Disengagement: The Main Reason to Motivate Your Employees

Sep 22, 2009, Written by Sue Miley

disengaged employee
When you view your Facebook news feed how often do you see statuses’ from people wishing they weren’t at work or complaining about their job?  For that matter, how many status updates are occurring during work hours when the person should be engaged in their job?  When you have a staff meeting how much energy and conversation are focused on why something can’t be done rather than how to make it work?

We have an epidemic in America of disengaged employees.

Is it the new generation? People just don’t have the same work ethic anymore.


Has leadership disengaged from the responsibility of motivating these same workers?

Let’s focus on the part we (small business owners) can influence.  Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Give your staff meaningful work and then hold them accountable to complete it in a quality way. People don’t want to generate work that no one is going to use or look at.  Yet how often do managers delegate something and never ask to see it or never use the end product once the employee completes it?  People want to work on meaningful projects or tasks that they believe can make a difference.
  • Create energy, momentum, and a sense of urgency. If the owner of the business is swamped and not delegating or so laid back that if things get done they never acknowledge it, then employees become disengaged.  They want to be a part of the important things that are driving the business.  They need to feel your energy and they need feedback along the way.  Keeping in touch with an employee on a project and task makes them feel the work is worthwhile.
  • Don’t just tell the employee they are needed, prove that they are needed. Delegate pieces of projects, processes, and tasks that you need to accomplish your goal.  When they know you are waiting on the handoff, again they feel that they are working on meaningful things.

If you as the owner are too busy to see what your employees are doing or to take time to inspect and appreciate what they are doing then you are not delegating and probably not motivating your employees.  I have a client who had an employee who was unreliable, complained about everyone else, and rarely learned new tasks willingly.  A change in other positions occurred and the new people were the type who focused on getting things done and tried to utilize all available resources.

Delegate to Engage Employees

They began to delegate to this “disengaged employee” consistently with an expectation for the tasks to be completed correctly and timely.  They would come back and check for the completion regularly and hand off the next thing.  They took the completed task and used the work that was done.  Basically, they fully utilized the disengaged employee, and guess what?  She thrived.  She felt needed.  She felt accomplished.  Soon she was getting to work early, asking for tasks, and openly learning new processes.  To the new employees, they just expected it.  The owner was astounded though.  It was a perfect example of an employee who wasn’t motivated and didn’t feel needed and all along the owner felt they were maybe expecting too much!

People want to do meaningful work.  They want to be needed.  Where are your employees?  Motivated and engaged or distant and disengaged.  Take responsibility for the epidemic in your own business and get your team engaged.  The solution is a win/win situation!

Reader Interactions


  1. gia kosmitis says

    Wow! did I need this wake up call… too often I am swamped and fail to remember I need to appreciate what my staff does day in and out and acknowledge their hard work… I luv to speak of the “team” atmosphere we have but forget to lead, thank, and motivate. Sue, your insight, advice is amazingly on point everytime. Your website is a constant help and your words full of inspiration. Thanks again and again,

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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