6 Tips for Improving Employee Disengagement

Employee disengagement has become a hot topic - mostly because companies know how much it costs them. According to McKinsey, a medium-sized S&P 500 company could see losses in the hundreds of millions per year from employee disengagement. And make no mistake, this disengagement is occurring at your business right now, no matter how good of an employer you are.

Why are Employees Disengaging?

To solve the problem, we have to consider how it started. During the pandemic, most office workers got used to working from home and enjoyed the luxury of grace when it came to expectations and deadlines. Unsurprisingly, many liked working without the high levels of anxiety that may come from a lengthy commute, gas prices, work clothes, and other office stressors. 

As offices opened back up and work got back to what business leaders considered “normal,” staff pushed back. The “Great Resignation” seemed to bolster their cause and for a brief period of time post-pandemic, employees called the shots. 

The tables, however, have turned. Now, layoffs are decimating entire sectors such as the tech industry, causing anxiety and giving rise to higher variability in employee engagement.

Employee Engagement Archetypes

There are six key groups, or archetypes, of employees defined by McKinsey according to their levels of engagement. In order of least engaged to most, these are: 

  • Quitters - 10%
  • Disrupters - 11%
  • Mildly Disengaged - 32% 
  • Reliable and Committed - 38%
  • Rising Stars - 4%

The real productivity killer lies with the mildly disengaged group. Your business is likely losing the most money from this archetype, the second-largest segment. On a positive note, they are more likely to improve compared to a quitter or disrupter. 

If you can address the top causes of employee disengagement, you may be able to move them into the “Reliable and Committed” group, and you may even be able to address the concerns of the worst of these archetypes.

Six Top Drivers of Disengagement

McKinsey surveyed just over 15,000 workers in seven countries to identify what’s causing dissatisfaction at work. 

The top causes of disengagement, in descending order, are:

  • Lack of adequate compensation - 12%
  • Lack of meaningful work - 12%
  • Lack of workplace flexibility - 11%
  • Lack of upward mobility and career development - 10%
  • Unreliable and unsupportive people in the workplace - 9%
  • Unsafe work environment - 9%

The top two factors were a tie - lack of meaningful work and lack of adequate compensation. In challenging economic times, employers may not be able to raise salaries, but they can certainly offer more meaningful work. It’s actually an easy problem to solve - ask employees what work they prefer to do, and try to give them more of it. If no meaningful work exists for an employee, then why is their role necessary? 

Lack of workplace flexibility is a big one, and its importance may be a direct result of stripping away the flexibility workers got used to during the pandemic since many organizations and leaders are now forcing a return to the office. Improved flexibility could mean more work-from-home days or different work hours, among other things. 

The bottom two causes of disengagement were also tied, and are related. If a person feels emotionally, mentally, or physically unsafe at work, they are understandably not going to want to be there. This is where human resources can consider putting more effort on reforming work culture so that workers do feel supported and safe. Likewise, they can help employees with another one of the key factors, career development and growth. 

The key isn’t to solve the problem of disengagement - staff aren’t always going to give their all 100% of the time. None of us can. The trick is to move the needle slightly so that disengagement is less likely.

More engagement means more productivity. But how do you measure productivity? Prodoscore is an employee productivity monitoring solution that gives managers a non-invasive way to get the full picture of how much their employees are doing. Contact us for a demonstration today!

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