Employee Disengagement In The WFH Era: What Is It And How To Solve It?

Employee Disengagement In The WFH Era: What Is It And How To Solve It?
Summary: Employee disengagement poses a serious threat to every business. In the work-from-home era, the level of engagement that workers have has become a top priority, when it comes to management strategy and ultimately, business strategy.

Tackle Employee Disengagement Issue In The WFH Era

The term "employee engagement" refers to an employee's level of dedication and connection to a company. In today's competitive environment, employee engagement has been defined as a vital driver of business success. As a result, employee disengagement poses a serious threat to every business. In the work-from-home era, the level of engagement in workers has become the top priority when it comes to management strategy and ultimately, business strategy. According to research by SHRM, engagement is the key to establishing a competitive business advantage. With the pandemic and remote working in place, many learners don’t have space to collaborate and feel disengaged from their L&D roadmap and their jobs. What can L&D managers, as leaders of change, do to tackle this situation? In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of employee disengagement in detail and try to propose some useful solutions.

Symptoms Of Disengagement In The Workplace

It is no surprise that throughout the pandemic, people requested or were forced to work from home in order to stay safe. Speaking of employee disengagement, the patterns of disengaged workers stayed the same wherever the location, whether it was the office or home.

1. No Initiative In Their Employee Performance

Good work may be a red herring, but poor work is a dependable barometer for disengagement. Although an employee may feel alienated from your company, he or she may nonetheless perform due to a strong work ethic. Perhaps their employment is too simple for them and they aren't being challenged enough. Don't be tricked into thinking that an employee's level of engagement is high merely because they are meeting their work objectives. Indeed, a lack of challenge that manifests as high-quality work could be the source of disengagement.

2. Lack Of Learning = Lack Of Work Motivation

When was the last time that an employee presented an intriguing article about your firm, industry trends, or relevant research in their field? When was the last time they talked about anything? Curiosity is a sign that a worker is concerned about the broader picture. They are very motivated at work and eager to learn and advance in their position. When you promote learning and growth as a corporate value yet your colleagues don't share your enthusiasm, it's time to investigate their level of employee engagement.

3. Unhealthy Activities

How often do employees visit the break room for a cup of coffee or a snack? How frequently do they go outside for a cigarette? Of course, your employee could just be hungry, exhausted, or addicted to nicotine, but unhealthy behaviors can also be used to fill a hole in one's personal or professional life. Regarding remote work, of course, no employer can force his employee to sit still at their desk all the time as long as they meet the assigned tasks, so they are more comfortable entertaining themselves while working. However, some people may take advantage of internet difficulty to delay their deadlines or regularly refuse to join online meetings. Indeed, people who are sincerely driven by a sense of purpose often find fulfillment just by working hard at their jobs and trying their best to not let their personal preferences get in the way.

4. Silence Indicates A Problem In The Workplace

Perhaps you've got an introvert on your hands. With some people, when they have their own space, it seems to refresh their batteries. However, when a win is experienced by the entire organization or team and only a few employees express excitement or celebration, that is an employee engagement issue. Nevertheless, this should not be a big deal since introverts and extroverts express their joy differently and silence in the crowd does not always mean a lack of engagement. Maybe your least excited employee is the guy who contributed the most to the team’s project.

What Are The True Causes And Solutions Behind Employee Disengagement?

All the symptoms mentioned are actually "wicked problems." They are causes that generate many consequences but have few or no well-described set of potential solutions. Therefore, to come up with initiatives to tackle employee disengagement, we should trace it back to the real problems. For example, HR executives often blame isolated learning and so claim that the disengagement is rooted in the employees themselves. However, learning from home is an adaptation to the lockdown situation and it is the reality that every worker has had to deal with. In fact, it is the company that should take responsibility. We can all agree that there are some typical factors that lead to employee disengagement in the context of remote working.

Problem 1: Focusing On Face Time Instead Of Output

While many people miss certain parts of working in an office, your remote coworkers appreciate the reduced distractions. The pandemic has changed the way we think about time and how we get things done. So, why are we so fixated on jumping into a video conference for everything? It doesn't make you a successful employee just because you have meetings every other hour on your calendar. For instance, how can you expect your employees to produce high-quality work if they are tethered to Zoom for more than half of their workweek? Leaders may rely too heavily on video because they aren't confident in their team's ability to complete tasks. The trust issue here is definitely the reason that you are witnessing a sharp drop in employee engagement.

Solution: Build A Concrete, Trusting Foundation

As long as your workers complete their tasks perfectly, there is no need to supervise them 24/7. Instead, what team managers should do is set out explicit accountability and output expectations that can assist in alleviating tension and allow leaders to better control outputs.

Problem 2: Keeping The Same Processes As Before

When moving from an in-person to a remote work environment, you probably had to change a lot of processes. Everyone had to figure out how to adapt everything, from communication and document sharing to task delegation and tech assistance. If you still have processes from your office days, it will make the life of your employees a lot more painful.

Solution: Interactive Training

The working landscape has shifted, and 50% of the workforce now has the option of working remotely. Employees who may never enter an office building face new hurdles in terms of training and development. The situation also necessitates adaptations in typical in-person training to match the six-foot social separation requirement and restrictions on maximum gathering size. That’s why we suggest corporations adopt interactive training. Organizations can swiftly switch from one training approach to another by incorporating interactive training into their business operations. Remote and distributed teams, as well as on-site staff, must be included in training programs.

Problem 3: Prioritize The Need Of The Company Ahead Of The Employees

While maintaining success metrics is critical to a company's success, it's important to mention that if all you're concerned with is how employee disengagement is affecting the company—without questioning whether you're a part of the problem—you might need to change your mindset. Many organizations have boosted their budgets for mental health services or child care stipends, but they haven't retrained managers on how to help suffering teammates and how to reduce their team's workload. This form of retraining (and its ramifications for the firm) is an important aspect of assisting distant teammates to remain engaged during ups and downs.

Solution: Internal Communication

Setting goals is vital since it allows you to see how changes affect what the team needs to accomplish. However, the key to achieving goals is to cultivate open communication techniques that allow you to help your teammates when they need it. Don't be afraid to talk about the help you'll need to achieve exceptional work. It's difficult to solve every situation, but you have a much greater chance to do so if you engage in open discussion.


Gauging employee engagement looks a little different in this work-from-home era, but it's still very manageable. The greatest method is to combine goal achievement with regular check-ins with the team to see how they're doing. If you're getting honest feedback and the problems are getting smaller, it's a good sign that you're improving. Keep in mind that when you make changes, there may be a period of transition, so give your employees a few weeks to get their bearings.

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