Employee disengagement in the workplace is on the rise. This trend appeared before the pandemic and is only getting worse.
In a 2018 survey, Gallup found that:
- Barely 1/3 of employees were “fully engaged” in their work
- 53% were not engaged
- 13% were actively disengaged
In recent months, the term “quiet quitting” has become the buzzword for disengagement after the concept went viral on TikTok. Quiet quitting is when an employee only does the bare minimum at work to avoid getting fired to save energy and focus for outside interests and personal time. It goes beyond boundary setting and represents an emotional detachment from the job and the outcome. They may also be looking for another job.
According to Gallup in a September 2022 article, “quiet quitters” now makeup at least 50% of the U.S. workforce — probably more. Disengagement has become more common among managers, as well as remote Gen Z and younger millennials. No wonder it’s hard to get good service when you eat out – you’ve only got a 50% chance of getting a server who cares!
So what does employee disengagement or quiet quitting look like? And, why should you care?
Here are some common signs of disengagement:
- Increased absenteeism and/or leaving work early/arriving late,
- More negativity or cynicism,
- Withdrawal or apathy about work or assignments,
- Missed deadlines
- Declining productivity or quality,
- Poor communication or silence,
- Lack of connection with other colleagues,
- Low levels of motivation,
- Showing signs of burnout,
- Expressed dissatisfaction (although dissatisfaction and engagement are not the same thing).
An example of a disengaged employee shared by one of our clients is Claire. Claire was with Company A for almost five years. When she started, she was highly responsive, detail-oriented, and a team player. She was someone you could count on to complete a project on time and under budget.
In the past year, however, she’s become slower to respond to requests. Sometimes it takes a few reminders from her manager. She has stopped volunteering for new projects and has been heard complaining about her boss and the company several times. She’s still considered a “good employee” though, so she hasn’t been written up or fired, but her co-workers try to avoid working with her. You can tell that her commitment to the job has declined but aren’t sure why or what to do about it.
The High Cost of Disengagement
According to McLean & Company, employee disengagement costs an organization approximately $3,400 for every $10,000 in salary.
Disengagement also results in higher rates of turnover and lower productivity. According to MacLeod & Clark, companies with low engagement scores earn an operating income that is 32.7% lower than companies with higher rates of engagement!
Not to mention the effect on your company culture and the drag on your engaged employees.
Employee engagement is critical for your company’s long-term success and profitability.