13 Habits of disengaged employees (fix employee disengagement forever!)

An employee talks to a room full of co-workers


"Only 20 percent of employees worldwide are engaged at work."

Gallup's Report

In other words, only about one in five workers are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to contribute positively to their organizations. The bulk of employees worldwide โ€“ 80% โ€“ are “not engaged,” that is, they are not self-motivated and are highly unlikely to innovate at work.

And 24% are “actively disengaged,” indicating they are unhappy and unproductive at work and liable to spread negativity to co-workers.

What is Employee Disengagement?

We all do our jobs. But some love doing their jobs. The reasons can be plentyโ€• your job brings you a sense of self-satisfaction, you enjoy the power to make impactful decisions for your company, or you relish the appreciation that comes with a job well done. Whatever the reason, there is a motivation beyond compensation.

Disengaged employees are workers who lack this extra motivation. Employee disengagement can quickly become a rot in the company culture. It can be infectious and cause serious harm to the overall organization’s growth and performance outcomes.

Now let’s see some employee disengagement warning signs and symptoms.

13 Alarming Signs of Disengaged Employees

It is essential to detect the early signs of disengagement so that the leadership can reverse it before it’s too late. When your team starts showing up on any of these ten habits, it’s time to be alert!

  1. Repeatedly missed deadlines and work quality below their usually high standards.

  2. Silence or lack of interest and participation in engaging post-work activities such as a gaming session or movie night

  3. Dismissive behavior such as nay-saying to new ideas and innovations that might be potentially rewarding for the company

  4. Increase in absenteeism and making up excuses (so when that teammate is down with too many “colds” in a month, it’s time to get them a serious check-up ๐Ÿ˜)

  5. Suddenly becoming a “Yes” person instead of adding feedback or suggestions.

  6. Ready to toss away learning & growth opportunities

  7. Hardly ever asks questions or has work-related queries.

  8. Unwilling to help other team members or help train new joiners

  9. Gossiping about high-performing employees

  10. Constantly irritable with feedback and at the news of new projects or work revisions

  11. High attrition rate within the team or organization

  12. Adapting to wrong-doing or status quo. Having no interest in reporting issues

  13. Mocking the company’s vision and not sharing the company’s values

How Can Disengaged Employees Cost You?

Employee disengagement can be quite a blow to any business. According to a recent study, disengaged employees can make you lose up to 34% of their salary in revenue.

That’s not all.

A teammate with below-par performance can negatively impact your goodwill in the market, customer confidence, and much more. Let’s see some common burns that organizations bear due to lack of employee engagement.

Loss in productivity

Perhaps the primary area that you should be looking at when trying to figure out the cost of employee disengagement is the fall in productivity that adds to your expenses. With missed deadlines, poor quality of work, lack of enthusiasm, and engagement, you are more likely to lose out on important clients and projects!

For example, if there are frequent complaints by customers about your service, it’s time to buckle up and see what your team is up to!

Difficulty in recruiting new talent

Mmm, it goes without saying.

Would you like to join a company that is lagging in revenue generation, has low customer satisfaction, and has poor quality service with employees who are too worked up all the time (we all do our research before applying somewhere)?

Often a significant cause of employee disengagement is the company’s weak internal communication & workplace collaboration. Getting projects assigned at the eleventh hour, repeated changes in work plan, and confusion about authority and end ownership may lead employees into frustration and the word about your poor workplace management spreads like a wildfire.

Lack of innovation

Do you recall how Nokia got wiped out of the market when a one-time bitten god’s (aka consumer’s) favorite apple rolled out in 2007? Well, was it because the company failed in coming up with a mere touchscreen that you and I would love to swipe through?

Nah! It was the lack of innovation on an optimized software that promised the best user experience, which Apple was quick to grasp and offer.

It makes me wonder, would a group of highly-motivated employees ever remain idle if they saw their ship going down?


Disengagement can have a massive impact on your company culture if not addressed timely. If an employee is uninterested at work or continuously stressed, it can bring down the entire team’s energy.

New joiners can also catch this vibe and quickly become unenthusiastic.

Lower earnings per share and turnover

Ding! Goes the closing bell indicating it’s time your share revenue for the day is over.

And per Forbes, engaged employees can shoot this up to 2X more than companies with employees who are not delivering their best! If this correlation wasn’t enough, then let me tell you, McLean & Company found that disengaged employees can cost you up to $3400 earned for every $10,000 rated annually

So, if you’re earning $1,000,000, you be losing $340000 just because someone from your team isn’t able to deliver (and, yup, it might not even be their fault completely, so make sure to get them to feel comfortable and open up!)

Want to Avoid Employee Disengagement? Focus on ‘COMET’

No, I’m not talking about the once-in-56 years burning asteroid to swoosh past your neighborhood, but the ‘C-O-M-E-T’, which, when incorporated into your business, can make it skyrocket!

C= Communication

O= Objectivity

M= Motivation

E= Engagement

T= Training


The first and most crucial step is to keep your lines of communication open and transparent.

Companies where employees are better able to voice their opinions tend to have a much higher engagement rate than those that cannot. Effective internal communication is indispensable for engaging employees with your company culture.

Quick Tip:

Communication holds its efficacy only when you don't go overboard with it. Perfecting lines of communication means keeping them compact and crisp yet fixing the pain points. Corporate communication can be given a new dimension when displayed via a LED screen that is accessible to all, aka via the use of digital signage. Find out more here.


Unbiased. Unbowed. Impartial.

The ‘UUI’ principle of leadership helps companies garner maximum employee engagement and motivate them to give their best! Businesses with clearly defined objectives tend to have more influx of fresh talent and are likely to retain their confidence.


Your employees look forward to that push that can make their day! Be it displaying their name on the digital wall of fame, a flexible work schedule, or the weekend getaway you planned for the entire team, motivating factors such as these plays a crucial role in keeping your employees engaged.


The core of what we have been talking about so far! And if you ask me, the best way to engage your workforce, especially if you have millennials onboard, is to show them the result of their hard work.

Gone are the days when employees came to work just for the sake of it. They are equally eager and track how their work adds value to the company and, importantly, what their performance is compared to their peers!

Showing various KPI dashboards on wall-mount displays, client reviews & feedback, quarterly assessments of growth, and sales management are some ways your workers will remain engaged and deliver their best.


Last but certainly not least, workforce training plays a significant role in employee engagement- through microlearning, webinars, on-demand accessible learning materials on the company intranets, or full-fledged classroom training sessions.

Parting words

Employee engagement is paramount if you want to become a brand rather than remain a business. To keep your customers and clients happy and deliver what they look forward to, your employees must understand your vision and consider it their own. And for that, an innovative culture that allows them to explore, collaborate, communicate and have the liberty to express ideas is required. At the end of the day, it is always teamwork that makes the dream work!

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Shivangi Chatterjee

Shivangi writes for Pickcel. She consumes knowledge on the world of business & marketing at the same rate she consumes her cups of coffee. When she is not writing, you will find her reading books, grooving to music or admiring art.

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