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How to improve employee engagement (when it’s at an all time low)

Believe it or not, low employee engagement is one of the main factors influencing your organisation’s productivity.

Studies have demonstrated that companies with highly engaged employees outperform companies with low engagement by 202%. You can have a flawless work process, with the latest tools to encourage growth, but if your employees’ hearts aren’t in it, their productivity will be sluggish.

If your staff is dedicated to achieving their full potential, your organisation will gain a real competitive advantage. However, raising engagement levels is not an easy task. It takes effort, time, and investment.

To do this, you need to identify a lack of engagement within your team before it becomes a bigger problem.

In this blog post, you will learn how to deal with disengaged employees in a professional and empathetic manner and some of the early signs to look out for.

What is employee engagement?

How to improve employee engagement

According to HR specialists, engagement is defined based on several behaviors such as:

  • Belief in your company’s mission and positive attitude
  • An understanding of the business process (the employee is not just a chess piece but is part of the bigger picture)
  • Willingness to go the proverbial extra mile
  • Desire to learn and improve their skills on a regular basis
  • Interest in other aspects of the project, not just their own work
  • Respect towards other colleagues and superiors

An employee who displays all these behaviors is immersed in their work and is willing to work harder to make things better.

However, it’s important to understand that engagement is a two-way street. You cannot have people with high levels of engagement if your organisation doesn’t provide the right environment and the rewards to maintain it. One innovative reward that can significantly boost employee engagement and loyalty is offering support with student loan refinancing. By helping employees refinance their student loans, companies can provide a tangible benefit that directly impacts their financial well-being and shows a deep level of support for their personal goals and challenges. Moreover, for individuals seeking to obtain loans with no credit, refinancing their student loans can serve as a strategic step to improve their overall credit profile.

Early signs of low employee engagement

Disengaged employees are quite easy to spot as they will be the ones struggling to stay on task. They’ll miss deadlines, provide low-quality work, and ask for more sick days than the rest.

Before this happens, here are the top three things to be on the lookout for and tips on how to improve employee engagement:

Employees who are withdrawn or quiet

Disclaimer: Some people are naturally withdrawn and quiet, so it’s not necessarily a sign of disengagement if this is regular behaviour.

Still, if someone you know to be active is suddenly less engaged in meetings and with their work in general, you may want to pay attention. This is easy to miss in large and medium-sized teams, but it is a clear sign that something is bothering them.

Solution: You may want to pay more attention to the quality of the work they turn in and follow their progress within the project. This behaviour may be temporary, or it may grow in time, but it should not go unaddressed.

Try scheduling a face-to-face meeting and try to see if the problem is from within the organisation (they’re not happy with their current situation) or personal (maybe they are a new parent or they are going through a difficult time personally.)

Be supportive and make sure the person feels heard and understood (here are a few tips on how to do this).

Changes in Pattern

Changes in Pattern

People who are engaged and passionate about their activities can be relied on to produce their best work.

So, when things seem a bit off, a bit different, you should be paying attention. Changes in pattern can happen progressively or suddenly, but they should always be taken into consideration.

A change in pattern can be showing up late for work several days in a row, being withdrawn (discussed above), being more/less aggressive in discussions or looking more tired/upset than usual for example.

Solution: While some changes in pattern are not always about work (or necessarily bad), you should take notice and talk about it if the behaviour starts to affect the employee’s work ethic and quality. Be considerate and try to learn more about the change.

Also, if there is a problem, offer clear and active solutions. This way, employees will know they can trust you and your organisation to help them through difficulties at work.

Exhaustion and inefficiency


Overworked employees are not more efficient and/or productive. It is a common trap that employers fall into because they want to keep their top talent working harder and faster.

But how much is too much? According to a recent study, an individual should not work more than 55 hours a week. Also, the same study suggests that overworking employees increases stress levels, which in time, can lead to health problems.

An employee who feels like they’re wearing the entire workload on their shoulders without proper compensation or recognition of their effort will leave. No one wants to be a workhorse!

Solution: Each person has a different approach towards work and life in general and it’s your job to create the best possible work environment for them.

Start by understanding your employees’ personality and adapt their workload accordingly. Also, if people feel overworked or spread too thin, one solution would be to integrate tools for collaborative working that allow people to work remotely. This way, the focus will be set on results and not on time spent in the office.

You can try to integrate tools like Workday to manage your employees while promoting collaborative working. However, with so many options in this tool, seeking help from Workday consulting firms is highly recommended to get the most out of this platform.

Moving forward

Now it’s your time to decide how to move forward. Of course, the most important thing is to work on your employee engagement and increase it. You should never forget to take care of your employees’ wellbeing and opportunities for development.

Also, you need to learn how to let people go. Some people are just not the right for your company, so it’s important to understand that and create an easy process for them to leave their job without any bridges being burnt.

Some people may just have different goals and ambitions, so even if someone puts a resignation letter on your table, it doesn’t mean that they do not respect your company’s mission. They just have their own path and you need to be ready for it.

A few final words…

Happiness in the workplace is crucial for employee engagement and increased productivity. However, this means different things for different people, which is why a good leader will find creative ways to keep everyone motivated.

Talk to your team members and be clear about your expectations when it comes to performance, attendance, and productivity. And keep in mind, a team of happy employees is a strong competitive advantage for your organisation.

Written by Erika Rykun.

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