How to overcome low employee engagement as a leader in 2024

Kailash Ganesh
12 min read
Employee feeling low in battery while working
How to overcome low employee engagement as a leader in 2024

Imagine a workplace where employees are going through the emotions, lacking the motivation and drive to truly excel. This, unfortunately, is the reality for many companies struggling with low employee engagement.

Employee engagement is more than just keeping your staff happy. It's about fostering an environment where individuals feel invested in the company's success, empowered to contribute their best work, and motivated to go the extra mile.

In today's competitive landscape, with the rise of remote work and a focus on work-life balance, leaders need to be more intentional than ever about creating a culture of more engaged employees.

This guide will delve into the significant impact low employee engagement can have on your company culture. We'll explore the telltale signs of a disengaged workforce and the domino effect it creates, affecting everything from productivity and innovation to customer satisfaction and your employer brand.

What happens when employee engagement is low?

Employer feeling sad because of the down trend
What happens when employee engagement is low?

When employee engagement is low, it can have several negative consequences for both the employees and the organization:

  • Decreased productivity: When employees are actively disengaged, they can become less motivated to perform at their best, leading to lower productivity levels within the organization.
  • Poor quality of work: When employees are not engaged, they may be less focused on their tasks, leading to a decline in the quality of work they produce.
  • Increased absenteeism and turnover: Disengaged employees are more likely to miss work or leave the organization altogether in search of better opportunities, resulting in higher turnover rates and increased costs for recruitment and training.
  • Negative impact on employee morale: Low employee engagement can create a negative work environment, affecting the morale of both disengaged employees and their colleagues.
  • Lack of innovation and creativity: Engaged employees are more likely to contribute new ideas and solutions to challenges faced by the organization. When engagement is low, there may be a lack of innovation and creativity within the workforce.
  • Customer dissatisfaction: Disengaged employees are less likely to provide excellent customer service, leading to lower levels of customer satisfaction and potential loss of business.
  • Decreased profitability: Ultimately, low employee engagement can negatively impact the bottom line of the organization through decreased productivity, increased turnover costs, and reduced customer satisfaction.

Top 10 reasons for low employee engagement at work

Employer trying to find the reason for the down trend
Top 10 reasons for low employee engagement at work

Low employee engagement can stem from various factors, and identifying the root causes is crucial for addressing them effectively. Here are ten common reasons for low employee engagement at work:

1. Lack of communication

Effective communication is the backbone of any successful organization. When communication channels are unclear, or leaders fail to communicate openly and transparently with employees, uncertainty and disengagement can breed.

Employees need to understand the organization's goals, their role in achieving them, and how their work contributes to the bigger picture of organizational success.

2. Inadequate recognition and rewards

Recognition and rewards play a crucial role in motivating employees and reinforcing positive behavior. When employees feel their efforts are not valued or recognized, it can lead to feelings of disengagement and demotivation.

Implementing regular recognition programs and acknowledging employees' contributions can help boost morale and drive employee engagement.

3. Limited opportunities for growth and development

Employees seek opportunities to learn, grow, and advance in their careers. When organizations fail to provide avenues for professional development or career advancement, employees may feel stuck and disengaged.

Investing in training programs, mentorship opportunities, and career paths can help retain top talent and foster higher levels of engagement.

4. Poor leadership

Leadership plays a critical role in shaping organizational culture and increasing employee engagement. Ineffective or unsupportive leadership can erode trust, create disunity, and demotivate employees.

Leaders need to be accessible, empathetic, and able to inspire and empower their teams to achieve their full potential.

5. Workload and stress

High levels of workload, unrealistic expectations, and constant pressure can lead to burnout and disengagement among employees.

Organizations need to prioritize employee well-being by promoting work-life balance, setting realistic expectations, and providing adequate support and resources to manage workloads effectively.

6. Unclear expectations

Employees thrive in environments where expectations are clear, and they understand how their work contributes to organizational objectives.

When expectations are ambiguous or constantly changing, employees may feel frustrated and disconnected from their work, leading to lower engagement levels.

7. Toxic workplace culture

A negative or toxic workplace culture characterized by gossip, conflict, or lack of trust can significantly impact employee engagement and morale.

Organizations need to foster a positive and inclusive culture where respect, collaboration, and open communication are valued.

8. Lack of trust and autonomy

Micromanagement and a lack of trust can stifle creativity, innovation, and employee engagement.

Employees need autonomy to make decisions and take ownership of their work. Trusting employees to do their jobs effectively fosters a sense of empowerment and engagement.

9. Poor job fit

When employees are mismatched with their roles or lack the necessary skills and resources to succeed, they are more likely to become disengaged.

Organizations should invest in proper job alignment, training, and development to ensure employees are set up for success in their roles.

10. Lack of work-life balance

Employees value flexibility and work-life balance, especially in today's fast-paced work environments. Organizations that prioritize long hours and fail to accommodate employees' personal lives may experience higher levels of burnout and disengagement.

Offering flexible work arrangements and promoting a healthy work-life balance can improve employee satisfaction and increase team engagement too.

How does low employee engagement impact company culture?

Employees connecting a puzzle together in the workplace
How does low employee engagement impact company culture?

Low employee engagement can have a profound impact on company culture, shaping the overall environment and dynamics within the organization.

When employees are disengaged, it often reflects a lack of alignment with the company's values, goals, and mission.

This discord can permeate throughout the organization, leading to a culture marked by apathy, disconnection, and even negativity.

In such an environment, communication channels may be strained, collaboration may suffer, and trust between employees and leadership may erode. Additionally, low engagement can contribute to a sense of disillusionment and dissatisfaction among employees, which can spread rapidly and undermine morale.

A culture of disengagement may foster complacency and resistance to change, hindering the organization's ability to innovate and adapt to evolving market conditions.

Moreover, in a culture where recognition and rewards are scarce, employees may become demotivated and disheartened, further exacerbating the cycle of disengagement.

Furthermore, a lack of engagement can lead to increased turnover rates as disenchanted employees seek opportunities elsewhere, further disrupting the fabric of the company culture.

Ultimately, low employee engagement can perpetuate a negative feedback loop, wherein a toxic culture reinforces employee disengagement further, and disengagement perpetuates a toxic culture.

Addressing low engagement is essential for cultivating a positive and thriving company culture built on trust, collaboration, and a shared sense of purpose.

How do you tell if an employee is not engaged?

Employees feeling down in the workplace
How do you tell if an employee is not engaged?

Recognizing signs of disengagement in employees is essential for addressing issues early and taking steps to improve their engagement levels. Here are several indicators that an employee may be disengaged:

  • Lack of enthusiasm: Disengaged employees often exhibit a lack of enthusiasm or passion for their work. They may appear uninterested during meetings or discussions and may not actively contribute ideas or suggestions.
  • Poor attitude: They may display negative attitudes, such as cynicism, irritability, or resentment towards their work, colleagues, or the organization as a whole.
  • Limited initiative: They may show little initiative or proactivity in taking on new tasks, solving problems, or seeking opportunities for growth and development.
  • Isolation: They may withdraw socially from their colleagues and become more isolated in the workplace. They may avoid participating in team activities or social events.
  • Decreased communication: Disengaged employees may communicate less frequently or effectively with their managers and colleagues. They may be less likely to ask questions, seek feedback, or engage in meaningful conversations about their work.
  • Resistance to change: Disengaged employees may resist changes in processes, procedures, or initiatives within the organization. They may prefer the status quo and be reluctant to embrace new ideas or approaches.
  • Physical signs of stress or burnout: Disengagement can contribute to stress and burnout, leading to physical symptoms such as fatigue, lack of energy, or even health issues.

3 Low employee engagement examples

Employee leaving the company and walking towards the exit
Low employee engagement examples

Here are three examples of low employee engagement scenarios:

1. Lack of participation in team meetings

In this scenario, during team meetings, several employees consistently remain silent, avoid eye contact, and seem disinterested in the discussions. They may show minimal engagement by checking their phones, doodling, or appearing distracted.

When asked for input, they offer brief, generic responses or stay silent altogether. This lack of participation indicates disengagement, as these employees are not actively contributing to the team's goals or discussions, potentially hindering collaboration and innovation.

2. High turnover in a department

Another example of low employee engagement is when a particular department experiences frequent turnover.

Employees may resign or request transfers at a higher rate than other departments, indicating dissatisfaction or disengagement with their roles or the work environment.

Exit interviews and feedback from departing employees may reveal issues such as a lack of career growth opportunities, poor leadership, or a toxic workplace culture contributing to their decision to leave. Addressing these underlying issues is crucial to improving employee engagement and reducing turnover.

3. Decline in performance metrics

A decline in performance metrics, such as sales numbers, customer satisfaction ratings, or project deadlines, can also signal low employee engagement.

When employees are disengaged, they are less motivated to perform at their best, resulting in decreased productivity and quality of work.

For example, a sales team may fail to meet targets, customer complaints may increase, or project deliverables may be delayed.

Analyzing performance data and gathering feedback from employees can help identify the root causes and signs of low employee engagement and implement strategies to address them, such as providing additional training, restructuring workflows, or improving communication channels.

How do you measure engagement in the workplace?

Employer looking at the recent statistics
How do you measure engagement in the workplace?

Measuring employee engagement involves assessing various aspects of employees' attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions related to their work and the organization. Here are several common methods used to measure engagement in the workplace:

Employee surveys

Employee engagement surveys are one of the most widely used methods for measuring engagement.

These surveys typically include a range of questions designed to gauge employees' satisfaction, motivation, commitment, and alignment with the organization's goals and values.

Feedback sessions

Conducting one-on-one feedback sessions or focus group discussions with employees can provide valuable qualitative insights into their engagement levels.

These sessions allow employees to express their thoughts, concerns, and suggestions openly, providing a deeper understanding of their perceptions and experiences in the workplace.

Performance reviews

Performance evaluations can offer insights into employees' engagement levels by assessing their productivity, quality of work, collaboration, and alignment with organizational goals.

Managers can use performance reviews to identify signs of disengagement, such as declining performance or lack of initiative, and address them proactively.

Retention rates

Monitoring employee turnover and retention rates using employee engagement software can serve as an indirect measure of turnover rates and may indicate dissatisfaction or disengagement among employees, while low turnover rates suggest a more engaged and committed workforce.

Peer reviews and 360-degree employee feedback

Peer reviews and 360-degree feedback mechanisms allow employees to provide feedback on their colleagues' performance, behavior, and contributions.

This multisource feedback can provide a holistic view of an employee's engagement and effectiveness within the team and organization.

Employee net promoter score (eNPS)

Similar to the Net Promoter Score used in customer satisfaction surveys, eNPS measures employees' likelihood to recommend their organization as a place to work.

It provides a simple yet insightful metric for gauging overall employee satisfaction and engagement.

Observations and informal feedback

Managers and leaders can also observe employee behaviors, interactions, and morale in the workplace and gather informal feedback through regular check-ins and conversations.

These observations can help identify signs of engagement or disengagement that may not be captured through formal methods.

What does a low engagement rate mean?

Employees feeling low in the workplace
What does a low engagement rate mean?

A low engagement rate in the workplace signifies that employees are not fully invested, motivated, or connected to their work, their colleagues, or the organization as a whole.

It suggests a lack of enthusiasm, commitment, and alignment with the organization's goals, values, and mission.

When engagement is low, employees may exhibit signs of disinterest, apathy, or discontent, impacting their productivity, morale, and overall performance. This can have significant implications for the organization's culture, productivity, and bottom line.

At its core, a low engagement rate reflects a breakdown in the relationship between employees and the organization. It may indicate that employees do not feel valued, respected, or appreciated for their contributions, leading to feelings of disillusionment and detachment.

Employees who are disengaged are less likely to go above and beyond in their roles, seek opportunities for growth and development, or collaborate effectively with their colleagues, resulting in decreased teamwork and innovation.

Top 5 strategies to fix low employee engagement scores

Employees sharing the same goal as the company
Top 5 strategies to fix low employee engagement scores

Addressing low employee and engagement survey scores requires a multifaceted approach that involves addressing underlying issues, fostering a positive work environment, and empowering employees.

Here are the top five strategies to fix low employee engagement scores:

1. Enhance communication channels

Improve communication between leadership and employees by providing regular updates on organizational goals, performance, and initiatives.

Implement transparent communication channels, such as town hall meetings, employee forums, and regular team meetings, to foster open dialogue and address employees' concerns and feedback.

2. Recognize and reward employee contributions

Implement recognition and reward programs to acknowledge and appreciate employees' efforts and achievements. Recognize employees for their hard work, innovative ideas, and contributions to the organization's success.

Offer meaningful rewards, such as bonuses, incentives, or opportunities for career advancement, to motivate and incentivize employees to excel.

3. Invest in employee development

Provide opportunities for professional development and career growth to empower employees and enhance their skills and competencies.

Offer training programs, workshops, mentorship opportunities, and tuition reimbursement to support employees' career aspirations and personal growth.

Encourage continuous learning and skill development to keep employees engaged and motivated.

4. Promote work-life balance

Foster a healthy work-life balance by offering flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options, flexible hours, or compressed workweeks.

Encourage employees to take breaks, vacations, and time off to recharge and prevent burnout. Create a supportive and inclusive work culture that prioritizes employee well-being and recognizes the importance of work-life balance.

5. Cultivate a positive work environment

Create a positive and inclusive work environment where employees feel valued, respected, and supported.

Foster a culture of trust, collaboration, and appreciation by promoting teamwork, celebrating diversity, and encouraging open communication.

Address any issues of workplace negativity, conflict, or micromanagement promptly and proactively to create a supportive and empowering work culture.

Top 7 activities to combat low engagement in the workplace

Employees are working on a puzzle to get to an idea
Top 7 activities to combat low engagement in the workplace

To combat low engagement, organizations can implement a variety of employee engagement strategies and activities to foster a positive work environment and enhance employee satisfaction.

Here are seven engagement activities that can help improve employee engagement:

  1. Team-building events: Organize team-building activities such as retreats, offsite meetings, or social outings to strengthen bonds among team members. These activities provide opportunities for employees to connect, collaborate, and build trust outside of the traditional work setting.
  2. Employee recognition programs: Implement formal employee recognition programs to acknowledge and celebrate employees' achievements, contributions, and milestones. Recognize employees through awards, certificates, or public praise to show appreciation for their hard work and dedication.
  3. Professional development workshops: Offer workshops, seminars, or lunch-and-learn sessions on topics relevant to employees' professional growth and development. Provide opportunities for skill-building, career advancement, and personal enrichment to empower employees and enhance their overall job satisfaction too.
  4. Wellness initiatives: Promote employee well-being by offering wellness programs, activities, or resources to support physical, mental, and emotional health. Provide access to fitness classes, mindfulness sessions, or wellness challenges to help employees prioritize their health and reduce stress.
  5. Employee resource groups: Establish employee resource groups (ERGs) or affinity groups based on common interests, backgrounds, or identities. These groups provide a sense of community, belonging, and support for employees, fostering inclusivity and diversity in the workplace.
  6. Feedback and listening sessions: Create opportunities for employees to share feedback, ideas, and concerns through surveys, focus groups, or town hall meetings. Actively listen to employees' feedback, address their concerns, and involve them in decision-making processes to demonstrate that their voices are heard and valued.
  7. Volunteer and community service events: Organize volunteer or community service events to engage employees in giving back to their local communities. Participating in charitable activities or corporate social responsibility initiatives can foster a sense of purpose, camaraderie, and pride among employees.


Addressing low employee engagement is paramount for organizations striving to cultivate a thriving and productive workforce.

By implementing different strategies such as enhancing communication channels, recognizing employee contributions, and more organizations can combat low engagement levels and foster a culture of motivation, collaboration, and innovation.

It's essential for organizations to prioritize employee engagement, listen to employees' feedback, and continuously adapt and evolve their employee engagement efforts to meet the changing needs of their workforce.

Ultimately, by prioritizing employee engagement, organizations can create a workplace where employees feel valued, supported, and empowered to contribute their best work, driving success and growth for the organization as a whole.

Kailash Ganesh

Kailash Ganesh

Kailash is a Product Marketer with 5+ years of experience. He loves story-telling in the simplest way possible and he is an avid reader, movie buff, and likes to travel new places to meet new people.