How to Measure Employee Engagement and Spot Disengagement

BY Keren Dinkin | April 09, 2024

When we think about engagement, we think about all of the different ways that we track engagement consciously and subconsciously. In some ways, we track engagement by just realizing things, like who’s on camera during meetings online, who has a green dot next to their name, and who has a yellow dot next to their name. 

These are all of the different ways to subconsciously track engagement, but there are biases in each observation because context is key. Just because a person is off camera doesn’t mean they’re less engaged. They might be in a crowded spot or have a background that’s distracting, so they’ve elected to be off-camera. Or maybe their WiFi just isn’t as strong as it needs to be on that particular day.

Regardless of the industry or nature of business, maintaining a high level of team productivity is crucial, and disengagement can be a significant obstacle. Learning to recognize the signs of employee disengagement early is key to preventing its negative impact. In a recent From Day One webinar led by ActivTrak colleagues, Gabriella Mauch, VP of Productivity Lab, and Javier Aldrete, SVP of product, the speakers discussed how boosting self-awareness and manager coaching can help address disengagement before employees check out.

Gabriela Mauch, pictured, led the webinar alongside colleague Javier Aldrete (company photo)

We’re making all these subconscious assumptions about engagement because we know that engagement leads to great results, says Mauch. But disengagement, on the flip side, leads to harmful attrition. As such, it’s important that we find better ways to track engagement so that we can drive to a healthy work environment. Mauch shares that only 23% of employees are fully engaged in their work, leaving over 75% of employees at risk of disengagement. 

This can cost organizations a significant amount of money, both from an attrition standpoint, a knowledge management standpoint, and the productivity they’re not necessarily getting out of their business. The benefit of addressing employee disengagement is the ability to get a better return on workforce investments. 

Organizations can see up to 40% improvement in employee churn and burnout rates, plus an opportunity to gain 15% to 25% in productivity when disengagement is addressed effectively, says Mauch. “So often, disengagement and quiet quitting is a function of that individual not being properly aligned to their work, not being properly coached by their manager, or not being properly guided by their leadership team,” said Mauch. 

It’s  important to learn how to use insights to better inform leaders, managers, and individuals to be more thoughtful about productivity and more engaged in the work being done. As such, it’s important to have measurable indicators into our work environment. 

This means understanding when we have individuals performing with low focus, low working hours, and perhaps very passive participation. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the individual doesn't want to be working. Instead, there’s an opportunity to coach and guide the employee to work the right way, on the right things, at the right time. 

Mauch encourages employers to be thoughtful about employee behavior as a helpful indicator of engagement. This means observing things like people coming into the office, badging in, and leaving two hours later merely to show their faces. This could be because while they are expected to be in office, they might actually be more productive at home. 

The final thing to note is whether or not employees are making the impact you expect them to be making. Here are some questions to ask: Are they putting in the productivity that you would expect? Are you getting the output that you expect to earn, and are you ultimately getting the revenue that you would expect? 

By collecting insights on an ongoing basis, you can gain a level of understanding of engagement on an ongoing basis. Additionally, leaders need to identify the factors that are contributing to employee disengagement and quiet quitting in their particular context, as well as invest in measures to improve them.

Editor's note: From Day One thanks our partner, ActivTrak, for sponsoring this webinar. 

Keren's love for words saw her transition from a corporate employee into a freelance writer during the pandemic. When she is not at her desk whipping up compelling narratives and sipping on endless cups of coffee, you can find her curled up with a book, playing with her dog, or pottering about in the garden.


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