Do You Fire a Disengaged Employee? [Challenging HR Series]

March 4, 2015

You probably know some of the signs. If you’re paying attention, they’re not hard to spot. An employee is always complaining and making excuses. He’s not excited about his work and isn’t looking for ways to be successful. He still comes to work and leaves, day in and day out, but something’s just missing. That missing element is engagement.

If you’re still not sure which employees are disengaged, check out this infographic (made by our friends at Officevibe) that spells out 13 personality traits of disengaged employees.


But wait! Before you give up hope on one (or more) struggling employees, it’s worth it to try and re-engage them. Here are some ideas of ways you can attempt to help:

· Motivate and set goals. Maybe the employee doesn’t think his work contributes to anything. Maybe he doesn’t think others see value in what he’s doing. This is a chance to motivate and inspire. Show him how his work is integral in the company’s success. Tell the employee when he has done exceptional work in the past and set a goal to immerse himself again into a new project. Then check in often for progress.

· Offer additional training. Maybe you’re not challenging your employee enough. Has the employee been doing the same thing for too long? Why not offer some stretch goals and give him ways he can use his skills and do even more. Offer up training in an area where your department has a weakness or where he has shown an interest in the past, and see if the employee would be interested in gaining this skill. This can actually help everyone involved!

· Bring in direction from above. Invite an executive, HR or other visionary in the company to come to a department meeting and discuss the company’s mission and vision. This is a chance to inspire the whole team to do their jobs in a way that will be meaningful and fulfilling.

· Add flexibility. Is your employee stressed because of some home problems he can’t deal with because of your workplace’s inflexible environment? Why not offer to let the employee adjust work hours to accommodate family needs or even go down to part-time work if needed. Ask what could help and try to find a way to make work work for the employee again. Help him find balance or make work more manageable so he won’t resent it if that’s what’s causing some of the disengagement.

· Listen. Ask what would make the employee feel more fulfilled at work and actually listen. The employee could be on the wrong seat of the bus. Try to find a way to make the job be what would motivate him to feel more fulfilled. If you have wiggle room and can adjust tasks, do it. Ask how he see success—now and in the future. Can you make that happen within your means?

· Change it up. Sometimes this process will unearth things you didn’t know. You may learn that you’ve got even bigger problems. Do you have a lot of disengaged employees because the wrong person is in charge of a team? Do you have some confusion of processes that make it hard for people to stay focused on what really matters. When these things surface, do something about it. Learn as much as you can and then make changes.

These are all things you should consider before you write off a disengaged employee. It’s worth the effort to see if there’s something you can change to bring him back around.

Be sure to check back next week to discuss how to determine when an employee is beyond saving and know when to say when.

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Guest Blogger