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🚀 How To Motivate Disengaged Employees in 2024

By February 27, 2024 March 8th, 2024

Employee engagement is at the heart of every thriving business. Its effects on productivity, team building, and a strong company culture make it non-negotiable.

However, regardless of the advantages of employee engagement, employee disengagement has been at an all-time high of 85%, costing the global economy $8.8 trillion.

The massive decline in employee engagement shows a need to improve employee motivation by setting clear goals and enacting strategies to jolt workers back to life.

In the book Fostering Employee Engagement, Donna A. Dickson shared, “Engaged employees create and sustain organizational agility, and from lower turnover rates to higher productivity, the engaged employee is a valuable business asset.” Click To Tweet

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the root causes and signs of disengagement and the steps to motivate disengaged employees.

Who is a Disengaged Employee?

A disengaged employee currently lacks the drive and motivation to commit to their work.

While they might hand in satisfactory work, disengaged employees rarely do anything extra to impact a company’s bottom line positively.

 

What are the Signs of a Disengaged Employee?

The challenge with employee disengagement is that it spreads like wildfire. If unchecked, disengaged workers will gradually wear out engaged and loyal employees with excess.

This will lead to a massive decline in overall productivity and the strength of the company’s culture. Here are a few signs of a disengaged employee:

❗️Decreased Productivity

A decline in employee performance and productivity, despite feedback and efforts to get them going again, is a telltale sign of disengagement. Disengaged employees often miss deadlines, give intangible excuses, and hand in poor-quality work.

❗️Negative Attitude

Disregarding managers, team members, company policy, work lateness, disrespect to customers, and arguments with co-workers show that a worker is disengaged. This negative attitude can spill over to other employees, cause stress, and affect their mental health in and outside of the workplace.

❗️Poor Communication

A disengaged employee communicates poorly and sends unclear signals and cues regarding their position in company development and career development. Even one-on-one meetings with HR leaders are futile because disengaged employees rarely open up, thus making it challenging to offer them help and reengage them.

❗️Increased Absenteeism

Excessive time away from work without prior notice and habitual lateness show employee disengagement. Sometimes, absenteeism manifests as employees being physically present yet mentally logged out. As a result, they hand in poor-quality work and make avoidable mistakes.

❗️Increased Time Wastage

Habitually spending hours surfing the internet on topics unrelated to the task can hint at employee disengagement. It’s okay to take a short break to reply to a social media comment or post. However, it is worrisome when an employee spends time on entertainment rather than focusing on work.

 

Common Reasons That Employees Become Disengaged Employees

👉 Disengaged Managers

A disengaged manager is worse than a disengaged employee because of their positions of leadership and influence. Once a manager lacks the morale to keep going, his reports are the first to feel the hit. One-on-one meetings become unproductive, and criticism takes the place of feedback. Under such circumstances, even the most engaged employees will grow cold and apathetic towards work.

75% of employees who leave their jobs or display low levels of engagement say that it’s partly due to their managers or broader company leadership.

👉 Stunted Career Growth

Lack of growth opportunities is a leading cause of disengagement for most employees. More than loving the company culture, individuals join companies because of potential career growth opportunities, so they grow weary when they experience career stagnation instead. While some might not leave outright, they could become actively disengaged employees.

This research by Zavvy showed that 34% of employees who left previous positions did so because of a lack of opportunities for career development.

👉 Lack of Recognition

When employees are constantly sidelined and unappreciated, their morale is affected. It also causes them to see no reason to work hard at a job. It’s even worse when managers show favoritism and appreciate employees who don’t do the same amount of hard work. Recognized and appreciated employees generally have a higher drive to do more at work.

👉 Work-related Conflicts

Strained relationships between employees and their coworkers or managers can cause employee disengagement. Unfortunately, because of the uniqueness of individuals, conflicts can arise from the most trivial things. Employees who cannot take feedback properly might feel threatened by a call to do better and thus get into conflicts with their managers. Additionally, employees slacking off at work often feel threatened by hardworking employees and pick fights with them.

👉 Micromanagement

Micromanagement causes employees to lose the drive to take initiative on projects and become disengaged long-term. These employees often feel that their managers do not trust their capabilities and expertise due to excessive supervision. While micromanagement can work for some crucial projects, there are more sustainable methods of handling employees.

This research by Accountemps shared the experiences of employees with micromanagers. 68% said it had decreased their morale, and 55% claimed it had hurt their productivity.

 

Ideas, Activities, and Tools to Motivate and Connect Disengaged

  1   Set Up a Peer-to-Peer Recognition Program

Peer-to-peer recognition programs take the burden off managers by allowing employees to appreciate coworkers’ efforts. It also builds the company culture as employees who complement each other stay together and offer support to each other.

🚀 How this idea helps motivate disengaged employees: Co-workers share closer relationships than managers do. So, when a team member says, “Thank you so much for your hard work on this project,” it means more than when it comes from HR leaders.

Pro-tip: Using an employee recognition app makes syncing employees and appreciating coworkers easy. WorkTango is an ideal platform, allowing team members to give and receive appreciation in real time.

 

  2   Establish a Personalized Rewards System

Awardco-Culture

A system where individuals can choose rewards based on their preferences and needs is a great technique to motivate disengaged team members.

🚀 How this idea helps motivate disengaged employees: Rewards and gifts are a great way to touch the hearts of your employees. It reinforces that your company cares about their personal lives, well-being, and occasional desires. Employees who feel they’re not just another number on the payroll will have a higher drive to go the extra mile for their organization.

Pro-tip: Utilize Awardco to create a personalized rewards system where employees earn points for achieving specific milestones, participating in initiatives, or going above and beyond in their roles.

 

  3   Plan an Employee Wellness Challenge

Muddy Wingmen: Building bonds with mud, sweat, fitnessStep challenges at work, company retreats, office lunches, summer Fridays, and mindful Mondays are excellent employee engagement ideas. These ideas are based on the fact that a healthy workforce makes for a happy, engaged, and productive workforce.

🚀 How this idea helps motivate disengaged employees: Wellness challenges extend beyond the physical health of employees. Wellness challenges, including yoga and mindfulness, also cater to their mental health. Helping employees avoid burnout and exhaustion through wellness challenges gives them a renewed drive to give their best at work.

Pro-tip: Organize employee wellness challenges that encourage healthy competition and camaraderie among staff members. Cooleaf offers features to track progress on wellness goals, such as steps taken, mindfulness minutes, or hydration levels.

 

  4   Fund Professional Development Grants

professional-developmentProfessional development grants allow employees to upskill and gain professional knowledge.

🚀 How this idea helps motivate disengaged employees: Investing in the development of your employees shows your dedication to their growth and, as such, deepens their trust in the company’s leadership. The sense of progress and achievement employees experience when they surmount new challenges can reengage them and spark their enthusiasm at work.

Pro-tip: Bucketlist is a great platform to manage development grants, as it can be used to set up and track progress, milestones, and rewards, ensuring employees are motivated by the prospect of personal and professional growth.

 

  5   Solicit Employee Feedback & Take Action

Employee feedback is the perfect way to keep employees and managers aligned with company goals and project objectives. Without feedback and open communication, employees and managers are uncertain about what they’ve done excellently and what they can do better.

🚀 How this idea helps motivate disengaged employees: 94.7% of highly engaged employees feel their employer takes their feedback seriously. More than providing an avenue for recognition and follow-up, employee feedback makes workers feel heard. That’s because employee feedback isn’t a one-sided activity. It involves both parties—employees and managers—to constantly communicate, check in on projects, and share ideas regularly. It shows them that the company is interested in their efforts and willing to see them improve on the job. A positive work environment breeds engaged and passionate workers.

Pro-tip: WorkTango facilitates anonymous feedback, allowing employees to share their thoughts and feelings openly. Miro also has an array of templates for one-on-one meetings with reports.

 

  6   Contribute to Social Impact Initiatives

charityThe average employee seeks to create meaningful change in their communities but often lacks the zeal to kick-start. Investing in policies such as climate change, education, inclusivity, and diversity helps employees live beyond themselves and derive satisfaction outside of work.

🚀 How this idea helps motivate disengaged employees: Social impact initiatives give workers a sense of purpose beyond their day-to-day work. It also provides employees with opportunities for career growth and personal development. Companies that encourage their employees to pursue passion projects will likely attract top talent, retain them, and keep them engaged.

Pro-tip: Launch social impact initiatives where employees can nominate and vote for charities or community projects to support. Guusto can be used to reward employees with gift cards that can be donated to their chosen causes.

 

  7   Organize Regular Team Building Experiences

Encouraging team-building fosters deep connections among team members. This can come in place of projects, social impact initiatives, and weekend getaways—all done as a team.

🚀 How this idea helps motivate disengaged employees: Team-building experiences build trust among employees, and working on fun projects together increases engagement levels. Weekend getaway treats also help employees unwind after a hectic work week.

Pro-tip: Celebrate team achievements by rewarding a “MVP” of your team building competition.

 

  8   Foster Learning Opportunities

Nearly three out of every four employees are willing to learn things outside of work hours to improve their job performance. Training sessions, seminars, and self-paced courses help employees stay updated on industry trends and opportunities.

🚀 How this idea helps motivate disengaged employees: Learning new things can boost employees’ confidence in their abilities. Often, these employees who learn new things show renewed vigor and want to take on new company projects, initiatives, and leadership roles.

Pro-tip: Create a culture of continuous learning by providing access to online courses, webinars, and workshops. NectarHR can facilitate this by integrating with learning platforms and tracking the completion of courses, allowing employees to be recognized and rewarded for their commitment to personal and professional development.

 

  9   Build Performance-based Incentives into your Pay Structure

sales_incentivesPerformance-based incentives are transparent methods where employees are rewarded based on their contributions, regardless of the length of their stay. You can offer bonuses, stock options, compensation plans, and monetary incentives.

🚀 How this idea helps motivate disengaged employees: Underperforming employees are motivated to step up their game through performance-based incentives. Employees feel recognized when rewarded for their accomplishments and contributions to organizational growth.

Pro-tip: ADP‘s comprehensive HR solutions can track employee performance metrics, making it easier to administer these incentives fairly and transparently, thus motivating employees to achieve their best.

 

  10   Set Up an Employee of The Month Program

Recognizing an employee monthly involves highlighting the achievements and accomplishments of specific employees. This activity stirs up healthy competition among employees and promotes engagement.

🚀 How this idea helps motivate disengaged employees: Everyone has a bit of a competitive drive. So, the desire to be awarded as the employee of the month creates a burning desire in employees to give their best to work.

Pro-tip: Workstars can showcase the achievements of selected employees, sharing their stories and contributions with the entire organization.

 

  11   Provide Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexible work arrangements incorporate alternative work schedules such as job sharing, remote work, or compressed workweeks.

🚀 How this idea helps motivate disengaged employees: This idea caters to employees’ unique needs and gives them a better chance at work-life balance. Balanced employees enjoy job satisfaction, as well as increased engagement and productivity. Also, when workers see their HR leaders’ effort to ensure their comfort, they are motivated to pay it forward, causing a rise in engagement levels.

Pro-tip: Vantage Circle can highlight employees who effectively manage their productivity and work-life balance, serving as positive examples and encouraging a culture that supports flexibility while maintaining high performance.

 

  12   Send Spot Bonuses & Unique Gratification Rewards

Bonusly shark tank rewards

Instant gratification provides immediate encouragement for employees who’ve done well. Company swag, gift vouchers, a hot chocolate swag box, lunch cards, and an employee wellness care package.

🚀 How this idea helps motivate disengaged employees: A thoughtful reward can brighten an employee’s day and make them feel valued. Gratification rewards provide positive reinforcement for desired behaviors, encouraging disengaged workers to perform well. Finally, it engraves appreciation into the core of the company culture, promoting overall employee satisfaction.

Pro-tip: Bonusly’s platform is perfect for this, allowing for spontaneous recognition and rewards that keep employees consistently engaged and motivated.


People Also Ask These Questions About How To Motivate Disengaged Employees

Q: How can managers effectively identify disengaged employees?

  • A: Disengaged employees become increasingly absent, hand in poor-quality work, and disregard feedback. In extreme cases, they might usurp authority or actively undermine the actions of other employees to grow the company.

Q: How does employee disengagement impact team performance?

  • A: The strength of a team lies in the input of individual members. When one person is disengaged, others must bear the brunt of their slacking. Stress and an overall decline in team performance often result.

Q: How important is communication in re-engaging disengaged employees?

  • A: Open communication is where reengagement begins. Employees who genuinely share their feelings about work with their managers are more receptive to re-engagement activities and ideas.

Q: How can feedback and surveys be used to understand disengaged employees?

  • A: Organizations can utilize performance reviews, pulse reviews, anonymous surveys, and exit interviews to understand disengaged employees. These feedback and surveys point to the possible causes and cures of disengagement.

Q: How can personalized recognition improve employee engagement?

  • A: Personalized recognition significantly boosts employee engagement by making employees feel valued and understood on an individual level. When recognition is tailored to an employee’s specific contributions and work style, it reinforces their sense of purpose and belonging within the company. This individualized approach fosters a positive work environment, encourages continued excellence, and strengthens the emotional and professional bond between employees and the organization, leading to increased motivation, satisfaction, and loyalty.

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