Disengaged employee looking at smartphone at work.

4 Surprising Signs of a Disengaged Employee

Ohana Editor Blog

It’s simple enough to recognize the employee that doesn’t want to be there, right? He shows up late, leaves early, gossips, complains, and is just a general drag on the office culture. He’s clearly suffering from disengagement. But hold on- the world isn’t simply divided into engaged and disengaged employees.

According to Gallup, there are actually three types of employees- engaged, unengaged, and actively disengaged. The engaged employee works with passion and commitment. The actively disengaged employee, described above, very obviously brings your company down. However, it’s the employee in the middle, the one who is not totally engaged, that poses the biggest threat to your business.

The unengaged employee can be difficult to spot. She shows up on time, does what you tell her, and doesn’t appear to cause trouble. However, these workers can cost an organization up to $3,400 for every $10,000 of their salary and cost the U.S. economy up to $300 billion each year in lost productivity. It gets worse- Gallup says that this group of unengaged workers makes up more than 50% of any given company.

So, don’t let the silent majority bring down your workforce. Look for these signs to help spot disengagement.

1. They Have No Interest in Professional Development

Actively engaged employees are always looking to grow. They aren’t afraid to learn from their mistakes, ask for feedback, or take on a new challenge. They’re likely the ones who are constantly consuming and sharing industry-related articles on LinkedIn. The unengaged employee won’t make any of that extra effort because they are not inspired to improve.

2. They Don’t Ask Questions

As a leader, you want your employees to respect your leadership. So wouldn’t it make sense that your best employees are the most obedient ones? Wrong.  An actively engaged employee wants to gather as much information as possible so he/she can do the best work possible.  Unengaged employees won’t ask questions because investment in the success of the project or the company is low.

3. They Are M.I.A.

Pay special attention to the attendance of your employees at company events.  Who comes to your Fun Friday staff lunches or to the volunteer outing at the local food bank?  Engaged employees will attend company events when possible and help promote camaraderie amongst your team members. Unengaged employees won’t care to join you because they have no interest in helping to build the company culture.

4. They Aren’t a Team Player

Collaboration is an important part of inspiring innovation within a company. A good way to break down your employee engagement is to look at your teams. Who’s active in their team? Who steps up to take on tasks that no one else will? Who volunteers information and ideas?   These are your engaged employees.  They are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve success.  Your unengaged employees are the ones who aren’t participating – they insist on working alone and refuse to collaborate in team settings.

Engagement can and will change at various points in an employee’s tenure.  It’s important to keep an eye on employees who suddenly start showing signs of disengagement.  If you spot disengagement early, there are plenty of opportunities to get that employee back on board.


To start engaging all of your employees, download a free trial of Ohana today.