Nigel Danson: How to spot employee disengagement, and how to do something about it

employee disengagement
Pencil balancing – disengagement at its worst.

HR professionals are increasingly being told that the world is in the midst of an employee engagement crisis, pushing them to take stock on the state of their own organisations. Identifying that you have an engagement issue is the first step, but how exactly do you do that? What does disengagement look like?

A recent Interact survey of HR and internal communications professionals across the globe revealed that 48.5 percent of recipients feel a lack of contribution is the biggest sign of disengagement. 24.2 percent said a dwindling team spirit was the most common sign, while 15.2 percent felt rudeness was the key denominator. Missed deadlines are a concern for only 6.1 percent, and six percent said turning up late for work is the most common clue.

These factors vary across organisations but it comes down to looking closely at what is happening within the business. Are your employees contributing? Does the culture lend itself to a positive team environment? Talking to the team about their experiences or rolling out employee engagement surveys is another way to find out what’s really under the skin.

Once an issue has been identified, you then need to choose to do something about it. How do you get employees contributing more, and feeling part of a positive team?

Make your employees feel valued

In order to feel valued, employees need to feel they are listened to. This means actually asking them how they feel, why they feel a certain way and what improvements they would like to make. Ask them to identify the challenges in the business and the steps they would take to address them. Getting them involved will show them that you value their opinion. It’s important to keep this communication going, show that you are taking action, share updates and keep asking and listening.

Build a positive team environment 

Create a collaborative culture where your employees feel comfortable sharing knowledge, ideas and information with their colleagues. Further Interact research into collaboration software reveals when a blog post is liked, authors are 45 percent more likely to post again. When a blog post receives comments, authors are 80% more likely to post again. This collaboration builds workplace relationships (a Gallup survey found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50 percent), boosts morale and increases productivity.

Embrace trust and respect

Employees need to trust in the direction of their organisation. They must believe in its values and what it stands for, as well as having a level of respect for the senior team. Sharing regular blogs for example from the CEO will add a personal element, make them much more approachable and encourage others to share as a result. A job is all about the people, so get this right and employees will feel proud to deliver against the goals of the organisation.

Rejoice in an open and transparent culture

Possibly the most damaging of all is water cooler gossip. Change isn’t the scary part, it’s the uncertainty surrounding it. If you’re not sharing news, it can send employees in to a spiral of distrust and disengagement. Encourage an environment where all managers share what’s going on in the business. Deliver frequent communications. Just keeping employees in the loop will ensure they know there isn’t anything the organisation is hiding.

Recognise and reward your employees

Peer-to-peer recognition improves customer satisfaction by 41 percent, while manager recognition increases performance by 60 percent, and it’s easier than you think. There is a lot of value in the feeling of self-worth that comes from doing a good job, and that is reflected in the tasks that motivated and engaged employees complete on a day-to-day basis. By building a rewards programme into your corporate culture, where peers and managers alike can visibly praise their colleagues, it will give employees a boost and encourages others to strive for the same.

About Nigel Danson

Nigel Danson PhD is CEO and Founder of Interact. He founded Interact with the aim of developing a simple enterprise collaboration solution that connects people to people, and people to content. After conceptualising the intelligent software over 10 years ago, Danson’s entrepreneurial spirit and scientific approach has taken it to the forefront of the social intranet space.
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