How to spot if your employees are disengaged

Posted in : HR Updates on 15 October 2019
Claire Loftus
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Engagement levels globally and in the UK in particular, are chronically low with as many as 92% being disengaged on some level whether that be ‘not engaged’ or ‘actively disengaged’. With these levels being so high it means the likelihood is you will be employing a least one person who isn’t delivering to their full potential. Claire Loftus from Evolve outlines five early identifiers of a disengaged employee.  

Of course, it can be obvious if you have someone in your team who is lethargic with a bad attitude and who manages to suck the enthusiasm out of everyone else around, with their moaning and complaining. But how can you spot them early on, before it starts to manifest in such a detrimental way?

Here are 5 early identifiers of a disengaged employee…

  1. They are delivering their job requirements and no more (if that). Don’t be fooled into thinking that achievement of targets means they are engaged, some individuals may still perform because of their own personal work ethic. Disengaged employees lack drive and ambition to deliver above the basic performance targets set. If you set a team competition to generate leads, they may not participate or if you ask them to take on an additional task or duties this may become an issue or a chore. 
  2. Uninterested. There is a lack of enthusiasm about the company and what is going on. They don’t know how their team, or the company overall is performing, or where you’re headed as a business.  They don’t ask questions or want to share insights, ideas or thoughts on competitors.  Curiosity is a positive trait, it demonstrates that they care about the bigger picture, they are motivated and want to develop.
  3. Missing. Disengaged employees have been found to take more time off work sick but you may also find that these are the people who also tend to be missing from the workplace for other reasons such as being late, disappearing off to run an errand/nipping to the loo, have dental, doctor or other appointments during working hours.  Whatever the reason they just never seem to be around.  Engaged employees tend to be the ones who will stay late to get the job done and come in early to make a start on the big ask.
  4. Unhelpful. Engagement sometimes gets described as the discretionary effort employees put into their work.  When people are disengaged, they don’t tend to do anything over and above their job requirements (see point1) but they can also be unhelpful.  They can create roadblocks for their colleagues which can cause conflict in the team but also when you are stuck and need someone to work an extra shift or stay late they never offer, they do the bare minimum in order to get by.
  5. Poor Quality, Errors or Accidents. Disengaged employees may lack just that little bit of extra care, meaning their quality might slip, errors being made, priorities overlooked, and deadlines missed. Or perhaps there are more accidents, breakages when they are on. Things just don’t run as smoothly.

It might disappoint to realise some of your team are disengaged.  However, one positive of being able to identify this is that you know you can do something to make a change. EVOLVE are the only NI provider of Engage & Grow programmes which can help you to create a change in your organisation, improving engagement levels and make a real tangible impact on your business.

This article is correct at 15/10/2019

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Claire Loftus

The main content of this article was provided by Claire Loftus. Contact telephone number is 07736 069481 or email

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