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5 Signs of Disengaged Employees to be Watched

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5 Signs of Disengaged Employees to be Watched

While most organizations are focused on improving employee engagement levels; they often choose to ignore their disengaged employees. This can have a major impact on the workforce’s productivity and efficiency as well as the organization’s bottom line. Hence, organizations must watch out for these 5 signs of disengaged employees to take appropriate action.

Recent research by Gallup shows that around 17.2% of the workforce within most organizations is actively disengaged.

According to this research, the cost per disengaged employee for the organization is almost 34% of the employee’s salary.

What are the Reasons for Disengagement?

One of the key aspects of handling disengaged employees is to understand the reasons leading to their disengagement.

It helps the organization tackle the root causes of disengagement.

It also helps them proactively identify all employees, who might be impacted by similar factors.

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There might be multiple reasons for disengagement:

What are the Common Signs of Disengaged Employees?


Contrary to popular belief, disengaged employees might not necessarily be the least productive members of the workforce.

In fact, in most cases, a large percentage of disengaged employees were once highly engaged employees.

By addressing the root causes of disengagement, organizations can minimize its impact on business growth, goodwill, and productivity.

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Hence, they need to keep a lookout for the most common signs of disengaged employees. Here are a few of those:

1. Sustained Drop in Employee Productivity


One of the key indicators of disengagement amongst the members of the workforce is a sudden decline in employee productivity.

Missed deadlines, falling productivity, drop in quality or increased error rate are all common symptoms.

However, organizations should monitor these factors over some time to understand whether they are temporary or not.

2. Withdrawal from Organizational Activities

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Another important sign that organizations need to look out for is the social withdrawal symptoms in their employees.

If an otherwise social employee becomes quiet and withdrawn at work, then there is something amiss.

Less participation in organizational activities or their lack of enthusiasm for new projects are also signs of withdrawal.

By adopting such an attitude, employees might be trying to convey their distress to their employers.

3. Gradual Increase in Absenteeism


When employees become disengaged, they simply prefer to stay away from work resulting in a higher absenteeism rate. 

Such employees generally tend to come up with a wide range of excuses to justify their absence from work.

A sudden spurt in sick leaves by a seemingly healthy employee or a rising number of family emergencies could be other signs.

Organizations should verify the reasons behind such changes in employee attendance levels especially when they have had good records.

4. Increase in Workplace Discord

Impact of Fun @ Work Activities on Employee Engagement

If organizations see frequent discord at the workplace involving specific employees, then they should investigate further.

Happy and engaged employees rarely lash out at or visibly express their anger toward their peers or even managers.

So, if certain employees exhibit such behavior regularly, organizations must try and understand what is driving it.

5. Decline in Communication

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It is quite easy to confuse reduced communication with withdrawal exhibited by disengaged employees.

However, often employees may continue to participate in organizational activities, but they might gradually cut down their communication with others.

Such employees may not speak much in team meetings or with their supervisors. They might not respond properly when asked for feedback or input.

They might even choose to stay mum about the challenges and difficulties they are facing at work.

All these aspects, when viewed together, can forewarn the organization about the potential disengagement of the concerned employees.


Organizations should look out for these usual signs of disengaged employees and take timely action to improve employee engagement levels in the organization.

Sagar Chaudhuri

Sagar Chaudhuri is the Co-Founder and CEO of HiFives. He is an HR Tech Evangelist with over 25 years of experience in the corporate world and entrepreneurship. In the past, Sagar has worked with companies such as Genpact, Infosys, and ICICI Bank in leadership roles. He has an engineering degree from IIT Kharagpur and an MBA from IIM Lucknow. Connect on LinkedIn

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HiFives is a global employee rewards, recognition and engagement SaaS platform that enables organizations to digitize, automate and transform their employee experience. It is used by 100+ large enterprises, small businesses and startups in manufacturing, retail, technology, financial services and media, across 25+ countries.