by Flex HR

4 Things That Cause Employee Disengagement (And How To Fix It)

In the United States, only about 36% of employees claim to be engaged at work. 15% consider themselves to be actively disengaged at work, meaning that they derive very little satisfaction from their professional roles. Active dissatisfaction leads to a lack of productivity — which is why researchers estimate that disengaged workers cost the American economy $550 billion annually.

Companies that want to avoid lost productivity need to tackle the root causes of job dissatisfaction. So below we’ll go over four of the biggest contributors to employee disengagement.

Bored Female Employee checks her watch at desk


Inadequate Compensation

People work to live, not the other way around. Making enough money to afford bill payments, groceries, and other living expenses will always be your employee’s priority — and if they struggle to make ends meet, they will inevitably struggle to focus on work. But poor pay can also cause dissatisfaction among employees that make comfortable living wages. As long as their pay is low in relation to the time and effort they put into your company, employees will feel under appreciated.

Providing good pay and benefits is a no-brainer remedy. Our list of 10 ideas for better recruiting to attract more candidates explains that providing additional financial benefits, such as financial education, tuition reimbursement, and stock options, can give companies an edge in today’s competitive hiring market. Not only will these benefits attract good candidates, but they will also help retain them.

Disengaged unhappy employee

Lack Of Career Development Opportunities

As mentioned in our article on employee retention and workforce reengineering, a lack of career development opportunities within a company will inevitably lead to high turnover rates, especially among younger generations. Employees want a sense of progression; they would rather leave than be trapped in positions where their responsibilities (and pay) remain the same.

Companies can benefit from establishing clear-cut career progression systems. Make sure employees are aware of how they can move within the company, and give them objectives based on measurable results. Training development programs that let employees gain useful career skills can also increase work engagement.

Unsupportive Management

Employees want to be treated with compassion when crises arise. That’s why well-being is a top concern when it comes to modern employee expectations. A lack of support from higher-ups during times of poor health will lead to active resentment on the employee’s end. Additionally, employees that are mentally or physically unwell will struggle to stay productive. Workplace stress alone costs the U.S. economy an estimated $500 billion each year.

Managers should approach their employees with compassion, empathy, and understanding. Assume positive intent when employees request sick leaves and vacation leaves. It can also help to link employees to helpful well-being resources, such as screening tools, guides, and mental health apps.

Poor Work-Life Balance

For most people, work is just a small part of life. They have bigger priorities to attend to, such as their families, friends, and passions. Stress and burnout increase when employees lack the time for their personal lives. Employees become especially disengaged when they feel that they lack the agency to take control of their own schedules.

Offering flexible work arrangements, such as flexible schedules and remote work, will allow employees to complete work tasks while giving them the time and space to manage personal obligations. In fact, 75% of Senior HR Leaders say “allowing flexible work hours is one of the most effective ways to help avoid employee burnout.” It’s all a matter of setting clear expectations for work output and trusting employees to complete tasks at their own pace.

At the core of it, combatting job dissatisfaction means showing employees that they are valued by providing better pay and benefits, opportunities for career development, support for mental and physical health, and agency when it comes to working arrangements. And an employee that feels valued will feel engaged.

Article written by Rea Jackson


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