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Disengaged Employees Don’t Care

September 25, 2017

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You can bet that the sales manager cared deeply about his job and was committed to boosting profits in the company where he works when he led his team in sales for several years. You know he was motivated when he consistently put in ten-hour days in order to exceed his previous sales goals.

The boss rewarded his motivation by hiring a much younger, new sales manager, to whom he now reports. His reasoning was that the new guy will infuse exciting new sales methods into the department and profits will skyrocket. It will be interesting to see if the previous sales manager will continue to care enough to do his best for the company, or if his enthusiasm will be replaced with apathy.

This sales manager’s situation reflects the experience of many loyal employees who have worked hard for a company for years, only to be bumped when a new “star” is hired. They look on from the sidelines and feel unappreciated for their loyalty to the company. There are many employees who show up on time every day, treat their co-workers with respect and deliver quality work, only to be taken for granted by their managers.

The Gallup Organization estimates that 70 percent of employees are “disengaged,” meaning they’re no longer committed to the company. It’s evident in positions from executive officers to front-line employees. This “I don’t care attitude” is hurting businesses in a big way. What’s going on? Why all the apathy? It could be that the wrong employees are being rewarded. Most organizations want to blame employee apathy on wages and benefits, but they actually do not play a big role in why people stop caring about their jobs. The overwhelming majority of employees stop caring because of the way they are treated every day. Surveys show that lack of appreciation, lack of teamwork and the perception that the company doesn’t care about loyal employees are consistently the highest-ranked reasons for low job satisfaction.

Many managers are nice people who manage by negative reinforcement–demonstrated not by what they do but, rather, by what they don’t do. Chances are, these same managers are focusing their energy and attention on those employees with behavioral problems. If loyal employees aren’t recognized and appreciated for their contributions, they’ll be far less motivated to care about the success of the company. Sometimes, even the best employees will go through rough spots but will bounce back with more energy and loyalty when the company stands behind them with clearly defined expectations, quality training, and positive feedback.

Gallup estimates that actively disengaged workers in the United States miss 118.3 million more work days per year than their actively engaged counterparts. Harder to measure are their higher health care, workers’ compensation, and safety costs.
But disengaged employees who show up and simply go through the motions of work cause the biggest problem. It’s reflected in everything they don’t do and their constant complaints. It’s the negative effect their attitudes have on their co-workers and customers. This problem has become so common as to create a new word, “presenteeism.”

Gallup found that the cumulative effect of disengaged employees consistently reduces customer loyalty, sales, and profit margins. An “I don’t care” attitude by employees translates to an “I don’t care to do business with you” attitude by customers.

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