Does it seem like your workers keep showing up late for a project? Are there constant excuses for why things aren’t getting done or why a project is finished incorrectly? If it seems like everything keeps going wrong within your team, the underlying problem might be a decreased level of employee engagement.

Why is employee engagement important for companies? As a business manager, you need efficient, focused employees if you want your team to be productive. Plain and simple, when employees aren’t fully engaged, they won’t put in their best work.

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If people aren’t interested in their work, more often than not they will do the bare minimum to earn their paycheck and clock out at the end of the day. But if they are passionate about their job or the company’s mission, they will put in extra hours and you’ll see the highest quality of work possible. For your company to succeed, you must find ways to support your employee engagement levels.

how to improve employee engagement

5 Signs of Poor Employee Engagement

So, what is employee engagement? And why is employee engagement important?

It is so much more than team members simply being focused or interested in their work. And before you can determine how to improve their engagement, you need to identify if you have a problem and how to measure this standard. Then, you can learn new ways to improve engagement within your company.

Here are five things to look for if you’re concerned about the level of involvement within your team, as well as an example for each that may trigger something you’ve seen within your own team.

1. Failure to Take Initiative

When your employees don’t care about their jobs, they also don’t feel obligated to take the initiative beyond their basic duties. They are simply trying to do the minimum amount of work possible to collect their paycheck each month. While they might do what you tell them to, they don’t care about taking your ideas to the next step or finding ways to improve them.

Their failure to take initiative may also mean the employee doesn’t seek out opportunities to learn or develop their personal skills. They don’t care about the company’s well-being, so they don’t want to learn or work toward a promotion. Because they don’t care about their jobs, they are unlikely to participate in company meanings, develop ideas, or trigger big-picture discussions.

Example: Your star performer normally jumps on an opportunity to lead a sub-team in completing a project. This time, he didn’t raise his hand or volunteer for anything. When you deliberately asked him to lead the sub-team, he seemed put out by the idea of it.

2. Attendance Issues

On occasion, it feels impossible to quantify employee engagement problems. After all, how do you calculate someone’s excitement and enthusiasm, especially if they’re good at pretending? Thankfully, there are a few quantifiable signs you can pay attention to that may help identify engagement issues.

Attendance problems and missed deadlines are easy ways to see how engaged your employees are. Have any of your team members been frequently missing work or due dates? Do they leave early, take extended breaks or arrive late?

All of these attendance issues are a sign your employees aren’t motivated or enthusiastic about their jobs. If someone is having attendance issues, it can immediately reflect on their work ethic while also inhibiting other team members to conduct their jobs effectively. When multiple employees are showing up late, it’s an even more clear indicator of disengagement.

Over time, this level of disinterest can harm your bottom line. It results in decreased productivity, poor work quality and missed deadlines.

Example: Tom used to be the first person into the office each morning. Now, he shows up mere seconds before he is required to if he’s on time at all. He is also leaving early and barely gets back from his breaks on time.

3. Social Withdrawal

People spend a significant portion of their adult lives at work. It’s only natural for your employees to make friends with their co-workers. When employees are unwilling to form friendships at work, it’s an early sign of disengagement.

Often, employees will stop interacting socially before their work performance actually suffers. This lack of interaction is a red flag for how the employee feels about their job. Spending a great deal of time alone, avoiding company social functions, and not contributing to staff meetings are all signs of a problem.

Teamwork requires co-workers to collaborate with each other. This collaboration is important for your company’s creativity and productivity. If your team members are going through social withdrawals right now, it indicates the potential for future problems with disengagement.

Example: When you were first hired as a manager, everyone chatted at company potlucks and made plans for getting drinks each Friday. Now, employees simply disappear as soon as the clock hits 5 o’clock. It seems like no one is interested in seeing each other outside of work anymore.

4. Changes to Routine Habits

When it comes down to it, people are true creatures of habit. We talk to the same people, eat the same things, and go to the same places each day. If someone breaks from their routine, it is a possible sign of a problem.

This is especially true for your top performers. If an exceptional employee suddenly misses a deadline or begins coming in late, something is going on. You’ll want to investigate the problem early to see if the star performer is becoming disengaged.

If an employee seems distant, make time to talk to them. They may be confused about a potential project or could be having problems at home. You can also encourage team members to support them or host a team outing.

Example: Sandra has always been your top performer who turns in her work days or weeks before it is due. This time, her project was barely completed by the deadline, and you have also noticed she no longer seems interested in talking to her co-workers. It seems like Sandra is no longer interested in her job.

5. Avoiding Work

While some employees will show up late or leave early, other employees simply avoid work altogether when they are disengaged. They may wander away from their desk or spend more time at the water cooler. Disengaged employees may spend more time in the bathroom or getting their workstation set up when they arrive.

Many disengaged employees will wander away from their desk or work site and be gone for long periods. They might spend more time in the bathroom or more time on their lunch break. They may even take extra breaks or wander aimlessly around the room to avoid working.

Another way to tell if your employees are disengaged is by the number of sick days they take. Calling in sick on Friday or Monday is especially common among disengaged employees who can’t handle the thought of their weekend ending. All of these signs occur because the employee wants to avoid their responsibilities and do anything other than their job.

Example: Jonathan never took a sick day in 10 years. Now, he seems to have a surprising number of colds on Monday morning, but he seems perfectly fine when he actually shows up to work on Tuesday. Whenever he is actually at work, he spends most of his time getting more coffee or water and very little time getting anything done.

How to Improve Employee Engagement

Wondering how can you improve the engagement of your team members? There are a number of employee engagement ideas for boosting enthusiasm and productivity in the workplace. If you are struggling with engagement levels at your office, the following ideas are great places to start.

Take a Survey

Before you can increase employee engagement, you need to figure out if you have a problem or not. If you are struggling to learn how to measure employee engagement, what you need to do is create an anonymous survey. An employee engagement survey will help you see if your employees are excited about their jobs and what you can do to improve morale.

Lead From the Top Down

When you have a team project, always pick the right managers. Good managers understand how their success is directly linked to their employees’ achievements. A truly great manager understands each employee’s strengths and weaknesses.

Effective leaders also help to empower employees to do more. They provide recognition for the team members’ hard work and asks for everyone’s input. Finding great leaders for your teams isn’t an easy task, but it is one of the most important things you can do for increasing engagement.

Be Transparent 

There is a significant correlation between transparent management and happy employees. By giving employees additional information and sharing your vision, you show how much you trust them. This also makes your employees feel more invested in the company.

Transparency and communication help to break down the “us versus them” barrier many managers and employees face on a daily basis. As a result, you can enjoy having more cooperative employees and better teamwork.

There are many different ways to boost transparency. One of the best employee engagement ideas is to give people more control over their schedules and workflow. This empowers your employees and allows them to understand the big picture.

In addition, offering transparency in scheduling gives you an easy way to see your team’s progress. Tools like Teamweek help you track your employees’ progress and guide their workflow through an easy-to-use platform.

Practice Gratitude

Another simple way to learn how to improve employee engagement is to show gratitude for a job well done. Say “thank you” to your employees when they put in the extra effort. While being thankful is free, it has a remarkable effect on employee morale.

When people feel like their work is appreciated, they are more likely to put in the extra effort. If an employee has a supportive supervisor, they tend to stay with the company and feel engaged in their position.

Improve Your Employee Morale and Engagement

As a manager, you only have so many team members to help on each project. By boosting employee engagement, you can increase the productivity of each team member and get more work done. In addition, you are less likely to spend valuable time and money replacing burned-out employees.

Start by engaging your employees from the first day you hire them. Plan social events for employees, show your gratitude and offer flexible workflows. Through the right engagement ideas, you can get your team excited about working together on each project.

And if you want to read more articles about how to keep your team engaged and improve productivity, make sure you check out the Teamweek blog!

Logan Derrick

Logan Derrick

Logan Derrick is a full-time business writer and content marketing strategist. For years, he has worked closely with several project management professionals, learning from them and increasing his own knowledge of the industry. Having held multiple management positions in fields ranging from customer service to marketing, Logan has found a passion for helping others learn about project management, marketing, and the powerful tools available to professionals today.
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