Engagement is the new buzzword. Employee engagement. Leadership engagement. Customer and client engagement. But what of the unengaged? Unengaged employees cost thousands of dollars in loss to companies every day. With that, it’s important to tap into all of the resources available to motivate an unengaged employee.

2 Steps to Motivate an Unengaged Employee

Step 1: Take an internal assessment

The first critical step to motivating an unengaged employee is to assess how and why they arrived there.

As an internal exercise, take a review of these areas: 

  • Was this employee ever engaged?
  • If so, approximately when did you and others begin to notice a change?
  • Is this change personally or professionally related?

Knowing the answers to these 3 key questions can help you garner valuable insights.

  • For example, if this employee lacked engagement from the beginning it may be time to replace or reassign them to a role better suited.
  • If their engagement level was higher in the past, putting a pulse on when the change began can offer tools as well. Did the engagement wane during a particularly busy time? Is this employee experiencing burn out? Or, has there been a changing office dynamic that may be contributing?
  • Further, uncovering whether you believe this change to be personal or professional helps to know how much control you will really have over this situation. Sometimes this can be very challenging to discover.

Step 2: Use the knowledge you have.

You have spent time getting to the source of the disengagement. Now, what do you do?

Here are tools to help you motivate an unengaged employee.

  • Begin a dialogue. In a non-threatening manner begin a conversation with this employee. The goal of this is to learn more about their aspirations with your company long term. This is especially useful if you learn that you will need to reassign this person. In your conversation, make it a goal to learn what types of projects light them up? What gets them excited? Then, see what current or upcoming roles will be a good fit. Or, incorporate more tasks suited to them into their current role.
  • Review PTO or EAP. Perhaps you uncover or it is shared that your unengaged employee is burned out, suffering personal issues or lacking work/life balance and one or more of these is the root of the problem. Review that employee’s vacation file. Has it been years since they took PTO? On a similar note, your EAP may be able to help them through a personal crisis. Many employees are not aware of their EAPs or what they offer.

Using these 2 steps to motivate an unengaged employee will help you get your team back on the track to success.

Major General (Retired) Mike Diamond is CEO and founder of Diamond Strategy Group. Diamond Strategy Group is a leadership development and consulting company. We focus on improving the quality of leadership within organizations by utilizing the same methods Mike and his consultants have used in both military and civilian sectors. We offer Organizational Assessment along with many others services that would help if you find you are unable to Motivate an Unengaged Employee.

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