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Identify & Reengage the Disengaged

Engagement can lead to marriage or ultimately divorce. Recognize disengagement in your employees or risk paying high alimony fees.


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Over 370 HR professionals, business leaders (in chief executive roles), managers, and employees participated in surveys and interviews, to help create this research.

Your Challenge

  • It costs a lot of time and money to identify and turn around one disengaged employee.
  • While it is much easier to rely on organization and department wide initiatives implemented as a result of an engagement survey, disengaged individuals are often hidden by survey results and therefore ignored.
  • One disengaged employee can have a negative effect on the entire department and cost the organization a great deal.
  • Identifying and turning around an individual who has become disengaged is difficult but imperative to the success of your department.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • A manager owns the relationship with the employee, but the employee owns their own engagement level. HR is there to facilitate and support the manager throughout the process, but not to take on the employee’s problem.
  • Once a disengaged employee is identified, the first conversation you have with that employee, regarding the change in their behavior, will make or break the employee’s future engagement.
  • Don’t waste anymore time or money on employees you can’t turn around. Recognize when this is the case, and be willing to let the employee go.
  • Engagement is personal. You cannot apply the same process and solution to every disengaged employee. You need to adapt your methods to each situation, but follow some clear and recommended guidelines.

Impact and Result

  • Identify disengagement by watching for common signs and symptoms, getting to know your employees, and heightening awareness around particular events that may act as triggers. Pay close attention to new patterns of behavior in order to catch disengagement before it’s too late. Don’t underestimate the effect of events inside and outside of the work environment on your employee’s engagement level.
  • Resolving employee disengagement is not a structured, cookie-cutter process. However, using the four key components of a good conversation will help you work with the employee to turn around disengagement. Take the time to have a thoughtful conversation, and commit to an action plan that you can support.

Research & Tools

1. Understand the importance of individual employees' engagement, and identify those who are disengaged

Build an action plan with disengaged employees to reengage them in their roles.

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Search Code: 28256
Published: June 15, 2011
Last Revised: March 14, 2014