5 Signs of a Disengaged Employee



Active employee involvement in the workplace is an integral part of achieving a successful and productive business. According to Leigh Branham, the author of The Seven Hidden Reasons Employees Leave, 89% of bosses believe their employees leave the organization because they desire more money; this is not true. It has been recorded that a mere 12% of employees actually leave for this reason. Disengaged employees can cost you millions—here are five signs that your employee is disengaged.

Drop in Productivity

When given a task, it should be completed to the best of your ability. When given a task as a disengaged employee, you do not have the desire to exceed the expectations of that task. Lowered productivity means less input from the employee, missed deadlines and a lower quality of work. They don’t participate in the workplace as much as they used to, if at all.

It is everybody's dream to climb the ranks in their ideal of a perfect job. They want a job that they will enjoy every day of the week, and sometimes, even if this dream is achieved, the rose-tinted glasses can become fogged. Employees lose focus of their long- or short-term objectives and no longer care as much about the job that needs to be completed.

Arriving Late and Leaving Early

The old saying about the early bird gets the worm can be applied not just to early risers starting their days earlier than the rest of the population, but also to waking up ready to get the job done. When you suspect an employee of being disengaged or distracted, look at when they are clocking in and out. This is always a good indicator of whether your employee wants to be at work and cares about their job.

In some cases, the person may have just finished their work early or have other things they must get done that afternoon; however, if this happens too often, it is a sign of disengagement from the workplace.

Withdrawal from the Workplace

Most jobs nowadays take pride in their social functions and holiday parties. Most of the time, employees are thrilled that they get a few hours for socializing and a break from work throughout the day. Your disengaged employee may not mind the gatherings, but they probably won’t want to contribute to the party fees or bring anything to contribute to the food/games. In the case of a normal day in the office, disengaged employees often don’t ask many questions or share their opinions during meetings. They do as much as possible to distance themselves from further company growth.

Quality of Work

Not unlike productivity, quality of work is all about why a person has the job they have. If they like the job, their work will be well thought out and done to their highest standard—if only because they want to keep their current job. Or, they liked the job when they got it, but their rose-tinted glasses have long since faded and they no longer enjoy the work they do. If you notice an employee repeatedly sends in work that is not up to par with their past work, it is a good indicator that the job may not be for them, or they need a little push in the right direction to re-engage themselves.


When thinking of teenagers, the picture most people see is a grumbling student complaining about waking up early and their “horrendous” workload. Even though it may not be uncommon to hear your employees complain or joke about the job, excessive complaining is never a good sign. Positivity is a major part of keeping a well-run and productive system going, negativity will only slow it down. Employees that spend free time gossiping and complaining are actively disengaged. When an employee is spreading negativity—purposely or not—it lowers the productivity and quality of work for everyone else as well as themselves.


We hope you’ll keep an eye out for these signs of a disengaged employee in your workplace. Coastal Human Resource Group, Inc. is a Human Resource Outsourcer (HRO). We serve as a full-service human resources department for small and medium sized businesses throughout the Southeast. Our Human Resource management services include hiring and firing procedures, compliance, training, audits, risk management, employee handbooks and SUTA administration. If you think an HRO is the right fit for your business, call us at 251-478-7444 or visit our website www.coastal-hr.com to learn more.