Top warning signs that your employees are disengaged

Top warning signs that your employees are disengaged

Ilya Pozin is a serial entrepreneur, writer, and investor. He is the founder of online video entertainment platform Pluto TV, social greeting card company Open Me, and digital marketing agency Ciplex.


It’s a well-reported figure at this point, but it’s still immensely troubling: 70 percent of American workers are checked out on the job. A Gallup poll found only about 30 percent of workers were engaged in their current position, and this overall lack of employee morale is leading to between $450 and $550 billion per year in lost productivity.

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According to a 2012 Bersin & Associates report, employers spend somewhere in the realm of $720 million on improving employee engagement. Companies are spending millions and millions of dollars to improve engagement, retention, and performance — and yet 70 percent of workers are still imagining greener pastures.

Obviously, it’s time to rethink your employee engagement program. Here are some of the most common causes of employee boredom and some ways your organization can address these issues:

They’re disenfranchised

Your best people are checking out because they don’t feel like they’re part of the team. They feel separate from the rest of the organization. Teamwork isn’t part of their daily lives.

If you’re not focused on collaboration and building a more cohesive unit for your best people, it can’t come as a surprise when they start seeing their 9-to-5 as a paycheck instead of a long-term career.

Solution: Increase collaboration through team building

According to a 2014 survey by TechnologyAdvice published in a report called “Do Office-based Employees Want Digital Engagement Programs?,” 55 percent of employees would like to work in a predominantly collaborative environment.

The exceptions to this rule are those in sales, who would rather work in a more competitive workplace. The first step to putting a stop to employee disenfranchisement is to know your workforce and understand their needs.

Collaboration and team building should be part of your culture, especially if your workers are feeling checked out. Plan fun activities after work and take your team on a brainstorming retreat where they can focus on creativity and forming lasting bonds with coworkers. Make collaboration an important part of your culture, and employees will start to check back in.

They’re unmotivated

It’s easy to lose motivation on the job, especially if a worker has been in a role for a while and feels stagnant. Your team’s loss of motivation may also stem from lack of feedback and recognition, or poor management.

Solution: Gamification

With gamification, employees are encouraged to achieve their goals and recognized for their achievements. Meeting goals and gaining points from peers can result in prizes like gift cards, leaderboard status, and other rewards.

Many large companies have implemented gamification to motivate workers and provide feedback. Target uses gamification with cashiers by showing whether an item was scanned in optimum time with red or green indicators on the screen; they then receive a score immediately to know how “in time” they are.

Ford Motor Company added gamification to its learning portals to help its sales and service teams learn new information every year, and saw a 417 percent increase in use, resulting in better sales and customer satisfaction.

They’re stressed

According to a study by Nielsen for Everest College, 80 percent of Americans are stressed at work. And stress not only makes for an uncomfortable workplace, it can also lead to actual changes to the brain, making your team irritable, killing brain cells, and disrupting memory.

Solution: Employee wellness

Reduce stress in your office by giving employees a chance to take a break and let off some steam. Consider adding a few ping pong tables, organizing healthy food choices for the break room, or encouraging physical activity.

Even things like walking meetings can make a difference: Research from a 2014 Stanford University study shows walking has a positive effect on creative thinking, along with the obvious benefits of physical activity like increased dopamine.

Rethinking your employee engagement program doesn’t have to be drastic. By simply acknowledging common issues like decreased motivation and stress, and addressing them through team building, gamification and wellness initiatives, you can raise your employee morale and ensure your best people stick around.

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