3 Types of Employees: How to Spot the Silent Killer
After polling more than 25 million Americans within hundreds of organizations, Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace Report has developed interesting findings regarding employee engagement. The results have led Gallup to determine three types of employee engagement levels—engaged, disengaged, and actively disengaged—but what does this all mean? Here’s a quick breakdown of Gallup’s report to get us started!
3 Types of Employees: Engaged / Disengaged / Actively Disengaged
1. Engaged Employees -“Engaged employees work passionately and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward.”
2. Disengaged Employees -“Not engaged employees are essentially ‘checked out.’ They’re sleepwalking through their workday, putting time — but not energy or passion — into their work.”
3. Actively Disengaged Employees – “Actively disengaged employees aren’t just unhappy at work; they’re busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.”
Of the 100 million people in the U.S. workforce…
- Only 30 percent of U.S. workers are engaged and inspired at work.
- 20 percent of U.S. workers are actively disengaged.
- 50 perent of U.S. workers are present, but not engaged or inspired within their workplace.
Meaning that “70% of U.S. workers are either disengaged or actively disengaged within their organization.”
An actively disengaged employee may:
- Monopolize manager’s time
- Call in sick more often and have more work-related accidents
- Contribute to “shrinkage” (office supplies, product, etc.)
A disengaged employee may:
- Kill time and/or are “checked out”
- Show little or no concern for the success of the organization
- Revolve their day around breaks
Actively disengaged employees tend to hold a grudge toward the company. They go out of their way to disrupt operations or can even act out subconsciously. It’s the veteran employee who lost the promotion to the new guy; it’s the employee who justifies using the company card for a personal purchase because she feels undervalued. These actively disengaged employees, who count for 20 percent of the workforce, are costly to companies.
“Active disengagement costs U.S. employers an estimated $450 billion to $550 billion annually.”
Which is worse?
The Gallup report brings awareness to the increasing concern for disengaged employees overall, but what should employers and HR specialists really be watching out for? Gallup seems to focus on how damaging actively disengaged employees are; however, I believe that the disengaged employee causes the most damage to an organization. I mean after all, disengaged employees account for half of the American workforce polled. I think these disengaged employees are like “silent killers” (yes, just like your flatulent co-worker)! You may not be able to see or hear a disengaged employee, but his/her lack of effort and energy is sure to produce some stink within your organization.
Spotting Active Disengagement
How do you spot a disengaged silent killer? Well, it’s not that easy; you’re not a mind reader, and I don’t expect you to be. These silent killers do everything they are supposed to do. They show up to work and do the bare minimum of what is expected of them. BUT that is it! They don’t contribute further to your organization because they aren’t inspired or motivated.
To spot the silent killers in your office, take a good look around. It’s the employee who is last to arrive and first to leave. Chances are if the person isn’t exceeding your expectations, innovating new methods and solutions for organizational problems, or completely being a pain in your behind, he or she is probably just a plain ol’ disengaged employee! This doesn’t mean that the worker doesn’t have the potential or isn’t capable of being highly successful within your company; it just means that something needs to change.
Understanding the Impact of Engagement Levels
One aspect that needs to be appreciated more deeply is the direct and indirect impact of different levels of employee engagement on organizations. Engaged employees, who comprise about 30% of the workforce, are the driving force of an organization. Their energy and passion enhance productivity, innovation, and overall business growth. They tend to stay longer with the organization, contributing to reduced turnover rates and recruitment costs.
Disengaged employees comprise about half of the workforce and are somewhat akin to ‘neutral gear’ in an organization. They do their job, but without much enthusiasm or dedication. While they don’t negatively impact the company like actively disengaged employees, their lack of passion and energy can result in missed opportunities for innovation and growth. The sheer numbers of disengaged employees mean their collective lack of engagement significantly impacts the organization’s overall performance and culture.
Actively disengaged employees are the most detrimental to an organization. Their negativity reduces their productivity, can influence others, and create a toxic work environment. The cost to the organization isn’t just financial; it can also damage the company’s reputation, employee morale, and customer relationships.
What Can Organizations Do?
Addressing employee disengagement requires a holistic approach. It’s not enough to target the actively disengaged; companies must also focus on converting the disengaged into engaged employees. Here are a few strategies that organizations can adopt:
- Foster a Positive Organizational Culture: A positive culture that values each employee’s contributions can significantly increase engagement levels. Regularly acknowledging and rewarding good work, providing constructive feedback, and promoting a supportive work environment can all contribute to a positive culture.
- Provide Growth Opportunities: Employees are more likely to be engaged if they see opportunities for growth and development within the organization. Providing ongoing training, opportunities for upskilling, clear career paths, and fair promotion policies can help increase engagement.
- Encourage Work-Life Balance: Overworked employees are more likely to disengage. Encouraging a healthy work-life balance can boost morale and engagement. This could involve flexible work arrangements, promoting wellness initiatives, and ensuring employees take regular breaks and vacations.
- Enhance Communication: Open and transparent communication can help employees feel more connected and engaged. This could involve regular company performance updates, soliciting employee feedback, and encouraging open dialogues.
- Empower Employees: When employees feel they have a say in their work and can influence decisions, they are more likely to be engaged. Empowering employees can involve giving them autonomy in their work, involving them in decision-making processes, and encouraging innovation.
In conclusion, the Gallup report’s findings underscore the importance of addressing employee engagement proactively. Organizations must prioritize employee engagement with disengaged employees forming a substantial part of the workforce. By fostering a positive work environment and engaging employees at all levels, companies can enhance productivity, reduce costs, and create a more vibrant and successful organization.
As we move forward with our series on employee engagement, we will delve deeper into these strategies and more, providing valuable insights for employers seeking to boost engagement and cultivate a motivated, productive workforce. Stay tuned!