Re-engaging Disengaged Employees

Oceanic Pharmachem Private Limited (OPPL) believes that by tuning in to early signs of employee tune-out,managers can help cut turnover, stabilize productivity and maintain morale.

Engagement within the workplace is steadily becoming chronically low across the globe. Simply put,an increasing number of employees are doing everything they can to remove any form of emotional connection they have with the company. Just like dissatisfied customers, disengaged employees will manifest into loss of business, due to low productivity and a poor work quality.

Employees can be basically classified as:

ENGAGED: Such employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to the organization. They drive innovation and move the organization forward.

NON-ENGAGED: Such employees are essentially disconnected. They while through their workday, putting time – but little energy or passion – into their work.

ACTIVELY DISENGAGED: Such employees are not just unhappy at work, but busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged co-workers accomplish.

Signs of Disengagement:

* Employee stops offering suggestions and contributes less in meetings
* Employee is negative or indifferent to co-workers’ ideas
* Employee hesitates to volunteer for projects
* Employee make less eye contact and takes longer breaks
*The absenteeism and tardiness of employee increases, along with       criticism of the organization

Employee disengagement is usually contagious and spreads quickly within the organization. As per experts, the best strategy is prevention and managers who maintain good relationships with their employees are more likely to keep them engaged. Talking to the employee in the early stages of disengagement, like change in performance, while stressing concerns for the success of the employee,
creates a big impact and helps pull disengaged employees back from the edge

Some of the proven ways to re-engage disengaged employees are listed as follows:

* Talking less, while listening more

Most disengaged employees have plenty of potential, but feel that their voices are not being heard.Managers and HR leaders must therefore talk less and instead ask questions, about new, different ideas and encourage feedback in open forums such as office meetings. When acting on employee suggestions, HR has to make sure the changes are attributed first hand. Accepting diversity of ideas and thought, while showing an interest in employee say are more likely to keep them engaged.

* Reassuring support

Employees often withdraw from work when they feel have been left entirely to their own selves. Reminding staff that they are being watched, their progress monitored, their contributions supported and that the organisation is taking an active interest in everything they are doing for it, makes a big impact.

* Reducing clinical performance metrics and reviews

Using a scorecard to grade performance within the workplace is morale destroying for both the manager and employee. Key performance indicators are valuable, but they are regularly rendered ineffective by honest and open one-to-one discussions. Review meetings must be about reconnecting and listening, requiring honesty on both parts, and if the manager uses the opportunity to understand
disengaged employees, a plan can be devised to solve the root cause of their unhappiness.

* Setting goals and expectations together

If an employee has lost focus in the workplace, the HR manager can always refocus attention by discussing and setting goals together, while introducing a new work deadline. The employee can gain a buy-in and provide something tangible to work towards, instead of simply floating through the organisation without purpose. Employees, unless motivated by going solo, will quickly become disengaged – particularly if there are no clear set goals. Communicating the expectations regularly, while ensuring the employee is a part of the decision-making process, is an important step. Also, setting unrealistic performance goals and not making sure that employees with right skill and training are in the right job slots, can be deterrents.

* Appreciating all contributions

The most cherished times at work for employees happen to be those where a particular win or success resulted in high praise from those above. HR Managers must make an effort to appreciate all achievements and contributions, big and small. This will help in demonstrating how much the employee means to the business. Recognizing, acknowledging or rewarding employees’ contributions
to the organization’s success in front of all staff will boost morale and continuously ignoring employees’ victories will feed disengagement

* Involving employees on the big picture

A disengaged staff usually complains about a lack of knowledge of the goings-on in the organization. Detailed knowledge on the business strategy/ direction and cash flow performance may not be important to divulge, but providing a basic understanding of the top-end goals and aims of the company will help them re-engage. Sharing every piece of news related to the business is important;
good news will aid their engagement, while the bad news will remind that difficult subjects are not hidden. This can be done in regular staff meetings by giving an insight into the board decisions, sales focus, growth projections, market conditions and competitors. Unveiling important details and giving every staff member the opportunity to voice their opinion will help employees become more involved
in the organization’s growth

* Creating a culture of opportunity

Boredom arising out of work is one of the biggest reasons behind employee disengagement, and it usually stems from being stuck in the same daily routine that rarely changes. Mixing up the staff working days by occasionally arranging field visits, introducing free week times to work on extracurricular projects related to the business and offering creative opportunities at every turn will help turn around employees to value the company.

* Allowing flexible working hours

The age of 9-to-5 working weeks is gradually fading with workforces swapping traditional hours and working locations for flexitime and home offices. If the nature of business allows it, giving people the opportunity to work from home and customise their working hours, can reduce the severe debilitating regularity of the working week. Creating a dynamic workplace will improve levels of engagement.

* Uncovering hidden talents

Disengaged employees may be hiding talents that could transform the business. Usually, the very reason they feel disconnected is that they are unable to let their true flair shine. Informal chats can uncover a wealth of opportunities lying dormant amongst the existing staff base. Discovering hidden talents by giving an opportunity to reveal their passions will help feel appreciated.

* Seeking customer feedback

Customer satisfaction is a direct measure of employee contributions in making customers happy. By seeking out success stories of customers and sharing those with the entire company will help the disengaged staff see the positive effect their work is having on people outside the confines of the business, thus rebuilding engagement.

* Encouraging problem-solving & decision-making

Usually, front-line staff are capable of brilliant problem solving, but unfortunately, such creativity is often hampered by the processes they have to go through in order to resolve customer complaints or unusual requests. If a chain of command has to be queried before a solution can be delivered, the employees dealing directly with customers will quickly tire of the red tape. Encouraging problem
solving and decision-making, while regularly rewarding ingenuity will ensure high levels of engagement.

* Promoting honesty

Mistakes made in the workplace are absolutely inevitable. Instead of reprimanding for making a mistake, management should embrace mistakes, while continually reminding staff that the lesson learned is adhered to. Similarly, sharing responsibility for success, and for mistakes will enable employees respect the organization. Integrity of speech and action is equally important for building
employee trust.


Disengaged employees are not lost causes. If just few of the working practices above are implemented, there is a far greater chance of developing a staff base that is emotionally engaged, creative and unafraid to make its voice heard and of making the company a very good place to work in.