By Michelle Riklan
Employee engagement has been a hot topic among leadership circles over the last few years. It’s estimated that employee disengagement costs the U.S. more than $450 billion each year according to a Gallup poll. More than just monetary costs, disengaged employees can also negatively affect company culture and can drag otherwise engaged employees down with them. Employees are likely to share a bad experience with ten or more people, but will share a good experience with just three – meaning that disengaged employees who don’t care about your company or their work could be poisoning your company’s reputation.
Employee Engagement when a Team Needs to Reengage
But surprisingly, team disengagement isn’t always easy to spot. Below are four ways you can tell if it’s time to get your team re-engaged through team building events, frank conversations, or other methods of re-engagement.
1. Sometimes, stress in your office can be physically palpable, and is often manifested in teams complaining, putting longer hours in at the office than usual, or expected barriers that arise with clients or products. A healthy amount of stress and urgency about tasks can be good, but its long-term effects can be disastrous.
80 percent of Americans are stressed at work – but just because most teams are stressed out doesn’t mean that this should be the accepted status quo. Stress can disrupt brain cells and actually impair memory. If you’re seeing signs that your team is stressed out, it’s time to take action.
2. A lack of communication is a surefire sign that teams are disengaged. Teams that are collaborative, asking questions, and offering up suggestions for company or process improvement show that they are excited about the work at hand.
Conversely, teams that are glued to their desks, aren’t asking questions, and don’t offer to help or support their fellow team members are showing telltale signs that it’s time to help them re-engage.
3. Consistent cynicism and complaining are other signs of disengaged teams. The occasional complaint, venting session, or tough day is to be expected – and is probably even healthy. Your employees coming to you with a sporadic concern is a sign that they trust you to turn a listening ear.
But when complaints are offered on a more on-going basis about the same situations, and are given without offering any solutions or a drive to want to make something better, this is a more serious issue.
4. Disengaged employees are order-takers instead of proactive. Teams that are usually doing the bare minimum, don’t explore different avenues or ways of doing things, or are showing signs of just plain laziness are good signs that it’s time to get them engaged again.
These employees are detrimental to the rest of your team and the company as a whole. It’s best to act swiftly instead of sitting back and letting the consequences get worse.
Employee engagement is a real issue in the workplace that is better faced head-on than swept under the rug. Conversations about decreased productivity or performance with your team can be uncomfortable, but they are always necessary when these circumstances arise. To ensure your company’s success, look for these telltale signs of disengaged teams, and take action.
Michelle Riklan is president of Riklan Resources and an instructor for The Leader’s Institute® in the Northeast region. She is based in Trenton, NJ but she also teaches in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and other Northeast cities.