time.

Why does employee engagement decline?

Employee engagement declines when an organization needs better leadership. Employees that feel they need to be more valued, heard, and recognized by their coworkers and leaders are at risk of disengaging. Additionally, not having access to skills-building opportunities may lead to dissatisfaction, low engagement, and low employee retention.