4 warning signs of a disengaged employee

Apathy, moodiness, and poor performance are symptoms. The author offers a simple yet effective remedy.

The world is an unhappy place when you don’t like your job.

Job dissatisfaction is the gateway to disengagement, disengagement leads to lowered performance, and lowered performance affects your bottom line.

When employees are disengaged, they rarely verbalize it to a manager—which is a problem. Managers must not only recognize the nonverbal cues of disengagement, but also take steps to re-engage the employee.

4 signs of employee disengagement

How can you tell when an employee is unhappy? The warning signs are obvious:

  • An “I don’t care” attitude—Coupled with their lower productivity, employees who illustrate less interest or care for their work or their organization’s overall mission are probably disengaged.
  • Increased tardiness or absences—An employee exhibiting a pattern of tardiness or absences is probably disengaged, indicating a decreased motivation to complete tasks—or he or she might be looking for a new job.
  • Declining quality of work—Failing to meet deadlines or meeting deadlines with sub-par work on a regular basis shows that an employee is less committed, especially if you know that person to be capable of better performance.
  • Permanent mood swings—A once happy employee who slips into a persistent negative attitude might be having personal trouble or might be disengaged. Either situation is detrimental to the workplace and must be addressed.

Putting them back on the road to happiness

Realizing the first signs of discontent can help you identify a disengaged employee and take steps to get him or her back on board-starting with engaging the employee on a personal level.

It’s important for the manager to be a good listener in these discussions, as unhappy employees may find it awkward to air their grievances, or they may fear repercussions for speaking up.

Make them feel safe from those things, and have a candid conversation that gets to the root of the issue – it will put them back on the road to happiness.

Cord Himelstein is the VP of marketing and communications at Michael C. Fina, A version of this article first appeared on the Michael C. Fina blog.


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