Dealing with Low Employee Engagement at Work

A growing number of employees feel disengaged at work. This malaise is not just a fleeting sentiment but a profound detachment from the workplace, as evidenced by recent Gallup data that state that only 23% of workers globally are engaged in their jobs. According to the same study, 59% of employees were not engaged, merely putting in the minimum effort required and feeling psychologically detached from their employer. Additionally, 18% were highly disengaged, actively working against the interests of their organisations.

The Underlying Issue

Disengagement undermines individual productivity and impacts organisational health. Employees who lack motivation often experience a slew of negative emotions, from anxiety and depression to irritability and apathy. This stifles personal growth, leading to detrimental behaviours that further alienate them from their roles and colleagues.

However, it’s crucial to understand that disengagement doesn’t necessarily stem from a lack of professional competence or ambition. Instead, it often reflects deeper systemic issues within the organisation and a misalignment between the employee’s values and the tasks at hand.

Regional disparities and what we can learn from them

According to the Gallup survey, regional disparities in employee engagement globally highlight significant differences influenced by cultural, economic, and managerial factors. Countries like France and Italy report some of the lowest engagement levels in Europe, which may reflect broader economic challenges or cultural attitudes towards work. Conversely, despite facing their issues, the US and South Asia report higher engagement levels. In the US, a strong emphasis on managerial responsibility for engagement and comprehensive strategies to align employees with the company’s mission helps maintain relatively higher engagement levels. A cultural emphasis on duty and resilience in South Asia contributes to stronger engagement. These examples suggest that proactive management and a solid connection to organisational goals can significantly influence employee engagement. By adopting some of these effective practices, regions with lower engagement might see improvements by focusing on better management training and aligning work with employees’ values and goals.

Turning the Tide on Disengagement

The first step towards remedying this issue is recognising each employee’s human element. Studies have shown that reflective detachment, where employees take time to disconnect and reassess their professional lives, can significantly ease burnout and renew interest in work. Initiatives like reflection and physical activity can enhance mental clarity and emotional well-being. A Harvard Business Review article inspired me on some of the ideas below.

Cultivating a Supportive Environment

Fostering an empathetic workplace culture is critical to re-engaging employees. Managers and leaders are encouraged to adopt a more compassionate approach, recognising each team member’s unique challenges and contributions. Organisations can enhance overall engagement and productivity by promoting an environment where employees can openly discuss their concerns and receive the support they need.

Furthermore, encouraging personal development and acknowledging achievements can rekindle employees’ passion for their work. Several workplace studies highlight that enabling employees to explore areas of interest or develop new skills can significantly boost their engagement and loyalty to the company.

Empowering Individuals

Individual action plays a critical role in overcoming disengagement. Employees are advised to take proactive steps to reclaim their motivation at work. This can be achieved through setting clear personal and professional boundaries, engaging in activities that promote mental health, and seeking constructive feedback.

Moreover, job crafting—where employees tailor their roles to fit their strengths and interests better—has shown promise in restoring job satisfaction and engagement. By redefining their job scope, individuals can inject new vitality into their daily routines and align their work more closely with their personal values and professional aspirations.

Work-Life Balance

In a previous article about Work-Life Balance, I shared how workplace environments can be cultivated to support personal and professional well-being. Understanding work as an integral part of life, not a separate endeavour, is fundamental in fostering a sense of purpose and satisfaction among employees. This perspective aligns closely with the strategies mentioned for combating disengagement in the workplace. Organisations can create a more motivated, engaged, and productive workforce by adopting a holistic approach where work and personal life coexist harmoniously. This synergy between individual values and professional responsibilities is beneficial and essential in transforming the current landscape of workplace dissatisfaction into one of thriving engagement.


While the statistics on disengagement are concerning, they also serve as a call to action for organisations and individuals. By adopting a more holistic approach to employee well-being and empowerment, we can transform the current landscape of workplace dissatisfaction into one of thriving engagement and productivity. Let us not underestimate the power of a motivated workforce, it is, after all, the cornerstone of any successful organisation.

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