Dear All,

I came across this wonderful article. Thought of sharing it all you wonderful HR people.

How to Get Disengaged Employees to Go the Extra Mile

Some employees rest before they’re tired. Others perk up in the parking lot at 5 o’clock. Some quit long ago, but have forgotten to tell you. All these employees show up to work every day and give you the minimum effort to stay afloat. Some eventually leave, taking with them their knowledge, experience and on-the-job training. We call these employees “the disengaged.” A study shows that disengaged employees cost U.S. businesses $11 billion annually. The global situation isn’t much better.

Many business owners and enterprise leaders try to cope with the disengagement by sending employees to accountability training. Accountability training typically focuses on topics such as creating SMART goals, clarifying expectations, empowering employees, establishing regular progress reviews and giving appropriate feedback. But a year later, even though everyone is now well-trained on the accountability cycle, the needle of engagement hasn’t moved. Why is that?

That’s because leaders need to look behind the curtain at the more prevalent causes for disengagement. Gary Hamel, professor at London Business School and one of the world’s top 50 Thinkers, puts it this way: “By far, the greatest untapped source of wealth and potential in any organization is all those people who have chosen on that particular day not to bring their imagination to work, not to bring their passion to work, not to bring their initiative to work … and the capabilities that we need most of our employees, their imagination, initiative … are exactly the capabilities that are most difficult to command. You cannot tell someone to show initiative or to be creative … those are literally gifts that people choose to bring into work every day or they don’t.”

As Hamel says, the question a manager needs to ask himself is not “How do I get people to serve my company?” but rather, “How do I create the work environment and a sense of purpose that literally merits the gifts of creativity and passion?” Hamel provides several tips, which include dramatically reducing the level of fear in organizations; depoliticizing decision making (so decisions are the result of good ideas, not political power); democratizing information (so information is not used as a political weapon), and reducing the power of traditional hierarchy.

If you struggle with employee disengagement and a lack of accountability, the following tips can help you turn that around.

Take a good look at all the leaders in your organization. Research shows that one of the most important factors that affects employee engagement is the relationship with one’s immediate manager. Evaluate all your leaders, from the back office supervisors to the vice presidents—everyone who is directly in charge of others. There is no doubt that people flee bad managers. So, what do good managers do? A worldwide study of engagement shows that the managers who fuel engagement exhibit these specific behaviors: they are personally involved, they delegate and utilize their employees’ talents, they don’t withhold recognition, they actively foster a sense of community and belonging, and they provide feedback and coaching. Does every manager in your company do this?

Assess these 12 conditions. The Gallup Organization developed a 12-point gauge of conditions that best predict employee engagement. These are 12 simple but powerful conditions that every manager should consider. They include statements such as “At work, my opinions seem to count” and “In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.” Would everyone in your shop be able to answer “yes” to these? The full 12-point list is available in Feedback For Real, a Gallup Business Journal article.

Understand what drives people. If you’re an old-school manager, you may be thinking that the carrot and stick approach is the best way to control people and push them to be more accountable. As Daniel H. Pink discovered in Drive: The Surprising Truth of What Motivates Us, once basic financial needs are met—that is, once people are paid adequately for what they do—what truly motivates people is Autonomy (the need to direct their own lives), Mastery (the urge to continue to get better at something that matters) and Purpose (the desire to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves). Get to know your people on a human level. Focus not only on knowing their strengths, but also on what their unique drivers are so you can tailor your approach for best results.

Offer a cafeteria of motivators. If tight budgets prevent you from offering the compensation that people require, consider offering other motivators. A recent survey of employees revealed incentives that can work for some people, including a flexible schedule, an opportunity to make a difference in their jobs, telecommuting, more challenging work, academic reimbursement and even having their own private office. All these are low-cost incentives to consider.

Eradicate unfairness. Fairness is treating people equitably without favoritism or bias. A sense of fairness is hardwired in us—nothing demotivates us faster than working in situations where getting ahead is not a function of what you know, but who you know. A recent study shows that the number-one reason people get sick is perceived unfairness at work. The emotional hurt associated with unfairness triggers the same neurophysiologic pathways present in physical pain. (My article “Monkey Business: Fairness in the Workplace” provides seven tips to help you promote fairness on your team.)

Does all this mean that accountability training doesn’t count? On the contrary, knowing what constitutes accountability in your workplace is important; however, accountability training on its own is not the panacea for what’s wrong with the engagement scores in an organization. For that, leaders need to step back and build a great place to work. They need to pay attention to a fundamental and often overlooked truth about people: How people feel profoundly affects whether or not they will go the extra mile for you.

Please share your views...



From India, Pune
Content Marketing Strategist
Principal Retirement Planner
Manager - Hr Excellence
Retired From Air India
Asst. Manager Hr
Management Training, Consultancy, Research
+1 Other


Disengaged bosses have disengaged staff.
If the dream is team's dream, We can have repeats of Lagaan, Hum hain Rahi pyar ke type of things . We have to find best bowling skills in Kachra and the team singing Yuhi Kat Jayega Safar Sath chalne se...
The problem, if any, is with the boss,manager,self-proclaimed head ,owner,CEO of the organization.
People are employed for their qualification,experience,reference checks but the most pertinent question is whether s/he will deliver the same results right now and right here?
An ill defined goal gets the employee disengaged.

From India, Vadodara

Garima I would agree with autonomy and open communication to improve motivation but do you really the link in a country like India: basic financial needs are fulfilled and workforce can hence focus on mastery and purpose ?
Fairness is such a subjective think, no appraisal even with accountability element are full proof of perceptual jugdement, there is always some level of subjectivity hence fairness is a very subjective phenomena

From India, New Delhi

One of the common reasons in my experience is that employees may get disengaged when they feel that they don\'t count in the scheme of things. For example in IT one of my team members withdrew into a shell when she was not given design but had to follow instructions and do only coding. Then, I have come across managers who are given work far less than their potential (sometimes due to political reasons as well). The bottomline - Make the employee feel wanted and provide them opportunities.
From India, Hyderabad
Arif ur Rehman

The Bottom Line:
A shift in HRM thinking from Human Resource Management to Humane Resource Management [is fundamental] - in an environment where associates (not employees/workers) find 'space' where they breathe and feel they matter creates empowerment. Formally there may still be the line and staff functions, but informally they cease to exist. What happens now is that a culture of concerned, caring connectivity develops and everyone. through some ongoing training mechanism. The next step demands that there is no mismatch between with tasks/roles/responsibilities with the incumbent's likes/prefernces/propensities and now skills only need be polished through well tailored T&D programs.
I haven't forgotten making work fun! Fun is Functioning (F) with the You Attitude(U) being done with a spirit of Novelty(N) - the formula will work wonders!

From Pakistan, Karachi

Shikha, I feel its about taking small steps in this direction.. If we cant have a full proof system atleast we can aim for it and in the bargain if we reach even 80%.. its a victory
From India, Pune

Dear Shikha,

I am very impressed with the article and I fully agree that fairness is indispensible if you have to have a motivated workforce.Also as Ms Garima has answered to your doubt it may not be 100% fool proof but atleast we can make it 80% effective.I would like to cite my own case.I did my MBA under a financial assistance scheme offered by my employer to employees pursuing higher studies. I also did a PG Dip in Mngt in Mktng(MBA in HRM).Naturally I was hoping that the organisation where I work would make good use of my acquired professional knowledge and ofcourse it's money spent on me.Further I appeared for a written test along with MBAs from other premium institutes and made it to selection list in my own organisation.(It was management trainees selection but open to employees without age limit).I passed the GD and was grilled for 1hr25mins interview ! Other candidates were interviewed for 20-25mins on an average.However my 18yrs service and fresh MBA did not cut ice but those having a godfather like Director/General Manager, top IAS officers or better still some union minister as God father were appointed.Now I am at the fag end of the career and as the article says leave all my creativity/innovative spirit etc at home while coming to work.It is not that I don't enjoy my subject.I am still very proud of my MBA degree and enjoy any discussion/debate on managerial subjects.But when it comes to office work I some how lose all interest.

From India, New Delhi
k v n kishore

i fully agree with the advocacy of fairness and openness in work ecosystem. As Managers we are mostly preservative about the perks that we get and the benfits the post gives and in the process at times ignore the sensualities of the employees working with us. While our focus is always on appeasing the boss little interest we take in our colleagues and sub ordinates. More often than not we donot even know the background and family details of our team members . It is important to sight the targets bit more important is the employee buy ins . Targets gets achieved only through employees especially in service industry. a very good case and very good discussions. Hats off to all who contributed for the enrichment of the cimmunity.
From India, Hyderabad

Dear All,

Appreciate everybody's thoughts and comments on the topic. Now that we know how important it is to keeps employees motivated and engaged, I need your help to tackle this problem in my office. I am working for a small company,30 yrs old, around 100 employees across different branches. The company is currently in a transition phase of moving from traditional to professional approach. HR is also a recent concept here. There are no clearly defined KRAs, KPIs and no formal Appraisal system too. Hence job accountability is a problem here also increments are not justified as per performance. Its not just the employees who suffer but also the company 'cos not many assume responsibility for their job and keep passing around work from one department to another. Another problem is due to lack of SOPs we are people centric. So the senior old employees enjoy much bigger pay than the work they do and play politics around.

Appraisal KRA setting and all will take some time in setting In the meanwhile, I have thought of a formal appreciation program to start off with wherein we reward employees who are doing their job correctly in time and taking initiatives. But my problem is what will be the criteria for this appreciation/On spot awards due to the above mentioned issues. For example if a person is doing his routine job correctly on time does he need an appreciation for it and then how do we justify the appreciation to the rest of the staff. It could become a demotivator for others if not done in a correct manner.

I request all you senior , experienced HR professionals to kindly suggest some ways to handle this issue.

Thanks in advance


From India, Pune

Dear Folks,

A nice contribution by Garima on what factors makes us or our employees demotivated and why do we terminate them or appraise them low.

Employees get disengaged because of many reasons:

1. Due political environment in the organisation

2. Lack of exposure given to the employees

3. Favoritism among the team from bosses

4. More expectation from the employee and less fulfillment of the same.

5. Same repetitive work. No new assignments assigned.

Now in the term of motivating the disenageged employee, we can delegate / assign a new assignment to the employee for a trial period and observe the apporach. If the approach is good and in positive manner, then we can start giving training to the that employee and make sure that this employeee performs best and become a benchmark for other disengaged employee in the organisation. If the approach remains unchaged then we can ask the employee to go but if there are changes in the apporach and work process then we can nominate that employee for some trainings which can help him / her to complete the assigned task effectively and efficiently..

If we adopt this theory and go with it in full force, i assure all the HR professionals across the globe that we will never be able to lose the best talent and also our experienced employee...


Initially you can start with designing the appraisal form. Also you need to first check what factors and categories you can include for Rewards and Recognition...

I am also attaching a file of Rewards & Recognition which i had proposed and it got implemented in my organization..

From India, Mumbai

Attached Files (Download Requires Membership)
File Type: xls Draft - Reward & Recognition.xls (35.0 KB, 733 views)

If You Are Knowledgeable About Any Fact, Resource or Experience Related to This Topic and Want to Be Part of Such Discussions in Future - Please Register and Log In to Cite Community.

About Us Advertise Contact Us Testimonials
Privacy Policy Disclaimer Terms Of Service

All rights reserved @ 2023 CiteHR®

All Material Copyright And Trademarks Posted Held By Respective Owners.
Panel Selection For Threads Are Automated - Members Notified Via CiteMailer Server