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Top Five Signs of Employee Disengagement and How to Resolve Them

January 23rd 2017

Recent research1 shows that just over half of employees (50.7%) are ‘not engaged’ with their work and nearly 17% (16.7%) of employees are ‘actively disengaged’.

Having an enthusiastic, engaged workforce is linked to several positive business outcomes, including increased productivity, higher customer satisfaction and greater financial success. 

If you’re concerned about falling customer figures, it could be time to look at your employees’ morale and motivation.

Here are the top five signs your employees are disengaged and what to do about it.

  1. Openly Critical – No guesswork required here. An employee, or group of employees, who frequently and openly complain about work-related issues, such as, workload, co-workers, management or workplace conditions are ‘actively disengaged’. They are also likely speak poorly about the organisation to people outside the company and may even voice frustrations in front of, or to, customers. 
  2. Lack of Initiative – Engaged employees will use their initiative to fulfil a task without prompting, problem-solve and put forward ideas to enhance a project’s success. On the other hand, disengaged employees need to be told what to do next and often reminded how. Less easy to spot are employees who lack initiative because they aren’t challenged by their role. These team members may produce high quality output but rarely, if ever, deviate from regular tasks, take-risks or suggest new ideas to drive company growth.
  3. Irresponsible – Employees who miss deadlines, are frequently late and/or take regular days off, flout company rules or take regular, extended cigarette and comfort breaks are actively disengaged and seeking to fill company time in other ways.  
  4. Low Appetite for Learning – Disengaged employees usually show little or no interest in learning more about the company, its wider goals or how their role or department function contributes to company objectives. They may also show little enthusiasm for internal or external-based development training to enhance their business understanding or advance their role within the company.
  5. Distanced – Some employees prefer to work alone to sharpen their focus or simply because they enjoy their independence. Although these employees may have a natural preference for introversion, tell-tale signs of disengagement are if detached employees rarely interact with co-workers, consistently produce sub-standard work, or appear un-moved by positive departmental news or big company wins.

The First Step of Reversing Employee Disengagement

Causes of employee disengagement are numerous and varied, ranging from poor leadership and unclear company vision to lack of staff feedback opportunities or managers’ unrealistic expectations of what team members can achieve.

Uncovering the root causes of employee dissatisfaction relies on managers and leaders asking the right questions, not just to determine employees’ concerns but to identify what employees’ actually want.

Employee satisfaction surveys, provided they are consistent and confidential, are a reliable tool for enabling employees to voice opinions about their roles, management style and work environment. A challenge many companies face is determining which employee research method is the most effective and appropriate solution for them.

Introducing Employee Experience Quality Analysis (EEQA)

One staff satisfaction research survey recommended time and again by top UK and international organisations is TTi Global Research’s Employee Experience Quality Analysis (EEQA).

Unlike self-assimilated survey tools which can lead to questions that employees don’t understand or valueless responses – EEQA places the employee at the heart of the research design framework.

The result is a unique survey experience customised to suit a company’s employees and the individual roles and responsibilities they undertake. As well as using company and industry-specific language, questions are constructed to stimulate the most insightful response to priority areas, such as, measuring job satisfaction, pay and benefits perception, relationship with management, work demands and career progression opportunities.

The EEQA survey is issued using the most effective method – whether that’s online, face-to-face or via telephone interview – ensuring relevant, purposeful answers and a high response rate. Following data analysis, results are fed back highlighting the precise improvement actions a company can take to fuel employee engagement.  

Key benefits of uncovering employee engagement issues with EEQA include:

  • Acquiring a complete, accurate view of your employees’ engagement levels
  • Precise measurements of workplace satisfaction across all employee groups and department functions
  • Comprehensive feedback which can leveraged to create targeted action plans to enhance employee engagement, in turn helping raise customer satisfaction
  • Increased trust and communication between workforce and managers, enabling positive company-wide changes to drive better productivity and performance.

To take your first step towards a happier, motivated workforce, contact TTi Global Research’s employee engagement research experts today or speak to us on 01753 21400.


  1. Gallup, US Employment Engagement, July 2016,