Five Signs Your Employees Might Not Be Engaged - Part 2

Yesterday we began a discussion of the perils of employee engagement issues and how these issues could lead to employee turnover. After covering the importance of (1) absenteeism and presenteeism and (2) under-utilization of employees’ skills, three signs remain that clearly identify potential employee engagement issues in organizations.

Sign 3: Lack of Employee Input

One sign of disengagement may be a lack of discussion or objections in meetings. Is the employee complacent, doing only what he or she is told? Do they never ask questions about why the task is done this way or how it could be done more effectively or efficiently? If this is the case, the employee may be disengaged.

Employee EngagementWhen employees have the opportunity to question and provide input about what they do and how they do it, they often devise better methods to complete tasks. This means they are thinking, they are involved, and they are engaged in their work and with the organization.

When one hears crickets because the room is so silent when asking for an opinion or an objective point of view during a meeting, an engagement issue may be present. The same Towers Watson study mentioned in our last blog found that leadership and the level of interest and support from executives are critical to successful employee engagement initiatives. Leader behaviors and actions most important to employees included: “being able to grow the business, showing sincere interest in the employee’s well-being, behaving consistently with the organization’s core values, and earning the employees’ trust and confidence.” Spurring involvement by employees in discussions and meetings can help develop that trust and confidence.

Leaders and managers of others are not perfect; they too make mistakes. It is good when employees know that leadership can make mistakes and it is even more valuable when employees hear them acknowledge their errors and the lessons learned from them. Creating a coaching culture where employees are presented the same opportunity to question, make mistakes and learn engages employees. Recent studies have shown that organizations that embrace coaching by enhancing their managers’ abilities to effectively coach others increased employee engagement as much as 33% and improved business results as much as 133%.

Pay attention to the silence. A lack of objections or discussion does not mean everything is going swimmingly and that all parties are in agreement.

Sign 4: Rocking the Boat

Five Signs DiceGossip and politics are present to some extent in every organization; however, too much creates a toxic environment and drives employee engagement and productivity down. Some people get involved in the gossip and rumors, while others avoid it, fearing the possibility of losing work friends or, even worse, jeopardizing their career aspirations. Where office politics are rampant, it’s not unusual for highly engaged employees who can’t tolerate it to leave the organization and take their expertise with them. It’s critical to address and reduce the issues of politics and gossip in the workplace quickly, even if it means letting someone go.

Recently a client took action and dismissed an employee, not because of a lack of work productivity, but because the individual was creating a toxic environment for the rest of the staff. Creating a toxic environment is one form of “active” disengagement. An organization cannot afford to retain employees who are actively sabotaging the company’s success.

Sign 5: Insights from Exit Interviews

Exit InterviewsMany organizations today conduct exit interviews – the idea is a great one – to find out why employees are leaving the company. Unfortunately, the answers provided are rarely straightforward. Most employees know it’s a small world, and they’re not willing to overtly state their reason for leaving. After all, that information might get to their next boss and it might not be quite the same story told during their interview.

Also, employees are wise; they know not to burn bridges. They may want to be rehired by the company in the future and, as a result, may not be as honest in an exit interview as Human Resources would like. Individuals may also prefer to avoid conflict or the office politics that go on in an organization and as such will navigate the terrain of their exit interviews with extra caution.

Outplacement ServicesMany organizations choose to have exit interviews these conducted by an outside firm so all the information collected is confidential and employees are more open to being honest about their reasons for leaving the organization. Themes can emerge from exit interviews providing insight into voluntary departures. Themes vary from all of the topics discussed in this blog to a lack of career development opportunities and beyond. A Gallup poll found that 32% of respondents cited “lack of career advancement or promotional opportunities,” as the #1 reason for leaving a current job. This same report found, for the fourth consecutive year, that career opportunities remained the top driver to positively impact overall engagement levels. Seeing high numbers of staff depart for “personal” reasons may be a sign of an engagement issue.

Today, when there are fewer talented people to fill open positions in organizations across the globe, it is critical to examine employee engagement processes. If people are not finding personal satisfaction and professional/career development opportunities they will likely leave the organization quickly, even without having another position. Such was the case for the young man who left his plumbing job; he did not have a new job. He left first and then put his career transition plan in place. This seems to say that people would rather be unemployed and searching for a job they will enjoy than be miserable in their current working conditions.

 Sign 1: Irrelevant Work or Under Utilization 

Sign 2: Absenteeism and "Presenteeism"

Sign 3: Lack of Employee Input

Sign 4: Rocking the Boat 

Sign 5: Insights from Exit Interviews

Be the organization that provides an engaging workplace. It is a benefit – you will retain more talented and engaged employees, which reduces your costs of recruiting. By examining these five signs of employee engagement issues in your organization, you'll enable your workforce to obtain business success. Start today!


Career Partners International provides top quality talent management services to organizations of all sizes. Their offices around the world help assessengagedevelop, and transition talent in any industry. To find out more about Career Partners International and how you can maximize your organizational performance, reach out to an office near you or contact us today!


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  1. Travis Jones's avatar
    Travis Jones
    | Permalink
    No matter what the generation in the workforce, if the employees are not learning, they are leaving. You can learn from each of the 5 signs and of course if they are leaving, you will in many cases find out they had not learned somewhere along the line from the first four. Teachable moments for every leader/manager to coach employees in engagement is a daily event. Coach them for success at every level
  2. Kim Mills's avatar
    Kim Mills
    | Permalink
    Excellent point Travis! Unfortunately, too many managers do not take a coaching approach toward employees to help them grow and develop. We've found that a coaching approach makes employees feel like their managers are invested in their success (read into this feels like a team). And when there's invest from the managers that feels supportive to the employees, employees are more likely to invest their discretionary efforts (e.g. engage)in the organization!

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