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Some employees quit but still come to work

Inside Business

Posted: October 21, 2008 3:27 p.m.
Updated: December 23, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Terri Kabachnick is the founder of The Kabachnick Group a company focused on teaching service-oriented businesses how to develop customer loyalty through employees.

The research conducted for her book, “I Quit But Forgot to Tell You,” states that up to 65 percent of all employees are disengaged. This figure is based on surveying, interviewing, assessing, analyzing and studying more than 44 organizations with more than 6,500 employees at every level. What was revealed through the research was a much deeper level of understanding of not just who among the employee population was disengaged but why the employee was disengaged.

Perhaps you know someone who has resigned from their job but didn’t bother to turn in their formal resignation or give notice. They still show up every day, doing nothing but the bare minimum to stay employed or avoid being fired, yet all the while collecting a paycheck and likely complaining about how little they are paid or how unfair the company is to them.

Poor performance by co-workers is a leading reason why engaged employees leave their jobs.  Good, hard-working employees often leave an employer because they have high confidence in their abilities, a proven track record, know they are talented and won’t be looking for work long. They choose to leave disengaged employees and the employer who tolerates them, behind.

It takes the typical manager nine months to recognize unacceptable work patterns; the manager waits on average another three months before addressing the issue — if it is ever addressed. 

Why do people become disengaged and unproductive? TKG has identified six major reasons.

The single biggest reason for disengagement is that there is a mismatch between the job and the employee. Applications and resumes focus on past activities and results. Jobs being filled are most often for what is needed in the future. In addition, jobs are defined by tasks to be accomplished instead of the values, behaviors and personal characteristics needed for success in the company.

The book states that within the companies surveyed, 72 percent of managers have failed to acquire interviewing, hiring and profiling skills. Less than one third of the companies use hiring tools, position competencies, job profiles, behaviors and beliefs or selling/service assessments.

This lack of acceptance and use of professional tools in recruiting perpetuates poor hiring.

A second reason is that an employee suffers from culture shock. This happens when a new employee joins an organization that is far different from the one they left, or when two companies join together, whether it is a merger or an acquisition. People see the differences between themselves and the place of employment. The process of disengagement begins when they cannot reconcile the two.

The third reason is being overworked and under appreciated. People become disengaged when they have a heavy workload, put in long hours and there is a lack of demonstrated appreciation.  High performers often are asked to take on more work because managers know that this kind of employee will do what is needed. But a lack of thanks for the effort is not tolerated by the engaged for long, especially as they compare their efforts to their disengaged colleagues.  

A fourth reason is the perception that managers play favorites. Someone not considered a favorite may tend to become disengaged from their supervisor and the organization. According to the research conducted by TKG, 83 percent of the managers hire people they “like” rather than what the job requires. It makes sense from a human perspective that managers would spend time with those people instead of spending time with people they were lukewarm to or did not like. Sixty-eight percent of an employee’s productivity, however, is directly attributable to the supervisor.

Bad boss
Employees at any level can become disengaged but it hurts the organization considerably more when that disengaged person is a manager. The fifth reason behind disengagement is the impact of a “bad boss.” A disengaged manager affects employees throughout the company as well as other managers. The performance of an employee will move 30 percent positively or negatively based on the environment they work in; their immediate supervisor creates and maintains that environment.

The sixth reason is that the “Peter Principle” kicks in. People accept promotions because they need or want the money and may want the prestige that goes with a new title. But someone who is promoted is often given more responsibilities; more work and that may breed resentment unless it is accompanied by continued praise and appreciation.

Employees become disengaged for a variety of reasons but that does not mean those employees have to stay that way. Who in your organization has quit but failed to tell you?   

Kenneth W. Keller is president of Renaissance Executive Forums in Valencia. His column represents his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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