Our staff don't care - 6 ways to turn disempowered, demoralised, demotivated and underperforming staff into engaged employees.


If you've got this far you know disengaged staff are a big problem, but you might not know quite how big. In 2005 David Bolchover took it upon himself to find out what actively disengaged employees do when at work (and also when not). Scouring the research, he found that:

  •   1 in 3 people have taken illegal drugs at work: ecstasy, cannabis, and cocaine
  •   1 in 5 people have had sex at work
  •   70% of porn site hits happen during working hours
  •   The actively disengaged have twice as much time off sick (and many of them are to be found at theme parks, apparently)
  •   1 in 5 people describe themselves as constantly surfing the net, while a majority of people estimate they spend the equivalent of a day a week on non-work websites at work
  •   7% send more than 20 personal emails a day
  •   1/3 of young professionals confess to being hung over twice a week at work; and
  •   A quarter of people have fallen asleep at work


Think of the productivity gains from tackling this effectively! So how do you do that?


  1. Using strengths and talents. People encouraged to use their strengths at work are about 2.5 times as likely to be engaged as those who are encouraged to focus on their weaknesses. They are particularly more likely to be engaged if they get to use their strengths every day. Help people identify their strengths either with good psychometric tools like Strengthscope, or through Appreciative Inquiry discovery interviews and Feedback Strengths Cards.
  2. Experiencing flow. When people are in flow they are engaged. Flow is the state you experience when you're doing something you enjoy and loose yourself in, the sort of activity where you loose track of time because you are completely engageed in what you're doing. Flow experiences occur at work but aren’t always recognised as such. Help people understand their flow experiences. To discover them, inquire into when they ‘lose’ themselves in their work, or ask them when they feel ‘in the zone’.
  3. The helpful use of goals and rewards. Much goal setting at work is poorly done. At its best goal setting provides opportunities for people to experience plentiful, positive and meaningful rewards (positive reinforcement). Working for social or self-satisfaction rewards can be highly motivating and engaging. The sustainable reward pattern is one that is self-reinforcing e.g. the more or better I do, the better I feel. 
  4. Help people find meaning in work. When people are engaged in work that they experience as meaningful, they are more engaged. People can be helped to create positive meaning at work, particularly when groups are given the opportunity talk to each other about why their work is meaningful to them, to the organisation, and to the world. It's all about context - there's a big difference between doing a routine task just because that's your job and doing it because you understand how that helps, in its own small way, to reduce childhood poverty or help people buy their first car.
  5. Create positive emotional experience moments. The research into positive emotions continues to demonstrate the powerful positive effects of a high ratio of feeling good moments to feeling bad moments. Create environments where positive moments: a shared laugh, sharing good news, pauses for wonderment at the achievements of others, happens often.
  6. Encourage job crafting. Helping people to shape their roles and tasks in a way that maximises their sense of meaningfulness, their ability to use their strengths, their self-reinforcement and the pleasure they can take in their work will boost their engagement and their performance. Hire good people then fit the roles to them, not the other way round.


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A little about us...

We work with organisations that are struggling to change how they work. We help avoid and reduce resistance to change and other problems so that people get stuck in to making change actually happen, saving you time and money.  

We do this using several techniques, including Appreciative Inquiry, that make it possible for the people affected by the change to see it as an opportunity that they can get involved in rather than a threat or burden that’s being imposed on them. That way they can become your partners in change rather than the source of problems to be overcome. If you and your organisation need help with this call 0845 055 9874 or email jemsmith@acukltd.com to arrange for a free 30 minute initial consultation.