• Home
  • Management
  • There is anecdotal evidence that employee disengagement is increasing. Critically discuss the importance of engaged workers to organisational success.

There is anecdotal evidence that employee disengagement is increasing. Critically discuss the importance of engaged workers to organisational success.

  • Category:
  • Document type:
  • Level:
    High School
  • Page:
  • Words:


Employee Disengagement

Employee Disengagement

Engagement has attracted the attention of many researchers and is among the most critical issues of human resource management. Workforce engagement is very essential as it motivates employees to be productive and assist in achieving organisational goals (Wollard, 2011). Due to many reasons, employee disengagement has increased considerably and has caused unethical organisational behaviour (Moore et al., 2012). Engagement affects employees’ attitudes, absence and productivity level thereby leading to lower employee turnover, increased shareholders’ return and increased financial performance. High workforce engagement means that employees of an organisation are committed, motivated and energized and organisational goals are effectively aligned (Markos and Sridevi, 2010). This paper will define what engagement and disengagement are and the causes of disengagement. It will discuss the reason for the increase in disengagements and its implications. The essay will also highlight ways that can be used by organisations to enhance workforce engagement.

Employees’ engagement is very important and brings about positive result that is why it has attracted interest among researchers and practitioners. According to research, employees’ engagement can bring about successful business performance (Wollard, 2011). Engagement affects employees’ attitudes, absence and productivity level thereby leading to lower employee turnover, increased shareholders’ return and increased financial performance (Wollard, 2011). The concept of workforce engagement contributes in establishing the issues concerning organisational performance and enhances the high commitment of the employees which tends to benefit the organisation. Workforce disengagement can be defined as the discontinued or withdraw attitude and behaviour of employees towards work. Disengaged employees are those who work with no value, are less committed and motivated and work without their full potential (Wollard, 2011).

Disengagement is considered the disconnection of employees from their work roles in order to protect themselves from perceived threat (Wollard, 2011). Disengagement is characterized by failure to find meaning in the role given, lack of purpose or frustration in the workplace. It is very hard to promote employee engagement in the workplace as well as manage disengagement. Consequently, in order to solve these issues, it is important for organisations to know the causes of disengagement and be able to find ways to manage it. Failure to manage disengagement, organisations can fail to achieve its goals and objectives and this may result to failure.

There are many causes of employee disengagement. Disengagement may affect profitability, turnover and productivity among others. One cause of disengagement is dissatisfaction of employees at work as a result of poor management and leadership (Journal Record, n.d). High level of disengagement occurs when employees work and carry out their duties in a negative and unfairly working environment that is attributed by poor leadership. Normally, leadership is one of the primary factors in directing and controlling the organisational constituents towards achieving organisational success. In order for a manager to be effective in achieving organisational goals, it is important that the leadership style used is compatible with the needs of the followers (Journal Record, n.d). Therefore, an organisation cannot succeed without effective leadership and high employee motivation and engagement. To foster engagement, managers should strive to satisfy the motivational needs of the employees.

Disengagement also is caused by lack of recognition for achievement. Employees need to be recognised and appreciated especially when they do a good job. This can be done through performance appraisal and other ways (Bersin, 2016). Lack of such appreciation may lead to disengagement. In addition, disengagement can be caused by lack of opportunity for advancement. Also, many organisations have come up with a culture that allows the managers to very powerful and in full control of everything that goes on in the company. They tend to make decisions without informing the other employees (Kiriakidis, 2008). This perception nevertheless can create a huge gap between the manager and the employees that can make them misunderstand each other. This misunderstanding can lead to poor communication and conflict of interest between the two parties and can therefore bring about workforce disengagement (Moore et al., 2012).

Organisation respect towards the workforce can also lead to disengagement. Employees often feel respected and valued if they are given the chance to express themselves (Jackie, n.d,). This allows them to realize that their opinions and ideas count and that they contribute towards the achievement of organisational goals. If employees don’t feel respected or valued, they may be disengaged. Another factor that leads to employee disengagement is lack of workplace safety (Whiteoak and Mohamed, 2016). Employees often perceive safety as a factor that brings about high engagement and productivity. Generally, different employees have different perspectives towards their engagement. Most people’s perspectives of engagement is that positive feeling at work assist employees become excited and motivated to carry out their job.

Disengagement is increasing in today’s business environment. According to Bacharach et al. (2008), the increasing idea of creative work can encourage people to work at more meaningful jobs instead of full time jobs as before. Research illustrate that increasing job turnover is as result of high motivated people who can be disengaged due to long time jobs. Therefore, flexible and good management environment where employees can receive good leadership can improve engagement (Bacharach et al., 2008). Another major reason for increasing disengagement is unethical organisation. Unethical organisational behaviour cause disengagement as it yields inadequate leadership pipeline. Lack of work-life balance also causes disengagement. Research has shown that employees today work more than 50 hours a week. This increases their stress level and result to disengagement (Moore et al., 2012).

Disengagement can have negative impacts on organisations. The two types of disengagement are physical and psychological disengagement. Physical disengagement may be in form of lateness and withdrawal from the company (Bersin, 2016). Tardiness also takes place when employees do not report to work early as required. Unavoidable and chronic lateness is the result of engagement. Lateness may result to lose of productivity and revenue. Absenteeism is another type of physical disengagement that occurs when employees skip work for substantial period of time without any excuse (Kiriakidis, 2008). Absenteeism can bring about negative impacts on the organisation such as low turnover, poor productivity and poor financial performance. In addition, disengagement implications may be in form of presenteesim and burnout. Burnout and presenteesm mean that employees can spend their time at work leisurely doing other things like surfing the internet instead of working (Kiriakidis, 2008). This can affect the organisation negatively.

Organisations can come up with ways to improve worker engagement. One way of doing so is through offering meaningful work to the employees. Managers are the ones who are responsible for communicating meaningful work to the employees (Fairlie, 2011). They should develop programs that encourage employees to achieve their career goals in the companies. Training is another way that organisations can use to enhance engagement. Employees should undergo training and development that will improve their self-value and motivate them. Also, redesigning job roles is a good way of creating meaningfulness in employees’ lives (Fairlie, 2011). Improved communication between the management and the employees enhances relationship in the organisation. Employees should be involved in decision making process in order to feel valued. This will motivate them and will improve their engagement.

In conclusion, employment engagement is very important as it motivates employees to be productive and assist in achieving organisational goals. Employee disengagement is the discontinued or withdrawal attitude and behaviour of employees towards work. It has negative effects on performance and productivity of organisations. Disengagement is caused by poor management, lack of opportunity for career advancement, lack of employee involvement and lack of appreciation among others. Disengagement leads to negative effects on organisations. Disengaged employees have high likelihood of absentiseem, burnout and lateness. However, disengagement can be managed through training and development, enhancing employee-management relationship and communication and creating meaningful work.


Bacharach, S, Bamberger, P, Sonnenstuhl, W, & Vashdi, D 2008, ‘Aging and Drinking Problems Among Mature Adults: The Moderating Effects of Positive Alcohol Expectancies and Workforce Disengagement’, Journal Of Studies On Alcohol & Drugs, 69(1), pp. 151-159.

Bersin, J. (2016). Forbes Welcome. [online] Forbes.com. Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2014/03/15/why-companies-fail-to-engage-todays-workforce-the-overwhelmed-employee/#71435cf42b94.

Fairlie, P 2011, ‘Meaningful Work, Employee Engagement, and Other Key Employee Outcomes: Implications for Human Resource Development’, Advances In Developing Human Resources, 13(4), pp. 508-525.

Jackie, S n.d., ‘Social media draws young workers via engagement’, New Orleans Citybusiness (LA), Regional Business News, EBSCOhost, viewed 24 July 2016.

Journal Record, S n.d., ‘Poor leadership blamed for worker disengagement’, Journal Record, The (Oklahoma City, OK).

Kiriakidis, SP 2008, ‘Moral Disengagement: Relation to Delinquency and Independence From Indices of Social Dysfunction’, International Journal Of Offender Therapy & Comparative Criminology, 52(5), pp. 571-583.

Markos, S. and Sridevi, M. (2010), Employee Engagement. The Key to Improving Performance. International Journal of Business and Management 5(12).p.89

Moore, C, Detert, J, Trevino, L, Baker, V, & Mayer, D 2012, ‘WHY EMPLOYEES DO BAD THINGS: MORAL DISENGAGEMENT AND UNETHICAL ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR’, Personnel Psychology, 65(1), pp. 1-48.

Whiteoak, J, & Mohamed, S 2016, ‘Employee engagement, boredom and frontline construction workers feeling safe in their workplace’, Accident Analysis & Prevention, 93, pp. 291-298.

Wollard, KK 2011, ‘Quiet Desperation: Another Perspective on Employee Engagement’, Advances In Developing Human Resources, 13(4), pp. 526-537, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 24 July 2016.