How to identify employee disengagement

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Managers, imagine a scenario in which five employees on your ten-person team are dissatisfied and disengaged at work, either mildly or acutely. What if a few of those five are acting as cranky force multipliers, wreaking havoc with your best performers’ morale?

That scenario is not a stretch, recent McKinsey research shows.1Some employees are destroying value. Others are building it. Do you know the difference?,” McKinsey Quarterly, September 11, 2023. In fact, more than half of employees we surveyed report being relatively dissatisfied with their jobs. That’s a big percentage that strikes at the heart of value creation for organizations that are already facing rising labor costs and declining worker productivity.

To help solve the problem, managers should first figure out where employees fall along a satisfaction spectrum (exhibit). Our short quiz gets at the core of which employee archetype best describes most employees. Giving the quiz to your team—for them to answer anonymously, for obvious reasons—may provide fodder for some interesting conversations and spur actions to improve engagement.

Workers can be grouped into six archetypes along the satisfaction spectrum.


Five questions help discern the archetypes present on your team

Tallying the score

Our research shows that better performance and higher well-being lead to healthier workplaces and more consistent organizational performance. Managers who move their employees up the satisfaction spectrum toward higher engagement are therefore making a strategic choice.

A final thought as the new year gets under way: an organization’s working model plays an important role in the engagement level of employees. Our research shows that while most thriving stars do best in a remote-working environment, a hybrid model can maximize the benefits for the highest number of people. Coming in last: working mostly in person. Caveat employer.

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