What to Do When Employees Check Out

14th October 2021

Are your employees missing deadlines? Are they suddenly doing the bare minimum when they used to go above and beyond? Are they withdrawing from social activities?

These are all symptoms of a checked-out employee, but thankfully there’s a cure.

Dips in employee engagement happen in most companies from time to time, but it can be a costly issue if not addressed. In fact, disengaged employees cost the UK £52-£70 billion per year in lost productivity.

In this article, we explore why employees check out mentally from their work, the signs to look out for and offer a 3-step strategy to help your business promote engagement and support checked-out employees.

Why Is Employee Engagement Important to a Company’s Success

Engaged employees are the (not-so) secret to a company’s success. They help drive the organisation forward by delivering above and beyond, striving to reach the company’s goals at every turn. This productivity translates into profitability if it’s harnessed and nurtured properly.

When companies prioritise employee engagement, they also benefit from a lower churn rate and lower hiring costs. Engaging employees (and keeping them engaged) is key for retaining valuable talent, as it’s a key determinant of employee satisfaction. When employees are happy and satisfied at work, they’re more committed to their employer, meaning they’re more likely to stick around. Checked-out employees, on the other hand, lose interest and might check out of the company for good if their issues aren’t remedied.

Signs an Employee Has Checked Out

Disengagement can present itself in various forms. The employee stops sharing ideas or contributing in meetings. Their productivity comes to a halt. They begin missing deadlines. They might even start taking more days off just to avoid going to work.

Not only does disengagement negatively impact the employee’s work, but it can also sabotage the efforts (and happiness) of other employees. For instance, disengaged employees are usually sapped of all productivity, leading them to do the bare minimum of what’s required of them. Other employees may then need to pick up the slack, spreading feelings of discontentment.

It’s easy to play the blame game in these kinds of situations because, on the surface, the checked-out employees appear to be the problem. But remember, disengagement is normally a side effect of another issue that’s bubbling away undetected. Taking an empathetic and compassionate approach will allow you to dig deeper and get to the real root of the problem. Sometimes, it has nothing to do with the employee at all…

Why Do Employees Become Disengaged?

A Lack of Recognition: Constructive criticism is a useful tool to help employees reach their full potential, but if employees only hear negative feedback, they can end up feeling underappreciated and unmotivated.

Excessive Stress: Stress in small amounts can light a fire under employees and increase productivity. However, when stress isn’t managed and grows to excessive levels, it takes a toll on their performance and their physical and mental health. When work-related stress, depression or anxiety strikes, employees quickly grow disillusioned with their work causing them to check out.

A Lack of Flexibility: 9 out of 10 employees consider flexible working to be a key motivator to their productivity at work. When employees don’t have the opportunity to work flexibly, they may find it difficult to strike a balance between work life and home life, leading to feelings of resentment and ultimately disengagement.

How to Support Checked-out Employees

There are three simple steps every organisation can take to prevent disengagement and transform checked-out employees into advocates for the organisation.

Step 1: Open the Lines of Communication

The only way to solve a problem is to first figure out the root cause. By giving employees a platform to voice their concerns and problems, employers can show that they have a sincere interest in supporting them through whatever is troubling them.

To foster a culture that’s open and eliminate the fear of retaliation, consider using a platform that enables anonymous feedback, like Trickle. Anonymity empowers even the most timid of employees to speak up and give honest feedback.

Step 2: Turn Feedback into Action

Activating employee voice through anonymous feedback gives employers an opportunity to get ahead of budding feelings of disengagement. But listening isn’t enough.

Once you have gathered feedback from employees, it’s essential to take action and start working on a remedy. For instance, if employees report being burnt out or stressed, consider setting clear expectations and rewarding them for going above and beyond. If employees are bored, combat this by offering training and new challenges they can focus on.

Not only is this practical, but it lets checked-out employees know that their opinions are valuable to the company, which can boost morale and drive a sense of belonging.

Step 3: Be Patient

Although it can be frustrating when employees seemingly check out from work, patience really is a virtue in these situations.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic switch or ‘boost’ button when it comes to engagement. Instead, it’s about maintaining a healthy and happy working culture where employees can share their views openly to invoke real change.

Remember, a checked-out employee isn’t a lost cause. They’re an opportunity to make the company a better place to work for improved productivity and greater success.

How Trickle Helps Improve Engagement

Trickle makes it simple for employers to harness the power of employee feedback to initiate real change and engage employees.

Start discussions around different topics, share positive feedback, and track the mood within the business, and much more in one easy-to-use platform.

Click below to get your free demo today.

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