The DISengaged vs the UNengaged employee

unengageed employeeA report from Gallup shows that a staggering 63% of employees today are ‘not engaged’ in their jobs and that more than a quarter (24%) are ‘actively disengaged’.

Shocking! But these statistics don’t answer a key question on the lips of HR professionals and business leaders across the globe. Can those employees who fall into these categories be swayed in favour or their employer once again or are they a lost cause?

In order to make improvements, companies must first understand the true nature of employee engagement and determine which employees are UNengaged vs those who are DISengaged.


The Unengaged Employee

  • Doesn’t care about the company they work for and never has
  • Is not emotionally invested in the success of the company
  • Works only for the money
  • Has no enjoyment or job satisfaction
  • Does the bare minimum
  • Has a long term issue – this is not due to recent changes

Unfortunately these employees are a drain on company time and resources. With almost no motivation, they can be very difficult to work alongside. It is likely that only a radical change or restructure within their working environment would instigate any sort of positive action or response from these employees.


The Disengaged Employee

  • Was previously motivated and keen to work but has lost their drive
  • Has suffered a loss of confidence through lack of respect or trust with/of management
  • Could be motivated by additional training or one on one time
  • Would work harder if their efforts were recognised
  • Has the potential to be a good worker once again

When employees efforts and contributions aren’t recognised it is natural for them to feel as though they are making little impact on an organisation. However, the disengaged employee is not such a long term situation as the unengaged, as by implementing small changes it is likely this employee would quickly re-engage.


Making the Change

disengaged employeeWork should be fulfilling for every employee. Engaging their mind and making sure the tasks are not too repetitive. Boredom accounts for measurable levels of decreased productivity, so by making sure there is variety and room for creative input, employees will feel that they are offering a useful contribution to the company.

Employee recognition is a key contributing factor to better output for an organisation. Ensuring your business has an effective rewards and recognition scheme which is respected by all levels of staff – including management – is key to motivating your workforce.


As good as it is to start utilising reward and recognition schemes, there are numerous other factors involved with improving employee engagement…

Communication with employees allows them to voice their opinions, as well as providing the employer with vital feedback to help improve overall satisfaction. Routes for progression, training, a feeling of worth and strong peer-to-peer and Manager-Employee relationships all contribute.


At the end of the day, not every employee is going to suddenly become highly engaged because of a change in management style or a new scheme being instigated by HR professionals. However, if the working atmosphere is more positive to begin with, then fewer employees should slip through the net.


You can find out how much employee disengagement is costing your organisation by using our online calculator >>


John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.
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