Build great Teams – People management

Disengaged Employees – The Impact – A Case Study

Disengaged Employees – The Impact - A Case Study

An engaged employee will go above and beyond for your company. They feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to your company, and are willing to put extra effort into their work. This can be critical if you run a small company, where you need everyone to contribute. A disengaged employee is the opposite.

You don’t want to have to spend your time and energy dealing with a disengaged employee. You will have to drag a disengaged employee along. They won’t adapt to change well and will impact the ability of your team to collaborate and innovate. You’ll spend a lot of time and energy ‘managing’ them. This article looks at the impact of having disengaged employees in your team.

The Initial Situation – Discovering Disengaged Employees

I worked with business owner, Dan, who manages a team of six electricians. Dan gets them to work in pairs so there’s always an experienced electrician working with a junior electrician or apprentice. The experience team member is there to make sure jobs are done to the expected standard. They are also expected to train the junior member of staff technically and show them what great customer-service looks like.

Dan was disappointed to find that the performance of his team with the current pairings was very varied. One pair, Andy (who is extremely experienced) works with Alma (an apprentice). They’ve been doing OK, but Alma has complained to Dan. Alma is very keen to learn and wants to do a great job, but has complained that Andy is holding her back and isn’t doing a good job keeping the clients happy.

Arnaud is another very experienced, long-time employee and is truly dedicated to the company. He is known for his great customer service, but he’s really struggling to pull Alex, who he’s paired with, round to his way of doing things. Alex is more concerned with checking his phone whenever he can than learning or thinking about customer service. Alex also pushes the limits with the amount of time he spends on breaks and stops working as soon as he can throughout the day. Arnaud has complained to Dan that he’s really struggling to get Eric to do a good job. Arnaud ends up doing most of the work himself to make sure the clients are happy. The clients are happy, but Arnaud is very frustrated.

Dan has realised he has two engaged employees and two disengaged employees.

What We Did – Two Situations

One of Dan’s disengaged employees is an experienced worker – Andy. I suggested Dan use use his performance management processes and conversations with Andy to find out what’s at the root of his disengagement. Dan needs to find out if it’s something he can address. If it is, he’ll want to find out more and then address it. If it’s out of Dan’s control, performance management is the first step to trying to get Andy to change or move on.

The other disengaged employee is Alex – one of the junior staff members. Dan and I discussed this particular situation and decided that we should look at Dan’s recruitment process. He needs to make sure he’s hiring the right people to start with, and he admitted that he could improve how he recruits. But while Alex is working for him, he also needs to use performance management and conversations with Alex to find out what’s at the root of his disengagement. If it’s something Dan can address he will need to do so while Alex is part of the team. Those conversations may also be pivotal for Alex’s career.

What We Did – Summary

Having one team member complain about another was where Dan first realized he might have disengaged employees. Once he realized that two of his staff weren’t very enthusiastic about their jobs, the next step was to talk to them individually to try and find out what was wrong, and then to decide if it was something Dan could address.

Dan realized that a robust performance management process would help him constructively try and turn them around. It also made him go back and look at how he recruits. Having the right people on board in the first place can make a big difference with engagement.

My Question To You

Are any of your employees disengaged? If so – what are you doing about it? What do you do to try and increase employee engagement in your business? If this is something you would like to discuss or would like some help with, contact me at You can also buy my book Accelerate to Team Success which is available as a paperback or on Kindle.


About the Author:

Nikki Faulkner photo Dr Nikki Faulkner founded Mulberry Bush Consulting to work with business leaders and their teams to make the 'People' side of their business as effective as possible. Mulberry Bush Consulting's specialty is helping small businesses who are new to having employees and helping businesses who are growing rapidly and increasing their employee-base at a rate that is creating a significant challenge.

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