How to Fight Disengagement at Work

CoachHub · 18 November 2021 · 10 min read

What exactly is employee engagement?

First off, what does employee engagement mean? Employee engagement refers to the emotional connection a staff member has with their work, their team’s goals, and their company’s mission. Think about the most engaged coworker you know. How do they feel about their work?

In the context of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, engagement is precisely around esteem, love, and belonging, just before personal fulfillment. In our working life, once our basic needs are met (e.g. salary, security, comfort, etc.), we focus on engagement. It manifests itself in the desire to connect with something more critical and to feel fulfilled professionally.

The impact of employee engagement

Disengagement from work represents a significant cost that companies must face.

Indeed, a recent American study reveals that nearly 7 out of 10 employees are not at all engaged in their work, which would represent a loss of almost 350 billion dollars.

In Europe, almost a third of employees are seriously considering leaving their companies in the near future.

And that number has been rising steadily since the onset of the 2008 economic crisis.

However, this increase in the rate of disengagement from work is neither inexplicable nor irremediable.

If French companies grasp the disengagement factors, then they will be able to reverse the trend.

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An intensifying phenomenon identified by an employee engagement survey

A 2017 Gallup’ State of the Global Workplace’ study revealed that 90% of employees in Western Europe are not engaged in their work. By comparison, the United States has “only” 67% of work disengagement. This rate varies according to the positions occupied, so we see a higher employee engagement rate for the manager position. However, they remain 72% not engaged in their business.

However, companies that promote employee engagement are much more productive and profitable than others. And for a good reason, productivity would result from the addition of professional skills (interpersonal skills and know-how), clear operational objectives and commitment to work. In other words, motivation in the workplace and business performance go hand in hand. Moreover, demotivation has a cost because it leads to a drop in productivity and an increase in the rate of employee absenteeism (work stoppages) and turnover.

Factors that promote disengagement at work and examples of employee engagement

1. Lack of meaning

The meaning of work is an essential component of employee involvement and professional development. This meaning in professional life is then found in the alignment of the values ​​of the company with the personal values ​​of the employee, but also in the objectives and results behind each assignment. These two concepts contribute to loyalty and motivation for engaged employees.

2. Low pay

Successive crises have led to lower spending, a wage freeze and an increase in layoffs. All this at the same time as ever-increasing pressure and workload. But how can you be motivated to do better when the work environment and income do not change accordingly?

Employees then find themselves destitute, with the impression of being undervalued, of having their decision-making capacity reduced as a skin of sorrow and of no longer satisfying their customers. This drop-in morale then induces a drop in performance at work. As a result, employees are under pressure, which undermines their efficiency and, therefore, their productivity.

3. Lack of development prospects

Offering opportunities for growth within the organization is generally an excellent way to engage employees. And for a good reason, it gives a taste for surpassing oneself and avoids rooting in a work routine. To do this, you must therefore be aware of your employees’ ambitions to offer them a relevant professional skills development plan.

4. Lack of recognition

Recognition is a real motivation lever in business. But, and this is understandable if an employee is not thanked and encouraged for the work provided, it does not make them want to surpass themselves for the subsequent missions. As a leader or manager, you must therefore highlight the efforts and successes of your employees, whether through a thank you or a bonus, for example.

5. Bad working atmosphere

Team cohesion and understanding among colleagues are essential sources of commitment. Conversely, disagreements and conflicts hamper the quality of life at work, causing demotivation and disengagement of employees. To avoid this, the manager must have good conflict management, treat his employees on an equal footing, promote a culture of collective intelligence and organize team-building sessions.

6. Unrealistic workload

Empower your employees, absolutely, yes! Overload them with work, no. An overloaded schedule can lead an employee to burnout and stress. Likewise, too light a program can lead to a loss of meaning and strong feelings of disengagement. As a manager, you must, therefore, correctly estimate the working time of each employee to avoid leading to dramatic situations.

7. Obsolete management

The way a business is run strongly influences engagement or disengagement at work. Without human, participatory and trust-oriented management, there is little chance of having committed employees. Indeed, it is up to the local manager to motivate their employees, support them in times of doubt, and ensure a good atmosphere between colleagues. This then involves active listening, non-violent communication or even a focused leadership style.

How to find out how engaged employees are in your workplace

Are you unsure if your employees are actually disengaged? Luckily, there are several tried and tested ways you can easily implement to gauge just how motivated and inspired your team feels.

Use a survey to measure engagement

Highly engaged companies can measure engagement more often than other companies, and they are also more inclined to measure it more than once annually.

You can’t analyze it if you don’t measure it! Therefore, it is crucial to collect data related to employee engagement in order to understand where your team is at, know which areas need to be improved the most, and have a point of reference for future efforts.

If you haven’t already, run an employee engagement survey and ensure it’s both relevant and actionable. You could start with Gallup’s Q12 survey, which measures employee engagement based on 12 essential elements of their experience.

Are you looking for tools to carry out your survey? SurveyMonkey, Microsoft Forms, and Typeform are popular, inexpensive, and easy to use survey tools. Consider running quarterly or even monthly surveys about employee engagement. You can also use opinion poll tools such as Officevibe and Culture Amp, which will allow you to keep an eye on the situation on a more regular basis.

After collecting the responses (aim for 100% participation) and analyzing the data, share the results with your teams. Discuss trends and ideas, then determine where you need to put your resources based on the results. Make sure the survey is completely anonymous for accurate and honest results!

From a qualitative point of view, you could also try “presence interviews”, which are pretty much the opposite of exit interviews. However, presence interviews can proactively help you understand why employees stay and why they enjoy their jobs.

Factors to consider regarding employee engagement

Hired employees have a connection with:

The company

What does the organization represent? What is its role in the world – aside from making money? Does its mission strike a chord with your employees? Do they agree and identify with its mission?

The brand identity

Does your brand identity inspire feelings of pride in your team? Are your team members happy to discuss it with their friends and family?

Concrete employee benefits

What company benefits does the team receive? Do you provide a package of benefits to help your employees feel supported?

Effective leadership and management skills

Are managers in your organization consistently using effective communication practices? Are they transparent with expectations and quick to provide reliable feedback? Are performance expectations consistent across the board?

Does your team respect and trust their manager? Do your managers respect and trust their employees?

Do your managers pay close attention to the well-being of their team and its members, or do they regard it as a box-ticking exercise? Do they support employee and company goals and recognize their achievements?

The team

Are your employees’ colleagues determined to do a great job? Is there awareness and respect for what others are doing? Do colleagues support each other, or is there a culture of competition, of “every man for himself”? Does the team have a common goal?

Are team members generally receptive to new ideas and initiatives, or is the culture closed or conservative? Are our team members keen to work together and share best practices?

Their role

Are roles and responsibilities aligned with the interests, strengths and skills of employees?

Does their role put them in their area of ​​genius, which is what they do better and better than most? Are their skills being used well?

Do they feel their role makes an actual difference to the company?

Think about the answers to these questions, and you’ll listen to the key factors that play a role in grassroots engagement. But why is employee engagement so meaningful? Why work so hard to involve your employees? What does workplace wellness really mean for you and your business?

The benefits of engaged employees

Engaged employees offer many benefits to employers:

  1. Higher productivity

One study showed that highly engaged companies were 17% more productive than others. Engaged employees show dedication to the work they do and are motivated to work harder. As a result, they are able to concentrate and stay focused for more extended periods.

  1. Reduction of absenteeism

To complete daily tasks successfully and contribute in meaningful ways, your employees need to show up for work first. Companies with a high engagement rate have a low absenteeism rate. Excessive absence and sick days usually signal an engagement alert. Consistent attendance helps minimize gaps in work output and eliminates the effort required to pick up where employees left off.

  1. Decreased staff turnover, increased retention

There is much less turnover in highly engaged teams with high levels of workplace well-being . And in companies that already have a low turnover rate, these engaged companies show even more impressive results – with 59% less turnover. These reductions have a massive impact on the bottom line when you consider the costs of recruiting the right person in the first place.

  1. Improved customer relations

When your employees genuinely care about the organization’s success and are prepared to go the extra mile to achieve high-quality results, your customers will reap the benefits. Engaged companies report a 10% increase in customer satisfaction, coupled with a 20% increase in sales.

All of these add up to one crucial result: increased profitability – 21% more profitability, to be exact. If you want to take your business to the next level of success, effective employee engagement strategies will help you move the needle.

Coaching – the essential step if you are interested in learning how to improve employee engagement

The role of a manager to avoid disengagement at work is crucial. While many companies have long operated with stress management, we realize that this method is reaching its limits today. It is reactive rather than proactive.

From now on, the manager is at the heart of the development of individual and collective performance. To do this, he or she, first of all, must empower their teams. Indeed, an overflow of bureaucracy and control reduces the latitude one has to adapt to a particular situation. Therefore, the manager should focus on the skills required and empower all employees to reinvest them in a project.

In addition, the manager must support their employees. And that, as much on the moral and emotional level as on the instrumental level. The manager must be present to provide support.

In practice, this means distributing tasks fairly, listening, training committed employees, giving meaning to specific actions, being fair in your relationship with others, and expressing yourself clearly and precisely. All this helps to bring recognition that promotes mutual aid instead of competition within the same team.

To fight against disengagement at work, the manager can no longer be satisfied with setting operational objectives and monitoring results. Instead, they must be fully involved in improving performance and well-being at work.

But this know-how is not innate. A manager must be supported in order to develop soft skills essential to good management. To do this, managerial coaching is ideal. And this is precisely our core business at CoachHub. Through fully digital coaching sessions, we train your managers to improve administrative decisions and increase motivation at work. Use our psychologically-based coaching to motivate managers and employees, to improve productivity and performance and to enable managers to deal with challenges more confidently and effectively.

Look forward to enabling your team to grow to their highest potential. Discover more about the benefits of CoachHub coaching for free by clicking below.

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