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Signs of a Disengaged Employee. Are They Quiet Quitting?

Oct 19, 2022
3 min read
Employees must be motivated and engaged to perform well. Here's how to identify disengaged employees and tips for how you can re-engage them in their role.

A disengaged employee is someone who usually doesn’t enjoy their work, and as a result, does the bare minimum, doesn't put in extra effort, and is highly unlikely to be a company evangelist. Some people have also been referring to this as quiet quitting your job. Quiet quitting not only costs a team time and efficiency, but can cost companies a lot of money.

What Is Quiet Quitting?

The concept of employees quiet quitting has exploded across industries. It’s a newer term that relates to employees going to work each day while not actively going above and beyond the necessary tasks. In other words, it is not really about quitting, but lack of engagement. It's like the idea of doing the bare minimum at your job.

How Can You Identify Employee Disengagement?

As a manager you are probably well aware of the negative effects active employee disengagement can have on your team’s productivity and ability to maintain high morale in the workplace. Even just one naysayer can create an environment more concerned with what’s going wrong than working towards company goals and the team’s greater well being. Often as a manager there are conversations within your team you may not be privy to. It is crucial to ensure you are involved with your team on a regular basis.

In this blog post, we’ll highlight some of the common characteristics that might be displayed by disengaged employees and also suggest some fixes to prevent disengagement and remedy the warning signs.

How to Recognize When Employees are Disengaging (aka Quiet Quitting)

A recent survey by Gallup cites a lack of good communication between managers and their direct reports as a major factor driving the quiet quitting trend. Gallup found that job dissatisfaction is higher than ever, with unhappy and disengaged workers may cost the global economy an estimated $7.8 trillion as a measure of lost productivity. While Gallup's data didn't show a sizable shift in disengaged employees vs past years, they did find that the trend of disengagement has grown among younger workers.

As Gallup states the best way to fight employee disengagement is with manager engagement: "The best requirement and habit to develop for successful managers is having one meaningful conversation per week with each team member — 15-30 minutes."

The following behaviors may indicate employees are actively disengaged or "quiet quitting". Catching these signs early allows managers to re-engage.

Disinterest Disengaged Employee

Disinterested (adjective): showing a lack of interest in something.

Are you noticing an employee seeming less likely to take on new projects, avoiding deadlines, or lacking interest in the tasks at hand? It may almost seem like an employee is checking out on the job. These are just some of the common outward signs a disinterested and disengaged employee might exhibit. Of course, there can be other causes and reasons for the aforementioned but if it’s becoming apparent, why not have a conversation and ask what’s going on?

Solution: Take Interest. By taking notice of this change in behavior you can show your employee that you’re aware something is going on. Have a constructive conversation that is focused on an explanation for the disinterest and solutions for the problem.

Defiant Disengaged Employee

Defiant (adjective): showing open resistance or bold disobedience.

Flat out refusing to do something or resisting suggestions, feedback, or help can be another way employees may be disengaged at work. Is someone more insubordinate than usual or are others in the organization feeling less inclined to work with this person? It’s time to intervene to see what is going on.

Solution: Ask Questions. Simple questions about the bad habits you’ve noticed in the workplace can get to the root cause of the defiant attitude. There could be a number of factors, and there’s no reason to avoid the conversation when sometimes just asking a couple questions can remedy the situation and get everyone back to working together again.

Defeated Disengaged Employee

Defeated (adjective): demoralized and overcome by adversity.

Has a team member been working on a tough project, missed an important deadline, or lost a huge sale? Everyone handles work stress differently and feeling like you failed at a project or failed your team can lead people to feeling defeated.

Solution: Motivate. As a manager, recognize the signs and step in to offer some much needed motivation. Not everyone can succeed at everything they do and sometimes a simple “you’ll get 'em next time” can pick that person up and have them holding their head high again.

How to Combat Quiet Quitting or Employee Disengagement

Overall, employee disengagement is best combat by involved and consistent leadership. A leader cannot identify and get ahead of quiet quitting signs without being involved.

Another way to keep employees engaged and on track is to ensure that they have specific goals and objectives to attain that are tied to larger company goals, also known as management by objectives. Having goals that align directly with the company goals will give your team a sense of purpose in their day to day tasks. This is something that can be achieved easily with an automated employee performance management solution like Xactly Objectives.

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Xactly News Team

The Xactly News Team reports on the latest product, events and market trends taking place within Xactly and throughout the revenue intelligence industry.