people being disengaged is that sometimes
they’re physically there but mentally
they’re not,” said Brown. Other signs to
watch for include poor communication
between colleagues and a lack of pride in
performance or ownership of tasks.
“Managers and organizations can look for
negative attitudes, poor morale, decreased
effort and complaining as obvious signs,”
said Brown. “However, they need to look
deeper to find what engages and disengages
employees as engagement surveys don’t
typically provide this insight.”
While they can still provide valuable
insights, traditional annual engagement
surveys are problematic for a few
“I correlate engagement surveys with
performance reviews,” said Lisa Sterling,
executive vice president, chief people officer
at Ceridian. “They’re done at a specific
time, they’re usually backwards-looking
and there are so many variables that can
impact a person when completing them.
Then when we get results back, they’re
already out of date and don’t represent
current feelings and perspectives of our
According to the 2016 Deloitte report,
“Perhaps the biggest challenge for HR in
leading engagement programs is shifting
from a transactional, once-a-year mindset,
to an ‘always on,’ continuous listening
approach to monitoring engagement.”
That can be done with the help of software
and applications, but there’s also
no replacement for genuine human-tohuman
conversations and connections.
“It’s a matter of being really in tune with
your people,” said Hotton-MacDonald.
Brown suggests checking in regularly
with employees, and asking the following
questions to spot any problems that
might be simmering under the surface:
■■ How are you finding your role and
“IT’S NOT ALWAYS OBVIOUS AND MANY TIMES, EXECUTIVES AND
MANAGERS DON’T HAVE A REAL FEEL FOR ENGAGEMENT LEVELS.
OFTEN, PEOPLE STAY BELOW THE RADAR; THEY LEARN HOW TO
PERFORM SO THEIR DISENGAGEMENT WON’T BE NOTICED.”
– DOUG BROWN, ENGAGED2PERFORM
■■ What challenges are you facing and
how can we support your efforts?
■■ Is the type of work in line with your
career expectations and desires?
■■ Are we providing sufficient feedback
and communication to support your
needs? How can we help you improve
and grow and what new skills would
you need to perform at your best?
CONTAINMENT IS CRITICAL
Identifying an employee slipping into a
disengaged state can prevent a much larger
problem, as well, if the slide can be halted
“Disengagement, like negativity, unfortunately
breeds to the rest of the team,”
When an entire group is disengaged, a
manager or HR professional might notice
a change in attitude, performance
“It’s really about looking at the overall
dynamics of the team,” said Sterling,
as well as changes to retention. “Are you
starting to see an increase in turnover?
Often that’s the first indicator that there’s
disengagement with the team.”
MANAGERS AND HR IN
When it comes to handling disengagement,
a coordinated effort can be the most
“Organizations need to consider who
is in the strongest position to facilitate
engagement with an employee, and with
whom the employee is most likely to share
concerns and issues, as well as goals,” said
Brown. “An HR professional may not
necessarily be the ideal person to accomplish
this, although they do play a role in
the process. The manager can also play an
important role, since in many cases they
are the face of the organization to the
Canada’s leading Exam Prep Product for
the HR Knowledge Exams!
Canadian HR Press has teamed up with Lexis-Nexis to provide
the most comprehensive package of study tools available. Our
customers have consistently achieved a higher pass rate than the
average and have consistently scored the highest marks since 2003.
products to GET CERTIFIED!
22 ❚ SEPTEMBER 2016 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL