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7 Signs of Low Employee Engagement

One of the biggest challenges that plague most businesses today is keeping employees engaged. The success of a business can often be correlated to how engaged employees are. Employees that are excited about the work they do every day and invested in the mission of the company often outperform other workers and can in turn increase company profits. And the exact opposite can be true for workers that don’t feel invested in the company or see the importance of their daily tasks. 

There can be several reasons for low employee engagement, and leaders need to watch out for signs that employees are becoming disengaged. Unengaged employees can wreak havoc on a workplace. By proactively monitoring for the following signs of low employee engagement, businesses and entrepreneurs can implement engagement strategies to boost employee morale and foster a positive workplace environment. 


Decreased Productivity

A sure sign that an employee has disengaged from the workplace is they are not performing as great as they were before. If a worker has lost interest in their work, their performance will suffer. This may come as missing deadlines or producing lower-quality work than they typically do.

Disengaged employees are less likely to care as much about the output of the work they are contributing. They won’t continue to work at a high standard. If they work in a team setting, this could also negatively impact the others that collaborate with them. 

Of course, there could be other personal or outside reasons why performance may be declining. If an employee’s performance has taken a dip, leaders will want to speak with them about why this may be. The employee may need additional support or clarification on what their duties are. 


Lack of Enthusiasm

Another sign an employee is not engaged is they lack enthusiasm about the company and the work they are doing. They may not be asking as many questions about new changes or showing interest in new projects. 

If an employee doesn’t have any passion for what they are doing, it can drain their motivation and energy. The same is true if they do not see any importance in the tasks they work on daily. When this happens the employee is likely not going to be motivated to see the company succeed and work towards those big-picture company goals. 

Increasing employee motivation is an ongoing process. Be sure to evaluate your current efforts to see if there is something you can do differently. Perhaps your previous strategies have run their course and it is time for a new approach. Maybe your team is experiencing burnout and it is time to take a break. 

Whatever the cause, use the lack of enthusiasm as a sign that it is time to introduce new engagement methods. 

Increased Absenteeism or Tardiness

Taking more days off than normal, with seemingly no good reason, can also be a sign of disengagement. As well, if employees are coming late to work or meetings and leaving early. This can indicate they have a lack of commitment to the company and can hurt overall productivity. Low engagement in the workplace is one of the major causes of absenteeism.

Businesses need to cultivate a healthy work-life balance among employees so they can stay present at work. Having days off is important. However, if a trend of absenteeism continues, it can be a clear sign that an employee is not engaged with their work. Which means they are less likely to show up to work when scheduled. 


Reduced Interaction and Collaboration

Are you noticing some team members are not talking to other co-workers as much as before? Have they stopped commenting in instant messaging groups or meetings? If so, this is something you shouldn’t ignore.

Pulling away from team discussions and collaboration opportunities can be a warning sign of disengagement. When workers don’t feel they are part of the team or don’t have much to contribute they will often distance themselves. This is often because if they are disengaged from their work they aren’t taking time to think of creative solutions to work problems.

Engaged employees thrive on building strong working relationships and bouncing ideas off of fellow teammates. If an employee is, in contrast, isolating themselves, it will be crucial for a leader to look into why.

Speak to the employee candidly about their lack of interaction with others. Find out if there is a reason for the behavior change. Then, see if there is anything you can do to increase their interaction with others or solve the underlying issue. Hopefully, whatever may have caused the reduction in interaction is temporary. Be sure you facilitate that employees return to active participation and collaboration with the rest of the team.


Negative Attitude and Complaints

A negative and critical attitude is a telltale sign of a disengaged employee. If they feel like they aren’t being valued for the work they are doing, they can become quite critical of the company. 

They will often voice their frustration openly to other workers or managers, and this attitude can sometimes quickly spread to others. 

Leaders will want to quickly address any negativity in the workplace to make sure it doesn’t spread. Implementing ways to ensure employees feel appreciated, recognized, and heard can be an effective way to combat this from happening. 


Lack of Participation or Involvement in Work Activities

If an employee who often came to team happy hours or heavily participated in work-related activities is no longer finding interest in doing so can indicate they are no longer an engaged employee. Team building opportunities can be a valuable time to bond with team members, but disengaged employees will not find as much importance in building those relationships.

Employees that are disengaged will often do the bare minimum. They will not want to participate in any additional or outside work activities they are not required to do. The good news is there are things you can do to increase participation. This, in turn, will begin the process of increasing overall engagement.

  • Utilize Job Rotation: Exposing employees to different roles or tasks within the organization through job rotation can help keep work exciting and interesting. Job enrichment involves adding complexity and challenges to an employee’s role to increase their skills and keep them motivated.
  • Promote Cross-Functional Collaboration: Leaders can encourage involvement by organizing projects that require collaboration across different departments or teams. This not only enhances employees’ understanding of different aspects of the organization but also promotes diversity of ideas and approaches.
  • Empower Employees to Make Decisions: Granting employees autonomy in their work can foster a sense of ownership and responsibility. Leaders can encourage this by allowing employees to make decisions in their areas of expertise and trusting them to carry out their tasks effectively.
  • Organize Team-Building Activities: Regular team-building activities can foster collaboration, trust, and camaraderie. These activities can range from simple ice-breakers to more complex problem-solving exercises. Such activities can help increase involvement by making work more enjoyable and inclusive.


Increased Turnover or Disloyalty

A larger indication that a company has low employee engagement can be high turnover rates. One study finds that highly engaged workplaces see up to 67% lower turnover than workplaces with lower engagement.

Employee engagement and turnover are interconnected dynamics. Low employee engagement can be a significant contributor to high turnover rates. When engagement is low, employees are more likely to feel disconnected, unappreciated, or unsatisfied in their roles. If employees are not getting their workplace needs met they will seek opportunities elsewhere instead.

Also, high turnover induced by low engagement can create a cycle of instability in the workplace. As a result, the instability may lead to lower morale among the remaining staff. This means a business will need to put more time and effort into hiring new employees. Ultimately, this will escalate recruitment and training costs as new employees require time to acclimate and reach full productivity

Disengaged employees may feel that their skills aren’t being fully utilized. They may also feel that their effort isn’t recognized or that they’re lacking in opportunities for career growth. In contrast, engaged employees tend to show greater organizational loyalty and a heightened sense of job satisfaction. All of which will help keep your turnover numbers lower.


Recognizing the signs of low employee engagement can enable businesses to be proactive in cultivating a positive workplace environment where their employees thrive. Engaged employees are a driving factor for success and investing in their well-being and development can yield long-term benefits for any company.

Courtney Kovacs
Team Writer: Courtney Kovacs is a Texas based writer who enjoys writing about various topics such as entrepreneurship, travel, health and wellness, and faith.

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Team Writer: Courtney Kovacs is a Texas based writer who enjoys writing about various topics such as entrepreneurship, travel, health and wellness, and faith.

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