How disengaged employees reflect your company culture?

8 min read
Disengaged employees in workplace.

Disengaged employees can be a real buzzkill for workplace culture. It's like trying to throw a party of the year with a group of people who just want to sit in the corner and stare at their phones.

It sounds super boring, doesn’t it? Sometimes, you wouldn’t be surprised if you heard the sound of crickets.

But yeah, that happens when you have a team full of disengaged employees. They're like the party poopers of the workplace, bringing everyone down with their lack of enthusiasm and motivation.

As the famous comedian George Carlin once said, "Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit."

But if you want to create a positive workplace culture and avoid the crickets, it's time to address the impact of actively disengaged employees.

So, let's dive into how actively disengaged employees can impact workplace culture and, more importantly, what you can do about it (besides confiscating their phones).

Table of contents:-

What is a disengaged employee?

Have you ever had an employee who just seems like they don't care about their job? Maybe they're always late, miss deadlines, or don't put in the effort you expect. If so, you may have a disengaged employee on your hands.

So, what exactly is a disengaged employee? Essentially, it's someone who has lost interest in their work and isn't fully committed to their job or the company. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as feeling undervalued or unappreciated, not having clear goals or expectations, or simply feeling burned out.

The problem with disengaged employees is that they can have a negative impact on the rest of your team. Their lack of enthusiasm and productivity can spread, affecting morale and your bottom line. That's why it's important to identify and address disengagement early on before it becomes a bigger issue.

Root causes of employee disengagement

Lack of communication is one of the primary reason behind disengaged employees.

Employee disengagement can be a serious problem for any organization. Not only does it impact productivity and morale, but it can also lead to increased turnover and decreased profitability. So, what are the root causes of employee disengagement?

One common cause is a lack of communication. Employees may become disengaged when they don't feel like they're being heard or valued. This can be especially true if they don't receive employee feedback on their work or don't feel they clearly understand their role and responsibilities.

Another cause of disengagement is a lack of development opportunities. When employees feel like they're stuck in a dead-end job with no room for growth or advancement, they're more likely to become disengaged. Providing opportunities for training and development can help keep engaged employees motivated.

A toxic work environment can also contribute to employee disengagement. Most employees who don't feel safe, respected, or valued may start to disengage from their work. A number of factors, such as bullying, harassment, or discrimination, can cause this.

And workplace burnout can be a major cause of disengagement. Employees who are overworked and stressed out may lose interest in their work and become disengaged. Offering support and resources for stress management and work-life balance can help prevent burnout and keep employees engaged.

Signs of disengaged employees

Signs of disengaged employees

It's no secret that when disengaged employees are in a team, they can have a negative impact on a business, affecting productivity, morale, and even the bottom line. But how do you know if you have disengaged employees on your team? Here are some common signs to look out for:

Lack of enthusiasm and motivation

One of the most obvious signs of a disengaged workforce is a lack of employee motivation and enthusiasm. They may seem uninterested in their work, take longer to complete tasks, or not put in the effort you expect. They may also be less likely to volunteer for new projects or opportunities for growth.

Decreased productivity

Another sign of disengagement is decreased productivity. You may notice that the employee is not meeting their targets or deadlines or that the quality of their work has decreased. They may also be less responsive to emails or requests for feedback, indicating that they are not invested in their work.

Increased absenteeism

Disengaged employees may also be more likely to call in sick or take time off for personal lives. This could be a sign that they are not happy with their job or work environment and are looking for excuses to avoid coming in.

Negative attitude

Disengaged employees may have a negative attitude towards their work or colleagues. They may complain more often or have a generally pessimistic outlook on their job. This negativity can be contagious and bring down the entire team's morale.

Lack of initiative

Actively disengaged employees may also be less likely to take initiative or suggest new ideas. They may be content with doing the bare minimum and not looking for ways to improve or innovate. This can be a problem for businesses that rely on creativity and innovation to stay competitive.

High turnover rate

Finally, a high turnover rate can be a sign of disengaged employees. If you notice that employees are leaving your company at a higher rate than usual, it could be a sign that they are unhappy with their job or work environment.

So, what can you do if you notice these signs in your employees? The first step is to converse with them and identify the root cause of their disengagement. This could be a lack of communication, a toxic work environment, or a need for more development opportunities.

And make sure to identify the stage of a disengaged employee. What are the stages, you ask? Keep reading to know more!

Stages of employee disengagement

Employee disengagement can be a complex issue, and it often occurs in stages. By understanding the stages of disengagement, managers can take action to address the issue before it becomes a more significant problem. Here are the three stages of employee disengagement:

Emotional disconnection

At the first stage, employee performance becomes low, and they can also be emotionally disconnected from their work. They may start to feel less motivated, less invested, and less committed to their job. This can lead to decreased productivity and a lack of enthusiasm for their work.

Behavioral changes

In the second stage, employees' disengagement begins to manifest itself in behavioral changes. This can include things like increased absenteeism, decreased quality of work, and a lack of initiative or creativity. Employees may also become less communicative and less collaborative with their colleagues.


At the final stage, employees may withdraw from their work entirely. This can mean not showing up to work, not responding to emails or phone calls, or quitting their job altogether. It can be difficult to re-engage the employee at this point, and managers may need to take more drastic action to address the issue.

By understanding the three stages of employee disengagement, managers can take action to address the issue before it becomes a more significant problem.

This can involve everything from improving communication and feedback processes, creating a more positive work culture, and offering training and development opportunities.

How do you motivate an employee who is disengaged?

Ways to motivate disengaged employees. 

Employee disengagement can be a challenging issue for managers to address. However, there are several strategies that managers can use to motivate employees who are feeling disconnected from their work.

Here are five pointers on how to motivate a disengaged employee:

Open communication

Open communication is key to understanding the reasons behind an employee's disengagement. Managers should encourage their employees to share their concerns and frustrations openly. Managers can create a more positive work environment by listening to and addressing their concerns.

Set goals and expectations

Setting clear goals and expectations can help to give employees a sense of purpose and direction. Managers should work with their employees to set challenging but achievable goals. This can help to build confidence and create a sense of accomplishment.

Provide recognition and rewards

Employees who feel appreciated and valued are more likely to be engaged and motivated. Managers should take the time to recognize their employees' achievements and provide rewards for their hard work. This can be as simple as offering verbal praise or providing incentives such as bonuses or additional time off.

Offer development opportunities

Providing employees with opportunities for professional development and growth can be an excellent way to motivate them. Managers should encourage their employees to take on new challenges and provide them with the resources they need to succeed. This can help to build confidence and create a sense of purpose.

Create a positive work culture

Creating a positive work culture is essential to motivating employees. Managers should strive to create a workplace where employees feel respected, valued, and supported. This can involve everything from creating a pleasant physical environment to promoting a healthy work-life balance.

How do employee engagement activities help boost employees?

Employee engagement activities are a powerful tool for boosting employee morale, productivity, and job satisfaction. These activities can take many forms, from team-building exercises to training and development programs. (Below, we have added a link to guide you through the top 35 activities to improve employee engagement, don’t miss out!)

They are designed to create a more positive work environment where employees feel valued and supported. By engaging employees in these activities, managers can foster a sense of community and teamwork, which can help to improve collaboration and communication.

And these activities can provide employees with opportunities for growth and development, which can boost their confidence and job satisfaction. So, they are a valuable investment in creating a more engaged employees and motivated workforce.

Top 35 employee engagement activities PPT

Re-energise disengaged employees using CultureMonkey

Actively disengaged employees tend to be a liability, impacting productivity, morale, and, ultimately, the bottom line. But with the right tool, there is light at the end of the tunnel. So, you can re-engage disengaged employees and create a more positive work environment with tools like CultureMonkey.

CultureMonkey is an employee engagement platform that can help you improve workplace engagement by offering a variety of employee engagement survey types, such as pulse surveys, eNPS, employee life cycle surveys, onboarding surveys, and more.

The platform’s pulse surveys are designed to gather employee feedback on a regular basis, allowing managers to stay in touch with their team's needs and concerns in real-time.

By utilizing a platform like CultureMonkey, people leaders can gather employee feedback and track employees’ engagement metrics to identify areas for improvement while also providing opportunities for growth and development to re-energize disengaged employees.



Santhosh is a Jr. Product Marketer with 2+ years of experience. He loves to travel solo (though he doesn’t label them as vacations, they are) to explore, meet people, and learn new stories.