SURVEY SAYS: Reasons for Employee Disengagement

PLANSPONSOR NewsDash readers report what they think is the factor that most contributes to employee disengagement.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers which, from a list of factors, do they think MOST CONTRIBUTES to employees becoming disengaged at work.

The top reason selected, by far, was lack of appreciation shown by management (44.2%). Half as many (21.1%) chose “poor communication among employees and managers,” and 9.6% selected “nothing new to learn.” Coming in fourth, was “loss of interest in the work,” chosen by 7.7% of respondents, and “bad relationships in the workplace” (5.8%) rounded out the top five.

“Underpaid” was selected by 3.8% of responding readers, while “workload is too great,” “lack of work/life balance,” “lack of ability to move up” and “none of the above” each received 1.9% of readers’ votes. No readers selected “poor benefits or lack of benefits” or “personal reasons not related to work.”

Of course, a combination of factors can contribute to employee disengagement, and this point was made by the small group of respondents who chose to leave comments. Suggested additions to the list were bad managers, lack of empowerment and change for the sake of change. Factors that were touted as most important coincided with the top two selected as those that most contribute to disengagement. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “This is a tough one! I think for most people, it is a combination of issues. For me personally, I’m just running out of steam and am looking forward to retirement in a couple years! :)”

Thanks to all who participated in the survey!


A little praise/thank you goes a long way.

All of the suggested choices are relevant. A job is like a marriage; there’s seldom any one reason why you stay or leave. An accumulation of reasons will send employees out the door.

Probably a little bit of “all of the above,” but it all comes down to the value placed on communication.

Relationships have always been the tipping factor for me. If your coworkers or supervisor(s) are making the work and non-work interactions difficult, the work eventually suffers as a result.

I believe most employees want to perform well and be appreciated/acknowledged for the work they do. If you continue to be ignored or overlooked for the work you do, it becomes just a “job” and you give up trying to do your best.

In my experience, a bad manager can turn a job you love into a source of dread. I’ve only left two organizations and both were due to unbearable managers. On the flip side, a great manager can make an ok job worth staying at for the longer-term.

In my experience it usually comes down to the manager. A bad manager can sour an entire team, ultimately sending them elsewhere in the company or to other companies.

It truly is all about environment…no one wants to work long hours and not hear what an excellent job they are doing…that just goes against all of human nature and kindness…

I would add lack of empowerment to this list.

Change for the sake of change. I believe in the “if it’s not broke, doesn’t need to be fixed” seems that is the new rule in Bschool that new grads bring to the table. Not always thought through and implemented effectively before pushed out.

It only takes a little to keep most employees happy. When employees feel their voice isn’t heard is when things start to go downhill.

This is a tough one! I think for most people, it is a combination of issues. For me personally, I’m just running out of steam and am looking forward to retirement in a couple years! 🙂

The importance of communication cannot be overstated. It is key to having engaged employees who understand the company’s values and mission.

Sometimes it is just that one person you just can’t seem to agree with or work with well and it causes whole days to be at a disconnect.

Too bad that I can only choose one item above. Seems like you have hit on many factors that cause this. Not sure one is the MOST.

I think all your options contribute to becoming disengaged, but for me, it’s when I feel unappreciated for putting in extra time daily because of my workload and they just add more to it.


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) or its affiliates.