30 Ways to Disengage Your Employees

Categories: Advice for Doing Business in the Philippines, Advice for HR Professionals, Advice for Start-ups and Entrepreneurs


Your company’s HR specialist or recruitment consultant is tasked with recruiting and retaining talents who are eager to be an integral part of the organization. This vitality resulted in an employee engagement level of 82%, according to a research of ADP, Evolution of Work 2.0: The Me vs. We Mindset.

However, this means that there are still around 20% of employees who are disengaged. A Custom Insight survey found that managers are the drivers behind employee disengagement, with 49% of the respondents giving this response.

Lack of respect for or conviction in the management’s organizational direction and lack of basic needs (compensation, workplace conditions, etc.) can also cause disengagement.

These are some of the things you may be doing that can disengage employees.

1. Controlling or calculating their every move

Tracking and timing your employees’ every step will make them feel like they are machines, causing them to feel detached, lose morale, and even underperform.

2. Breaking promises     

Management likes to make commitments to employees to encourage them to work harder. Most of the time, though, they bite off more than they can chew and fail to deliver.

3. Micromanaging

As a superior and an individual, you work differently from others. But when you micromanage, you’re basically telling your employees—who, themselves, are unique individuals—that your method is the only right one to do.

4. Making them do the same work style

When you track and micromanage employees, you are likely forcing them to work similarly. It may seem practical for the management, but homogenizing your workforce may alienate a large part of them.

5. Breaking their trust

There are several reasons employees lose trust and confidence in the management. It could be the lack of a plan and process to run the company efficiently or not backing up your words with actions.

6. Not asking for and giving feedback

Give feedback to employees so that they know if they’re doing things right or wrong, and listen to their feedback about you as the manager so that you’re also informed about your shortcomings.

7. Not working on the feedback

Listening to feedback should not end with just that. If you don’t try to at least work on those criticisms, employees will feel like their voices fell on deaf ears.

8. Constantly offering negative criticism

Workers are likely to make mistakes occasionally, but that doesn’t warrant negative criticisms from you every time. Critiques should encourage them to do better, not bog them down.

9. Pointing out only their mistakes

When you just point out your employees’ mistakes and not their contributions, you’re basically telling them that everything they’re doing is wrong, which is unlikely and not a good motivator.

10. Not letting them make their own decisions

Once you’ve assigned a task or duty to your employees, you’re giving them the power to decide what steps to take to finish the job, and even improve the process to make things easier for them.

If you’re going to end up dictating what to do, then you’re not letting them think for themselves.

11. Ignoring their work

Make sure to recognize the work of your employees, no matter how significant or little the contributions are to the success of the company.

12. Discrediting their success

When you disprove or doubt the talent of your employees that lead to their success, you’re showing that you have no confidence in their skills.

13. Taking credit for their work

If an employee or the team did something that gave positive results for the company, it is only right for them to gain recognition for it. Sadly, some superiors would instead take credit for the hard work.

The worst part is they didn’t even clock in any hours for it.

14. No rewards

Sometimes, employees aren’t very expressive about their desire to be rewarded for a job well done because they may feel like they don’t deserve it.

Be sensitive to their needs and offer a little something for the additional efforts.

15. Not letting employees work together

Teamwork is just one of the many factors that drive success. But if you’re running in a system that won’t even allow interaction between teams or members, then you are missing out on implementing a crucial business strategy.

16. Disregarding team collaboration

Discouraging employee interaction is a blatant disregard of the benefits of teamwork and collaboration for your organization.

17. Belittling them

Instead of feeling insecure and making the employee feel inferior to you, work to improve your skills or encourage the employee to take on tasks where his or her skills may be beneficial.

18. Blaming them

When you place blame on a single worker, you’re not teaching them how to take responsibility. You’re just showing them that you only care about yourself.

19. Being secretive

Transparency is one of the things workers look for in a company—they want to know why they’re doing the work that they need to do, not just because their boss told them to do it.

20. No flexibility

Don’t be afraid of being flexible when it comes to changing sides or reversing decisions—especially if new information comes your way—if it benefits your employees and the company.

21. Not training them

Coaching benefits both management and employees, as it fosters the development and harmonious relationship.

When you teach your workers, you’re helping them learn new skills that will be advantageous for the progress of the company.

22. Not having clear expectations

Make sure to discuss with employees on their first day at work what their roles are, as well as the goals and expectations of the company.

23. Making them work during rest days

When you make employees work during their weekends or rest days, you are not just causing disengagement within the company, but also disengagement between them and their loved-ones.

Stress and a lack of work-life balance are enough reasons for them to leave.

24. Discounting their feelings

It’s hard to disregard emotions when at work, especially when it’s starting to affect the personal lives or feelings of the employees.

As a manager, you must be prepared to listen and empathize with what they’re going through. When they feel like their emotions are being discounted, they get more disengaged.

25. Showing favoritism

Acknowledge that managers will always have a favorite and suggest ways to deal with this.

Treat everyone with respect equally and assure them that they are an integral part of the organization whether they’re doing a good job or having a bad week.

26. Overworking them

There is no greater driving force behind an employee resignation than stress and fatigue due to overwork.

27. Stagnating growth and development

As mentioned, learning new skills can be beneficial for the growth of the company and fosters engagement. So, when employees stay stagnant and not learn anything new, they’re also not doing anything to help the company grow.

Help them develop their strengths and overcome weaknesses.

28. Never challenging your employees

Sometimes, work can feel repetitive, and employees would want a challenging task to work on to break the monotony. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just make sure that it will not get in the way of their daily duties and that they learn something from it.

29. Destroying their sense of work

Disengagement can make a worker feel like a mere number or an expendable property. When that happens, they lose all sense and meaning in their work, which can affect them physically, mentally, and emotionally.

They want their job to be purposeful and mean something in the grander scheme of things.

30. Not giving them the right environment to work at

Something as seemingly trivial as the office can cause disengagement if the employees are not in the proper workspace. The right office depends on the type of work that they do, but to put it simply: space should be able to encourage productivity and creativity, not kill it.

No company would want their employee to feel detached, as it affects their performance and productivity, as well as the development of the company itself in the long run.

Organizations need to start treating their workers with the respect they deserve because motivating the workforce is the only way for them to succeed.

Ron Cullimore