Real Research: The Roots of Disengagement Are Not As Deep As We Think

Real Research: The Roots of Disengagement Are Not As Deep As We Think

Employee engagement has been a buzzword for years, and even more so in periods of economic downturn where companies are scrambling to ensure that their valued staff and talents still find it meaningful to strive for the organisation. Yet, after spending a huge amount of time and money on employee engagement surveys and recovery actions, there seems to be a percentage of staff who are not only disengaged, but actively disengaged. Added together, these employees could bring quite a significant negative impact to the workforce and performance outcomes. Do you know what causes their disengagement?



According to Gallup, a global consulting firm whose key practice areas include employee engagement and talent management, disengaged employees are passionless about their jobs and actively disengaged employees are thought to deliberately act out to undermine a team or company because of their dissatisfaction with work. 

The CEO of Gallup said this: "The single biggest decision you make in your job – bigger than all of the rest – is who you name manager.  When you name the wrong person manager, nothing fixes that bad decision.  Not compensation, not benefits – nothing.”

Can you see how the direct line manager may have a role to play in all of the following reasons for dissatisfaction with work?

  • Employees do not experience their work as personally meaningful
  • They do not have autonomy or empowerment
  • Rules at work are not applied equally and fairly
  • Employees do not get constructive and useful feedback
  • Team members do not have supportive or collaborative relationships amongst the team
  • Individuals do not feel like they are developed



Disengagement should not be something to be feared or avoided. Here are solutions for leaders and direct line mangers to fight disengagement:

  1. Create a climate of connection in day-to-day interactions. Start talking about the small things and eventually the bigger significant things will surface
  2. Managers should initiate relationship building so that he/she knows their staff’s strengths and weaknesses, and can leverage on those to personally develop each individual
  3. Management communication cannot be left to senior leaders alone; managers must be capable in communicating clear and timely messages top-bottom, bottom-top.  Assumptions or distortions in messages at this level will create disillusion in time to come
  4. Support from leaders will empower managers to take positive steps in doing all of the above. Appropriate recognition of their efforts will also go a long way in the engagement journey


How do you feel this research can be relevant to your organisation? We would love to hear your opinions at!