Employee Engagement

5 overlooked causes of employee disengagement

Employee disengagement is rampant. Almost a quarter of the global workforce is “actively disengaged.” What’s more, 59% do the bare minimum, a trend now referred to as “quiet quitting.”

This is costing companies across the globe $8.8 trillion in lost productivity. That’s 9% of global GDP.

Since 2020, active disengagement has continued to grow. And to be honest, I’m not surprised. Covid changed how many of us see and experience the world. Add to that climate change, wars, and the political climate, and many of us feel a continued sense of existential dread.

Where we choose to work can make or break our mental health. We can either feel like we’re making a difference, or that we’re just going through the motions. It can seem like nobody would notice if we left.

To get the most from employees, you need to make them feel like they matter. Like their presence in your business contributes to something bigger than themselves.

So let’s take a look at some causes of employee disengagement that you may not have considered before:

Incompatible values

Many employees today aren’t just motivated by a paycheck. They want to feel like their life—and their work—has a purpose, too.

This is why your employer brand is so important. You can make it clear to potential candidates what your company values are. This will help you attract people who share those values.

As a result, anyone who applies to work for your business will have already qualified themselves. That way, you’ll be able to hire someone quicker.

On the flip side, if employees don’t understand your values before they join, and they don’t share them, they’ll be less motivated. So they won’t work as hard and they’ll be less likely to stay long term. Which will then cost you more time and money to hire and train their replacement and overcome employee disengagement.

Not being as inclusive as you think

When a business or person thinks they’re fully inclusive and has nothing left to learn about diversity, equity, and inclusion, that’s when the cracks start to appear.

Being an inclusive business requires active work. It’s not something where anyone can afford to get complacent.

It’s also not just about educating people on DEI. Those kinds of training programs can often cause employees—and even some senior leaders—to roll their eyes and treat the training as a box-ticking exercise.

To truly be inclusive, it requires:

  • Calling out microaggressions
  • Checking the language you—and your colleagues—use in emails, job descriptions, blog posts, and anything else you publish to ensure it’s truly inclusive
  • Analyzing job descriptions to ensure they use neutral language

These all help you, and your employees, keep inclusivity front of mind and support underrepresented talent in the workplace. It also helps stop employee disengagement before it starts.

Feeling unvalued

Employees want to feel like you care about them.

There are lots of different way to show them that you do. It doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive.

A simple “thank you,” or a “great job” can show someone you value what they’ve done for you.

Another way to make employees feel valued is to listen to their opinions and take their feedback into account.

Even if what they hope for can never happen, allowing them to voice their opinion makes them feel heard, respected, and valued, rather than silenced and unappreciated.

Employee feedback surveys—and acting based on the results—is one way to make employees feel heard and appreciated.

Automate survey sending and results analysis so that you can act sooner and successfully reduce employee disengagement.

Lack of growth

The more we do the same thing day in and day out, the more repetitive and boring it becomes.

Our brains crave novelty and stimulation. That means leaving the house, changing our working environment (whether we work from home or an office), working with different people, and trying new things.

When an employee feels stuck in their role and like there’s nowhere else for them to go, it can lead to feelings of frustration and boredom.

These feelings can lead to resentment and cause them to not work at their full capacity and “quiet quit” instead.

Growth doesn’t just have to mean a promotion, it can mean:

  • Moving departments
  • Expanding their skillset, such as a copywriter learning about video editing
  • Working on a different project

Finding ways to break up the working day and keep it fresh reduces employee disengagement and enables you to retain their knowledge.

Hiding health conditions

Young people now struggle with depression and anxiety at a higher rate than their older colleagues. This hasn’t happened since records began.

But someone doesn’t have to be quiet in the office to have a mental health condition. Sometimes the most outgoing, vocal, seemingly happy people are the ones who are screaming on the inside.

That’s why it’s so important to check in with your employees.

It could be that the most compassionate people, the ones who deflect conversations away from being about them, are the ones struggling the most. But they may also be the most uncomfortable talking about how they feel.

That’s not to say it’s always the case—mental health conditions look different on everyone.

Ensuring managers check in with their employees and notice significant changes in their behavior, productivity, engagement, or working patterns is therefore key. It helps prevent employee disengagement before it negatively affects people’s mental health and your business’s bottom line.


To avoid employee disengagement, you need to take active steps to keep employees engaged.

That means maintaining basic DEI efforts like speaking up when you see someone being disrespectful, supporting employees through their health or other personal struggles, and finding ways to keep employees interested in their jobs.

If you’re ready to make real strides on reducing employee disengagement, Workrowd’s all-in-one suite of tools can help. With everything you need to organize and track employee engagement programs under one roof, you’ll always know what is and isn’t driving results.

Want to learn more? Visit us online or send us a note at to schedule some time to chat.

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