Employee engagement can make or break a company. With disengaged employees forming about 86% of the workforce, most teams would include a couple of unmotivated members.

Having a big chunk of your workforce ‘on the fence’ can significantly impact business revenues, workplace culture, and overall performance.

What is the financial cost of disengaged employees?

Disengaged or unhappy employees are less creative and productive. They are also more likely to quit the company. When that happens, the boomerang effect can be destructive.

Research from Gallup shows that a disengaged workforce costs US companies about $500 billion each year. The same report also states that the cost of a single disengaged employee is approximately 34% of their annual salary.

For example: If you have one unengaged employee with annual compensation of $100,000, their productivity loss would be $34,000. If you replicate this across the entire organization, the cost would be astronomical and detrimental to individual and business performance.

Other costs associated with unengaged employees are:

  • Cost of rehiring for an open position
  • Amount of resources required to train existing staff to take over until the position is filled

Signs of a disengaged workforce

Engaged employees are creative problem solvers, active team contributors, and friendly peers at work. They adopt their employer’s vision, purpose, and values.

But how can you identify disengaged employees? The common signs of an unengaged staff can reflect in many behaviors, such as:

Lack of initiative

Poor job performance is a clear sign of disengagement, but good performance can also be a red herring. Often, disconnected employees perform exceedingly well due to a personal work ethic, lack of challenges, or the job being too simple.

Silence in the workplace

While 25-40% of the population are introverts, too much silence in the workplace can also be indicative of disengagement at work.

If you notice zero excitement, lack of interest, or even absence of acknowledgment, it could be a sign of disengaged employees.

No desire to learn or grow

Curiosity is a clear sign of engagement. Harvard Business Review research confirms that inquisitive minds lead to highly adaptable and high-performing companies.

Employee curiosity shows that they care about the team and organization. If learning and growth is a treasured company value, but employees don’t share that enthusiasm, it’s time to take a closer look at their engagement score.

Poor work ethic

Overdoing lunch or smoking breaks can also indicate disengagement. Unengaged employees may be experiencing personal troubles, but taking excessive breaks can also signal a lack of interest in their roles, work, or company.

How to inspire disengaged remote employees

Disengagement may be growing, but creating and maintaining consistent communication is key to increasing employee engagement.

Did you know that companies with highly engaged teams show 21% more profitability than those that don’t have them? These companies also report a 2.6x higher growth in earnings per share.

Ensuring employees are happy, fulfilled, and more connected to their company’s purpose can be quite simple. Consider these key tips that can inspire a disengaged workforce, whether they are situated across different floors or continents:

Establish clear goals

After COVID-19, uncertainty is the new normal. However, companies can do their part to define role expectations and reduce ambiguity.

Successful performance at work can be highlighted with clear behaviors that connect individual tasks to the broader organizational goals. Collaboratively set goals can also lead to a significant rise in employee engagement.

Prioritize milestones and achievements

All companies focus on prioritizing their objectives and KPIs. Stand out by recognizing and celebrating personal achievements and milestones.

Even sending simple ‘thank you’ or ‘you are special’ emails can result in employees becoming eight times more engaged than those who only receive monetary compensation for a job well done.

Regularize feedback

Making feedback more than a once-a-year affair can do so much to boost employee engagement. Apart from leading to a two-fold rise in motivation, regular feedback helps employees perform their roles better.

Feedback also becomes more meaningful when it’s given consistently, backed by specific instances, and connected to the overall company goals.

With remote work becoming the norm, informal feedback opportunities have drastically reduced. It’s not possible to meet with your team at the coffee machine or drop into their cubicle.

Teams can use online messaging tools, collaboration software, and video conferencing platforms to provide timely and meaningful feedback.

Let employees grow and prosper

Around 33% of job seekers consider professional growth and development the number one reason to accept a new job.

However, they tend to walk out the door if they don’t get it. Be intentional in creating nurturing routines and team practices that can help staff bond with each other and connect to the organization’s purpose.

Reduce the social isolation and disconnect that can arise from remote working by:

  • Setting up clear communication channels for employees to collaborate
  • Having a regular cadence of both informal check-ins and formal communication using chat, messaging, phone, and video calls
  • Encouraging a cross-functional approach to work
  • Facilitating creative ways of working
  • Creating a positive work culture that supports informal gatherings such as virtual meet-ups, Friday socials, or online birthday celebrations 

Personalize motivators 

Make personalized motivating options available to your employees, such as providing challenging work or opportunities to learn and grow in their personal capacity.

Continue this streak in the rewards and recognition space by having personal thank you cards, monetary rewards, or time off from work.

How to keep your employees engaged with Wrike

Motivating disengaged employees can be challenging, but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for teams or companies.

Start by helping employees find purpose and meaning in their work. Support them by creating personal bonds, connecting their work with the organizational vision, and providing timely feedback.

Employee engagement is a continuous process whether people work remotely or in-office. Empower your team to cut needless distractions, simplify complicated projects, and get better results with a collaborative work management solution like Wrike.

Get a free two-week Wrike trial to discover flexible work management tools that crush deadlines, increase employee engagement, and help you achieve organizational success.