Gallup polls have found that 75% of the workforce in America would classify themselves as "disengaged." When you think about what you see out there every day, this isn't too surprising. Frankly, I can't remember the last time I was actually asked if I wanted fries with anything I ordered at McDonald's, and that's McDonald's! What about the abundance of examples that you can find just by visiting your local retail outlets, or by walking through any given cube farm at a tech firm?
As disheartening as it is to see that 3/4 of our workforce isn't engaged in their jobs, the real human resources nightmare part of that number is the 15% of American workers who are what the book, The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave, calls Actively Disengaged. These are the people who are more than just apathetic about their jobs. They're angry and intentionally working against your company's objectives and goals from the inside. In short, they're already totally burned out, and they want to take you down with them.
If you've been reading my work on employee retention for long, you know that I am a big fan of being slow to fire people, opting to rather mentor and mold the employee through engagement and recognition. This is a hard article for me to write, personally, because of that belief, but I'm just going to lay it out there:
If your employee resides in that 15% of the population who is actively disengaged, it's time to swing the axe and cut off that dead weight.
Brutal, I know. But the truth of the matter is that keeping an employee on your payroll who is actively disengaged is not only a drain on your property's financial, but also on your emotional and managerial resources. According to a study reported by the Gallup Management Journal, these people cost the US economy between $292 and $355 BILLION dollars every year. The same study found that these employees miss, on average, 3.5 more days a year than other employees (and these people would be the ones who, despite the increased workload, you are THRILLED with when they call in sick.)
So what are the characteristics of someone who's an AD employee? Curt Coffman, author of First Break All The Rules, suggested in an interview with Gallup that it's a mindset you're looking for, what he called the, "I'm okay, you're okay." According to him, these are the negative employees who will shut out people who invite them to become part of a solution in preference to staying part of the problem and complaining about it. Coffman says they thrive on it. Don't assume, however, that negativity is always an indicator of active disengagement. He cautious to remember that we ALL can become negative from time to time, but the AD employee just never comes out of it, acting like a stroke causing blood clot to your team.
If you have a blood clot on your staff, you need to get it removed before property paralysis sets in and you lose upward mobility in the market. Negativity can easily spread throughout your team if you allow the constant barrage to continue, and burnout is the end effect. You start with one burned out team member, and end up with three open positions to fill.