Why Your Employees Aren’t Engaged

Feb 08, 2023 7 Min Read

Photo by Shubham Dhage @ unsplash

Remember that 'employee disengagement' is a growing problem.

Most employers understand just how critical employee engagement is. It can reduce employee stress, ensure greater employee commitment, reduce stress, and provide many other significant benefits for both employers and employees. 

However, less than one-third of the American workforce said they are engaged, and the share of actively disengaged workers is rising. By understanding why your employees aren’t engaged, you might stand a better chance of rectifying the issue. 

Explore: Don’t Underestimate the Impact of Disengaged Employees

You Aren’t Paying Them Well Enough

You can come up with some great ideas for increasing employee engagement, but if financial compensation is the cause of your employee disengagement, fun games won’t solve the problem. Consider whether salaries and wages keep up with inflation and are on par or better than your competition can offer. If you’re unsure whether your pay rates are competitive, browse online job listings with similar companies and compare average market salaries. 

If you can’t match what other businesses offer, think about the perks you can provide to make up the difference, such as retirement funds, health insurance, and bonuses. Failure to address this issue early might result in your most valued employees seeking employment elsewhere. 

Leaders Don’t Communicate

A lack of communication is one of the most common complaints about leaders within a management team. Employees can become frustrated when managers don’t meet with their employees, provide feedback, support, and recognition, and even offer clear directions in their daily work. 

While many of the best employees are self-motivated and can achieve their business goals without input, not having guidance from someone in charge of a business can be demoralising and disheartening. As a result, many employees disengage, put in minimal effort as a form of ‘quiet quitting,’ and eventually move on to companies that provide them with what they need for workplace satisfaction. 

This may interest you: Is Quiet Quitting Real?

person in black suit jacket with r ed bag walking beside metal fence

If leaders don’t have natural leadership skills, it can be vital to develop them for the benefit of their team. Sometimes, improving the leadership qualities of a management team can be as straightforward as identifying strengths and weaknesses to know where to begin, attending leadership training, and finding a mentor. 

They’re Overworked

Employees expect to fill their days with the tasks you assign, but they typically don’t expect to be overworked to the point of burnout, putting in overtime and working more than their contract hours. 

white pennant on brown surface

Several problems can contribute to employees being overworked, such as short staffing and intentionally inadequate staffing levels to keep costs low. While business owners might like to maximise output to increase profits, it can sometimes be at the expense of their employees’ happiness and well-being. 

Read more: How To Spot When An Employee Is Secretly Struggling

Many employees can show signs of burnout, giving employers plenty of time to make changes before their productivity levels and retention rates drop. They might disengage or withdraw from their work, take frequent time off, become sick often, and contribute to an overall more negative workplace culture.

Fortunately, solving the problem of overworking your team can often be straightforward. You might hire more employees to share the load, invest in technology to automate tasks and outsource jobs to remote employees

They’re Not Getting Ahead

Some employers advertise roles with key phrases like ‘room for growth’ and ‘ongoing training and education.’ When such remarks are made, prospective employees might assume they can grow within a company, receive promotions, and reach new rungs on their career ladder. 

Supplementary reading: How to Overcome Feelings of Helplessness

Some workers are happy to perform the same tasks daily, but others want to progress and reach their full potential. If you don’t provide these opportunities to get ahead, they might seek work opportunities elsewhere. 

Business managers might be able to stop employees from leaving in search of better opportunities by providing ongoing education and training opportunities to help them work their way up the ranks in the company. 

Companies Won’t Change

Consumer wants and needs change, and the most successful companies and businesses often adapt to suit the needs of both their consumers and their employees. If a company isn’t willing to evolve and adapt, even when it’s going to lead to increased happiness and satisfaction levels, it can often result in discontent and disengagement instead. 

brown wooden blocks on white surface

Business owners must keep their fingers on the pulse of culture shifts and industry advancements to remain relevant and ensure employees are proud of the business they work for. Some of the most critical changes companies can make to foster better engagement include equity and diversity, environmentally-conscious decision-making, and technological advancements for productivity and reduced manual labour. 

They Don’t Get What They Want

Employers will never be able to satisfy all employee needs. Pay rises won’t always be possible in tough economic times, and vacation days won’t always be granted when multiple employees want time off at once. 

However, it’s not uncommon for employees to request things within their managers’ power only to be denied what they desperately want or need. For example, some employees would enjoy the flexibility and convenience associated with remote work, and their job type makes that a possibility. Some employers, not wanting their team to work outside the office, deny the request. 

Employees can feel disgruntled and unhappy when a request is denied for no other reason than to avoid a structural change. They might then find a company willing to give them what they want and leave the company altogether. 

yellow and black smiley wall art

In such situations, there may be value in compromise. You might not be able to give your employees exactly what they ask for, but you might be able to provide them with something similar. For example, instead of approving the request of an employee to work remotely, grant them part-time remote work so they can avoid a commute and enjoy flexibility for part of the working week. 

They Don’t Like Their Job

It’s not always about management teams, a company, or other employees. Sometimes, a job seeker can be successful in their bid to be hired, only to realise they don’t like the company they work for or their job role. 

Auxiliary reading: 4 Things To Do When You Don’t Love Your Job Anymore

An unhappy employee is typically not a productive or engaged one, and this can have a detrimental impact on a business. In this case, business managers can speak with that person, find out what’s causing their disengagement, and potentially solve the issue. In many cases, the employee in question part ways with the company and works somewhere else. 

Employee disengagement is a growing problem, often related to the issues above. By identifying the most common causes of workplace disengagement, you can sometimes be in a powerful position to rectify the situation and retain a happy, loyal, and productive workforce.

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Drew Schwartze is part of the HR team of a Forbes 500 company. She writes guest posts and blog articles about employee wellness. She is passionate about making workplaces enjoyable for employees for higher job satisfaction and retention rates. In her free time, she creates new salad recipes using what she's growing in her rooftop garden.


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