Employee engagement: Are You the Cause of Your Workforce Disengagement?

Employee engagement is a topic that we hear about all the time.  

Are You the Cause of Your Workforce Disengagement? What Can You Do About It?

Executives all know that a highly engaged workforce means the difference between a company that outperforms its competition and one that fails to grow.  Yet the question is always, how do we get an engaged workforce? A good question for sure and perhaps instead we should be asking, “what interferes with our company having highly engaged employees”?  It’s often easier to recognize what isn’t working and focus on improving those areas than high-level tips to consider.

A recent Gallup survey indicated that 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged at work.  That is a staggering, and depressing number. Imagine what could happen to your organization’s performance and the impact it could have on revenue, customer service, productivity and more if you were able to reduce that number to 70, 60, 50% of your workforce not being engaged.  

At the core of employee engagement is relationships.  And relationships that are built on trust. Why employees aren’t engaged ultimately comes down to feeling like they can’t trust the person and/or company they work for and believe they are seen as valued and important.  AND this all comes down to communication. See how easy a solution this is…simply communicate more effectively and more often and your workforce engagement challenges will improve! Except you think you are already communicating well so that couldn’t be the answer.

Even though it’s always about communication let’s take a look at answering the question above:  what interferes with your company having highly engaged employees?


  • Inconsistent or non-existent interactions with employees unless there is a problem is a problem.  Employees who feel that the only time you speak to them is when there’s a problem aren’t going to feel valued as what they hear is criticism, regardless of how well you package the message.  Thinking you can talk to them once in a blue moon and that you have a relationship with them is faulty thinking at best.


  • Not really listening when they talk to you.  This is more than simply putting away your phone and not looking at emails while talking to someone.  It means you have to be truly present, focused on them and what they are saying and what is meaningful to them.  If you walk away from an interaction with someone and you don’t really understand the issue or worse yet can’t even remember what the conversation was about, shame on you!
  • Celebration is not part of the culture.  I’m not talking about parties, I’m talking about celebrating individual’s successes. Generally, you are talking about what’s not working, what’s missing and how far yet you/they/the company has to go instead of celebrating the steps taken to move the ball, how far you/they/the company has come.  It’s a huge downer for everyone.
  • There’s lots of talk and very little action.  How often do your employees hear they will be offered training or management is going to sit down with them and discuss their career aspirations and come up with a plan for their development?  Or are they hearing about changes the company will make in technology, leadership or anything else that will improve their work lives and ability to perform at their best and nothing actually happens?  Giving employees what they see as false hope demoralizes them and you will soon find them disengaged.
  • Poorly handled or inconsistent employee reviews.  Every human being wants to feel like they are doing a good job and others notice and appreciate it.  I truly believe this. If you aren’t carving out time regularly to have discussions about their performance, where they are doing brilliantly and where they still need development they have no clue as to how you feel about their performance, which in their minds translates to ‘you don’t care about me’.  
  • Being the ‘do as I say but not as I do manager’.  Asking others to do, be, act differently than you are modelling for the workforce then you are sending the message that you don’t need to be accountable to the same standards, which doesn’t demonstrate good leadership.  
  • Flaunting your new toys when raises are skimpy.  A business owner I know hasn’t given even cost of living raises the last two years and bonuses are a thing of the past.  Yet he comes to work and talks to everyone about his new boat and how he’s taking a month off to go sailing. He thinks he’s sharing and engaging with them.  I bet they think he’s stingy or taking money for himself but not them or…whatever they think they aren’t thinking he cares about them.
  • You wear your emotions on your sleeve.  Everyone around you knows when you are in a bad mood and has learned to stay clear of you when you are.  Maybe you come in one day happy and communicative and two days later you are angry and ignore people, so they never have any idea who is going to show up that day.  Hard to feel connected to someone who is so erratic.
  • Assuming if there is a problem or they are unhappy they will come to you.  When you are in management you have a power, or minimally an authority attached to your role and title that leaves many people uncomfortable about sharing their concerns.  I’m not suggesting you have to go around daily and ask everyone if everything is hunky dory but don’t assume no news is good news. No news means you aren’t asking or have created the culture that encourages employees to share.



Employee engagement isn’t a sometimes thing.  

It isn’t something to think about when you have turnover or problems for then it’s too late.  Everything you do and say communicates something to others around you, even if you don’t recognize it does.  Relationships happen one interaction at a time and employees will look at those interactions, form opinions and they ever action after that is based on those views, good or bad.  

If you take the time to recognize your role in employee engagement, how communication is at the core of whether they are engaged or not you have taken the first step.

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