Disengaged employees sometimes need a spark. They are almost never bad employees, check out these 5 tips to reengage the disengaged.

How do we become disengaged? What triggers disengagement in employees? When employees are engaged they embody the vision, values, and purpose of the company. The ultimate goal is to have a team of passionate contributors who are driven toward innovation and are positive and innovative problem solvers. As Leaders, we need to understand what causes our team to be disengaged if we want to shift them towards innovation. 

Problems

When considering the signs of disengagement, often the first thing that comes to mind is laziness, apathy, and dissidence. These are merely symptoms, and as leaders, we need to dig deeper to discover what is happening at the core of our company and organizational culture that is causing these symptoms to surface.  

To fully understand disengagement we first need to realize there are 3 employee classifications, according to Gallup; engaged, not engaged, and actively disengaged. Less than 31% of U.S workers were engaged in their jobs in 2014 and while it is easy to see the signs of an employee who is not engaged, actively disengaged employees tend to blend in as they are choosing this path, and just want to blend in.

There are a few telltale signs to look out for:

  • No initiative in employee performance
  • Unhealthy Activities
  • Silence can indicate a problem in the workplace
  • Lack of learning and lack of motivation
  • Wasted weekends

When we begin to look at our company culture and organizational culture we can start defining what the cause of this dissidence is. Systemic cultural issues can be due to:

  • Lack of challenge in the workplace
  • Lack of recognition
  • Lack of communication
  • Lack of trust 
  • Siloed teamwork 
  • Missing transparency

Disengaged employees sometimes need a spark. They are almost never bad employees, check out these 5 tips to reengage the disengaged.

1. How Might We 

Addressing a lack of challenge in the workplace can seem like a difficult task, but one easy shift a leader can make lies in reframing. The first step in this type of reframing is identifying themes and insights for your company. This sheds light on problem areas for clients and employees alike. Reframing the insights to include ‘How might we’ creates an opportunity for would-be innovators to freely share ideas openly because it is framed as a possibility rather than a perfected final product. Reframing to these 3 words suggests that a solution is possible and it opens the door for a variety of creative ideation and problem-solving. When we pose a question to the team in the form of ‘How Might We’ we are encouraging them rather than inhibiting them. This combats disengagement by inviting each member of the team to voice their ideas in determining the solution. Every idea is valuable, and when you create a psychologically safe environment for all voices to be heard, your team will be fully unleashed.   

2. Embrace Flexibility

The future of work is shifting, and with it many organizations are realizing that the traditional way we worked in the past, 9-5 in the office, may not necessarily be the best for unlocking teams’ full potential. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 50 million jobs are work-at-home capable. This means offering employees options for in-office, remote, or hybrid schedules is not only feasible, but it could increase positive productivity, and decrease the percentage of disengaged employees.  

Get Our Culture Cultivator

If we could do one thing to improve our company culture, what would it be? Use this worksheet to explore pain points, uncover opportunities, consider action steps and test an experiment aimed to improve the way things are.

Culture Cultivator

3. Employee Experience 

Understanding the expectations and needs of your employees is vital to a company’s team health. When we work to recognize employees on a deeper level we can begin to change the culture to one that is thriving with ideas. Transparency and psychological safety will elevate your team and pave the way for healthy interactions that are sure to combat disengaged employees. A critical organization system we utilize is our Employee User Manual. This document is intended to open up conversations company-wide, to ensure every employee has the ability to share preferences, growth plans, and core values. By leading teams with an exercise such as this, you are building a foundation of psychological safety, transparency, and trust.

4. Compassion and Empathy

As leaders, there has never been a better time to build meaningful relationships with employees and communities alike. Nurturing these relationships is key to keeping disengaged employees happy, productive, and satisfied with their work. 

“High-performing leaders of today are different. They’re empathetic, they think about people and society, and they really listen. There will always be financially-driven executives, but they’re getting pummeled and won’t be effective today,”

leading industry analyst, Josh Bersin.

Get Our Empathy Map

Utilizing observations or interviews, map out thinking, hearing, seeing, saying, and doing to identify the specific pain your user is feeling. This will help you identify specific things the user hopes could be accomplished.

Empathy Map

Empathy, ethics, and values lining up between leaders and teams has the potential to increase retention, cultivate ideas, and deliver a healthy work environment. 

5. Motivation and Talent

Disengaged employees may simply be lacking the recognition to develop their talents. It is reported that 69% of employers say they are struggling to find the talent that they need, but with a shift in organizational culture, that talent may be present and in need of a little nurturing to fully blossom. As Terry Lee outlines, there is great potential inside everyone. It’s up to great leaders to bring it out in four nurturing ways: 

  • Training 

Leaders should connect with their teams as they help them better understand their importance and the value they bring to the organization.

  • Connection 

 Leaders should connect with their teams as they help them better understand their importance and the value they bring to the organization. Every leader should understand their company’s mission and articulate that message to staff consistently and authentically.

  • Challenges

When team members complete meaningful tasks, they may receive an intrinsic reward. One way to amplify this reward is by talking to teams to determine what they think are the most important parts of their job. Then leaders can help them structure their day around tasks that give them a feeling of purpose.

  • Coaching

Team members need coaches to meet them where they’re at. They help staff identify what options they may have to reach goals and then set the appropriate challenges that lead them to success. 

Shifting Work Culture to Engage the Disengaged

At Voltage Control we believe that every team member has potential that is waiting to be released. We believe that change is necessary to remain relevant in the world of work, and through interventions and training, we can help leaders and teams unlock and unleash that potential. 

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