You don’t need to call security or contract a couple of heavies to unceremoniously bounce the undesirable from the office — we’re not talking about a direct, flat-out refusal to leave. We are talking about that actively disengaged 24 percent of staff that characterizes the modern workplace – according to Gallup – and represents the sharp end of the global employee disengagement epidemic.
These actively disengaged employee are so demotivated and disconnected from work that, in a psychological sense, they have pretty much quit. They are “unhappy, unproductive at work, and liable to spread negativity to coworkers,” — but the real problem is that have failed to resign and leave the building. They are holding their organizations back.
So, what should you so if a worker “quits,” but fails to leave?
There are several strategies you can try. You could attempt to reinvigorate the employee by setting new goals and targets. Don’t wait until the end of the year to do this: move your team from annual to quarterly appraisals. Research from Bersin by Deloitte shows that employers who set quarterly performance goals see a 31 percent greater return on their investments. This is a great way to reinvigorate your team. By setting forward-looking performance and development expectations, there will be no hiding place for anyone, particularly the disengaged.
Actually, it will be quite stressful for the disengaged, as they will be asked to reengage with the job and process on a quarterly basis. The disengaged will be compelled to come out from under their rocks and engage with the process. This may either push them to finally leave the organization in protest, or reconnect with the HR process, open their minds again, and get back on the path to engagement. Apathy will not be an option.
Another key strategy is delivering a new, inspiring, and compelling vision to the team. Make sure that every team member — particularly the disengaged ones — has a clear role to play in the new vision and an opportunity to make a visible difference. This strategy could act as a kickstarter to wake your actively disengaged employees from their slumber.
If these more generalized strategies still fail to reach your most disengaged employees, you may want to go down a more individualized route, which could involve a personalized stay interview with your team members to find out what may be troubling them and see if there are any specific interventions that may help them to reengage with the business. You may be able to adapt their role or give them a new, challenging, and exciting project; they may also have their own ideas.
If actively disengaged employees still linger even after all these interventions, you may want to take more direct action. Many actively disengaged lingerers would take an easy option out of the business, if it were given to them.
You may not want to hand out golden goodbyes, but you may be able to offer some of the actively disengaged the option to reduce to part-time or freelance — voluntarily, of course. This will give them a kind of halfway-house exit and the headspace they need to properly consider their options. In my experience, this kind of approach can be quite effective in forcing the actively disengaged into some kind of decision one way or the other.
The most direct way of encouraging the disengaged to leave is to follow the approach of Zappos and Amazon, who pay disengaged staff to leave. These companies have a policy where disengaged employees under can, under certain conditions, receive a compelling sum of money to resign. This is an effective way to jolt the actively disengaged from their comfortable malaise and bump them into action.
There are plenty of strategies that employers can adopt to encourage employees who have mentally checked out to leave the building. I would like to hear what strategies you have adopted to reanimate the actively disengaged in your organizations.