One of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs, managers and business owners face is retaining good employees and curbing employee disengagement. As the CEO, you may be banking on some of your high performing team members to achieve certain targets, only to find to your dismay their resignation letters on your table one fine morning.

Resignations are rarely spur of the moment decisions. The employee reaches this decision after much thought. If you are an alert CEO or manager, you will be able to spot the signs of disengagement early and take remedial steps.

According to the, there are 3 types of employees:

Type 1: ENGAGED employees - they work with passion and feel a profound connection to the organization. They drive innovation and move the organization forward. (Engaged employees are 29% of the U.S. work force, according to a Gallup Poll.)

Type 2: NON-ENGAGED employees – they are essentially “checked out.” They’re sleepwalking through their workday, putting time—but little energy or passion—into their work. (56% of the work force)

Type 3: ACTIVELY DISENGAGED employees – they aren’t just unhappy at work: They’re busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged co-workers accomplish. (15% of the work force)

Building a good, efficient and reliable team of employees takes months, even years. If you are able to understand how employees gradually lose their enthusiasm and begin to disengage, you will be much better prepared to “interrupt the disengagement process and salvage key talent at critical, predictable points along the decision path to departure”. Consult fellow business managers, CEO peer groups or other entrepreneurs and CEOs in your CEO association or CEO club on how they face and resolve the challenges of employee disengagement.

Disengagement does not happen overnight. Just as building the human resource pool in a company takes months and years, disengagement happens progressively over weeks and months. Managers are often too busy managing the daily targets to notice a gradual disengagement in employee.

Let’s look at some sure symptoms of employee disengagement, which if ignored, cost heavily on the company.

1. Performance graph of an enthusiastic, efficient employee dips

When you find an enthusiastic, consistent high performer suddenly falling behind, take this as a warning sign. Find out what is causing this dip in performance – is it tedium or a bad team or unsatisfactory work hours or monetary expectations? Take remedial measures before it is too late.

2. Proactive employees become reactive
When you notice your proactive employees becoming reactive, its time to do a reality check. When employees stop offering suggestions, look disinterested in meetings, shy away from volunteering for projects, engage in absenteeism and late-comings, try to find out the actual reasons behind their negative and indifferent approach.

3. Tedium of working on same project for extended duration

Sometimes when you are stuck in a project that demands the same kind of work for a long duration, it leads to frustrations and fatigue. Make sure you give your employees the freedom and flexibility to explore different work areas and projects within their departments. And even if they are required to work on the same project for longer periods, change roles and switch tasks. It will help keep the interest level high.

4. Consistently long hours of work

Work pressures and demanding deadlines require employees to do overtime often. Make sure this does not become a constant practice. Grueling hours of work on a consistent basis dampen productivity levels and reduce employee engagement. If the project requires long hours of work over an extended period, give short breaks to your employees in between, a coffee break or an occasional snack treat. Once the project is successfully over, celebrate with a small tea party or lunch on the house.

5. Change in team management

One of the reasons cited in exit interviews for leaving is an unsatisfactory change in team management. If you change the head of the department or team leader of some high performing employees, keep a close watch on your employees’ acceptance of the new manager, their reactions and their performance graph post change.

In the next part of this series, we will take a look at the ways in which you can reverse employee disengagement. If you are alert and able to spot the warning signals, you can stop the slide before it is too late.

Author's Bio: 

Tom Bordon is a freelance writer who has extensively written about CEO club and executive coaching sessions. His articles focus on guiding CEOs, business leaders and entrepreneurs on how to manage their time effectively and make new business plans, and strategies in a CEO association or CEO peer group.