Best Principles for Re-Engaging Disengaged Employees

For many, the workplace is just that - a place to work. But it can be so much more. Kris Boesch, CEO & Founder of Choose People, shares her expertise on how to build a thriving work culture and bolt down that revolving door.

Article by Natalia Shen | Feb 11, 2021


The Cost of Disengaged Employees 


It’s no surprise that employee disengagement can be damaging to an organization, yet remedying it often gets put on the back burner for more “immediate” and tangible issues at hand. In its studies, Gallup has identified 3 types of employee engagement levels: engaged, disengaged, and actively disengaged. According to workplace culture expert Kris Boesch, 17% of employees are actively disengaged in the average workplace. This means that employees aren’t just unhappy, they’re making their unhappiness known and undermining the hard work of their engaged teammates. 


But while an actively disengaged employee may demonstrate the obvious and easy-to-spot characteristics such as lack of initiative, enthusiasm, and responsibility, a disengaged employee can be just as harmful to your company. In some ways, simply disengaged employees present a tougher situation, since more than half of the people in an average organization are unhappy, whether it shows outwardly or not” - meaning you might not even know that these employees are disengaged! In the most serious cases, disengaged employees will express their dissatisfaction by leaving. This happens more often than you’d think, as an overwhelming 79% of former employees cite “lack of appreciation” as their reason for quitting


Don’t settle for average! Developing an authentic work culture can get to the root of the problem, but is an ongoing effort that requires really taking the time to get to know each employee and their specific background, interests, passions, and needs. 👩🏾‍💼👩‍💼👨‍💼


If you want to get started with some data, Choose People offers a free Employee Engagement Calculator that enables you to measure the ROI of your happy / unhappy employees. 


So, how can you create a work environment where employees feel supported and encouraged, are genuinely excited to be there, and can really thrive? 


Talk to Your Employees 


Work culture is more than weekly happy hours and games. If there isn’t already a feeling of a positive work environment where camaraderie is embedded in the core values of the team, then team activities can certainly feel like a chore. 


Management’s job is to help employees self-actualize through work, to understand why their efforts are meaningful, needed, and appreciated within the bigger picture of the company. Employers should be connecting with their employees and asking, if they don’t love their job as a whole, what parts of their work do they enjoy? Are there ways that we can expand those aspects? Are there better-suited roles for them within the company? Leaders and managers are there to motivate their employees, and to help them discover and work towards these goals (whether their aspirations might align with their current organization or another one). 


A fun way to engage employees is through a “show and tell passion project,” where people can have the opportunity to share their outside interests and hobbies, and connect with coworkers who share similar interests. Even if employees don’t love what Kris calls “the work of the work,” there are many other aspects that go into the work experience, like the people on your team. As an employer, focus on the aspects that you do have the ability to impact, and these effects will likely show up in other places. 


Kris says that while you cannot force employees to care about their job, you can create a culture in which it is possible for them to be happy and high-performing. Kris describes culture as the context within which your people work. As she says, "it's the air your team breathes while running your marathon."  That air can be toxic or invigorating.


Other Tips 💡


As work has transitioned from in-person to virtual, we’re breaking down the perception that you can’t have a tight-knit culture with remote teams. Remote work has further blended the distinction between work and life in positive ways, allowing employers to glimpse into the personal lives of their teams. While Zoom fatigue is real, it’s important to be present when you’re interacting with teammates and not multitasking. 


Keep in mind that people have different ways of communicating and interacting. For team members who prefer to keep it more professional and less emotional, you can still maintain a sense of care, inclusion, and belonging, while being aware of those boundaries.


“Knowing that someone at work genuinely cares about you is critical for engagement.” - Kris 


Most importantly, employees want to know that there are team members who support them and have a desire to understand them, both inside and outside of the workplace. 


For over a decade, Kris Boesch has been guiding and empowering leaders across a variety of industries to create sustained work cultures of open communication, shared dedication, and pride - most recently, through her company’s new online program, Camp Culture Online Academy. Still need help? Kris offers tons of resources and services to get you started building a more positive, inclusive, and high-performance workplace.



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