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By now I’m sure you’ve read at least a little bit about employee engagement—the benefits, engagement strategies, and creative ideas— but you might not have heard much about disengagement. You might think that disengaged employees are just employees who are not engaged, right? That’s sort of true, but there’s more.

 

Disengaged employees give little effort to their jobs. They don’t care about employee performance or development, they don’t like going to work, and they likely spend time on social media or use other distractions on the job.

 

Based on this, it might seem like disengaged employees are easy to find and correct. While this may be true for some, the task can be more challenging than it sounds. To help you develop a better understanding of disengaged employees and how to prevent disengagement, check out these common misconceptions.

 

You can tell which employees are disengaged because of their poor performance.

Often poor performance is a good indicator of a disengaged employee, but good work is not necessarily a sure sign of an engaged employee. A job well done can be an indicator of a strong personal work ethic or an exceptional talent. These talented employees may perform well, but they can still lack motivation within the company—not caring about the company’s goals and culture, not accepting additional assignments, and just doing the job for a paycheck.

 

What causes this disengagement in these talented employees? Many disengaged employees are lacking a challenge to work at or are in the wrong position. Success can only be achieved with opportunity and encouragement. If someone has strong skills in graphic design but is stuck in an accounting job, will they be motivated to perform their best as an accountant? It’s not likely.

 

Disengaged employees are lazy.

Boredom and a lack of motivation are two big reasons why disengaged employees come across as lazy. Many attribute this to a leadership issue. As mentioned before, employees can find themselves in a role not suited to their strengths and interests. Good leaders in the workplace should interact with employees to learn about their goals and to monitor their success. By getting involved, company leaders can work to engage employees from the start.

 

You can use employee engagement strategies to combat disengagement.

Before you can make employees happy and engaged, you have to eliminate what’s making them unhappy and disengaged. Underchallenged and under-stimulated employees won’t become engaged because of your pizza party or office fitness challenge like your other employees. First, you need to find out what it is that makes them unsatisfied and try to amend it (e.g. giving them special projects to work on). From there you can employ your regular employee engagement strategies as you continue to work to dissipate the disengagement.

 

The best way to solve the problem of disengaged employees is to never let it happen in the first place. The only way to do this is to communicate openly and often with your employees. Tackle your disengagement issues today so you can move forward with a happy, productive team from now on.

 

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