How To Spot Disengaged Employees


Statistics show that employee disengagement in the workplace is at an all-time high. According to the Dale Carnegie Institute, 71% of all employees are not fully engaged, and 26% of all employees are actively disengaged.

Why does it matter?

Because organizations with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%.

What does this mean for your church?

With a fully engaged church staff, you are more likely to meet and surpass your ministry goals while you reach your community for Christ. Without an engaged church staff, your church will likely become stagnant, be irrelevant to its surrounding community, and struggle to find its purpose.

If you are the leader of your church staff, ask yourself if you are engaged or disengaged? If you as the leader are doing the minimum to scrape by, chances are your employees are, too.

So how do you spot a disengaged employee? Here are five ways.

1. They aren’t actively pursuing goals or deadlines.

Disengaged employees are only interested in doing the bare minimum. They are not proactive and do not take initiative. Every employee should have ministry goals and reasonable deadlines for when those goals should be achieved. If one of your church staff members isn’t excited about setting, meeting, and exceeding their ministry goals, they are likely disengaged.

Not meeting a goal does not always equate to disengagement. There could be a motivated, engaged employee who is working hard to meet his or her goal but isn’t properly resourced. In that case, the leader is failing to properly equip his or her team with the tools they need to succeed.

Disengagement is evident when an employee doesn’t seem to be motivated to do their job well and is passive when confronted about it.

2. They work harder at maxing out their vacation days than they do at their job.

A disengaged employee isn’t feeling fulfilled in their workplace, so they are going to do everything they can to avoid being there. Do you have employees that are looking for ways to take additional time off or are taking time off when they are not performing at an optimal level?

Of course, every employee should have enough time off worked into their benefits to avoid burnout, and leadership should encourage every employee to use their vacation to seek rest and rejuvenation.  This is especially true in ministry when pastors and church leaders are on call every hour of the day to care for their congregation.

However, when an employee is coming in late or abusing their paid time off, it’s time to assess their overall engagement and happiness at work.

3. They aren’t coming to staff events or social gatherings.

Every healthy church has a healthy church staff culture. Effective teams enjoy being around each other. When an employee stops coming to team lunches, spontaneous outings, or planned employee events, they are likely disengaged and withdrawing from the team intentionally.

If this kind of behavior becomes a pattern, sit down with the employee and ask them how they are doing. The earlier you can talk to the disengaged team member about why they are withdrawing, the sooner you can address the issue before it affects the rest of the team. If it is because of an interpersonal conflict with another member of the team, you will be able to address the conflict and come to a resolution before it affects your team culture and chemistry.

4. They aren’t coming to church functions voluntarily.

Similar to the point above, if your church staff member has stopped attending the church voluntarily or being a part of the church’s spiritual community through small groups or another program, this is a sign of a disengaged church staff member.

When we help our clients find their key staff members, we’re interviewing for chemistry with the team on which they will be working, theology, and a culture match for both the church and the town in which it is located. If one of these components is missing, you have a high chance that he or she will become disengaged and withdrawn from community.

5. They start or engage in gossip among the staff.

Our friend and client Dave Ramsey has a strict no gossip policy on his team. His staff has grown to about 500 employees, and he still sticks to his zero tolerance for gossip policy. Why does he have this policy? Because he knows that disengaged employees tend to be negative, blame shifters, and start gossip that is toxic to the effectiveness of the entire team and organization. If you have a staff member who is known as the team gossip, don’t tolerate it any longer.

If you have a disengaged employee, read our article How To Fire A Friend: Subtracting For Growth. This article will help you discern if it is time to put the disengaged employee on a course of correction of let them go.

What other ways can you spot a disengaged employee?

If you liked this, then you’ll also like 8 Ways To be Excellent In The Workplace.