Did you know that 68% of today’s employees are disengaged?
Employee engagement isn’t an easy process. Supervisors often believe that the key to handling a disengaged employee is simply adding another ping pong table, happy hour event or new perk.
These small things might help a little, but they don’t paint a complete engagement picture. Genuine engagement is something companies have to approach holistically and individually.
The reality is that to create a truly engaged employee, companies have to think about the individual beyond the context of engagement: They have to think about the totality of their well-being.
The Undercurrent of Engagement Is Well-Being
The rapid shift to remote work and the unprecedented string of events in 2020 led to something Gallup called the wellbeing-engagement paradox. Generally, high work engagement correlates with greater well-being.
However, that wasn’t the case in 2020, and it’s not the case in the (almost) post-pandemic, remote world.
Reports of employee engagement hit a record high in May 2020. Simultaneously, well-being metrics dropped, with employees reporting higher levels of stress, burnout and worry. Mental health issues also hit a high. While much of these increases correlate to isolation, pandemic fears and political tensions, there’s something important to take away here.
Even as some companies are transitioning back to the office, many employees are still reeling from the effects of 2020. They’re more stressed out and nearing burnout, and it’s clear that there’s a long road to recovery and stability.
So, what are the best ways to support employee well-being and help an actively disengaged employee?
Re-Engaging With a Disengaged Employee
1. Learn How to Detect a Disengaged Employee
Before a supervisor can help a disengaged employee, they have to know how to spot them. The definition of employee disengagement is hard to pin down. In the simplest terms, a disengaged employee doesn’t enjoy their work and only puts in the bare minimum.
Some signs include low energy, absenteeism and a lack of enthusiasm. If employees are seriously disengaged, they can bring down team morale and cause more significant disruptions.
Supervisors chalk these traits up to a person being a lousy employee when often it’s a problem with engagement — a fixable issue. That’s why it’s so crucial to be able to detect disengagement for what it is.
2. Check the Common Causes
A disengaged employee is often a signal that something within an organization isn’t working. This is especially true if employee disengagement is a company-wide issue.
Some common causes of disengagement include:
Micromanagement and a lack of autonomy
Burnout and overwork
Lack of acknowledgment from team members or supervisors
Lack of career growth
Feeling unheard and unsupported by supervisors
Not being challenged enough
Poor communication and unclear expectations
Supervisors should evaluate their culture and see if it includes any of the common causes of disengagement. If so, working to fix those issues could do wonders for company culture and can help disengaged employees thrive.
3. Get to the Root of the Disengagement
To understand disengagement, companies have to get to the root of what’s causing it in the first place. However, simply asking a disengaged employee why they’re disengaged isn’t going to cut it. Supervisors have to build trust with a disengaged employee before they feel comfortable opening up about their work issues.
To build that trust, supervisors should make it a habit to ask the disengaged employee about their career and life goals. They should work to acknowledge their accomplishments and listen when the employees speak up.
It’s critical to recognize that the root of disengagement isn’t always rooted in work issues. Sometimes it’s about that person’s individual circumstances and stressors outside the building, which is why holistic well-being is so essential.
4. Lead With Empathy and Consider the Full Well-Being Picture
A person’s life outside of work will irrevocably impact their attitude and motivation at work. For instance, a single parent struggling to take care of two children and their ailing parents might find it hard to stay focused at work.
A single person who was isolated during the pandemic might be experiencing an uptick in mental health issues right now. In fact, 51% of workers have reported an increase in mental health issues since the beginning of the pandemic.
Supervisors should work to get to know their employees personally. This makes understanding their needs inside and outside of work much easier. When employers know a person’s needs and wants, they can help them achieve their goals and create more fulfilling and engaging work lives.
5. Burn Out the Burnout
Burnout and stress rates are high, and they’re only projected to get even higher. That’s why it’s important to look for signs of burnout in employees and offer solutions. Companies should move away from a culture that prioritizes the “hustle harder” mindset and into one that praises “self-care.”
Supervisors should consider offering more PTO and enforcing breaks and mandatory “no-email hours.” Additionally, supervisors should work to engage with employees without pushing them too hard. This is especially true for new-to-remote employees who tend to suffer from overwork.
Ultimately, the goal is to set manageable workloads and reasonable expectations. Then, learn to recognize when someone is nearing burnout and help them navigate away from the edge.
6. Provide Adequate, Individualized Support and Benefits
The pandemic has had disparate effects on individuals. Frontline workers might be experiencing peak burnout and steep financial hardships. Employees from various ethnic backgrounds might be facing intensified equity, diversity and inclusion concerns. Single parents might be overwhelmed with the new remote work norm.
Ultimately, employees need employers who will meet them where they are now and provide them the benefits and support they need today. To retain employees and keep them engaged, companies have to offer benefits that help make life’s struggles more manageable.
It’s about improving well-being and increasing engagement by looking at the person holistically and providing a means of enhancing their well-being.
An individualized lifestyle benefits platform like Fringe is the perfect solution. Companies can provide their entire team with individualized benefits, so employees get the benefits they need right now.