LifeXchange

Employee Withdrawal: What if People Suddenly Disengage at Work?

Disinterested in work. Lost profits. And what to do about it. Here’s what causes employee withdrawal, what it’s costing your company and how to start fixing it today

Doing the bare minimum. Always looking to leave early. And looking for reasons to quit. Employee withdrawal is a serious trend affecting virtually every company in the world. But how far are we going to get blaming it all on “lazy” or “inadequate” employees?

Now, just as important as understanding your company culture and investing in help from a change management company, looking internally to see what’s really causing employee withdrawal and disengagement in your company is vital. Especially since research shows it’s costing our businesses money every year. 

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WHAT IS EMPLOYEE WITHDRAWAL (DEFINITION)

What does it mean when someone withdraws at work? Well, a definition for employee withdrawal is: Taking specific actions or exhibiting certain behaviors to disengage themselves from your organisation. And there are many behaviors that fall in this class: From being passive and complacent to doing the absolute bare minimum at work and not being creative in their role.

Sound familiar? According to several bits of research by The Pennsylvania State University, we can also distinguish between physical withdrawal behaviors, like tardiness, absenteeism and quitting your job, and psychological withdrawals, like being present but unproductive. And it’s often thought that what we call burnout is actually a form of withdrawal behavior, just a compounding of all the emotional and psychological stress of being disengaged that flares up as a physical condition over time.

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IS EMPLOYEE WITHDRAWAL COMMON?

Yes. VERY. A shocking bit of recent research has shown that around 84% of employees are disengaged and withdrawn at work. That’s more than 8 out of every 10 people – see why only 16% of employees are engaged.

In fact, more research shows that 9 out of 10 employees walk into a new job perfectly prepared to quit in the first month – see why new employees quit. And of course, it has to do with job satisfaction, but another factor is how well your company builds trust because a lack of trustworthiness is the first thing that makes people withdraw – see our post on Erikson’s theory.

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HOW DOES IT AFFECT YOUR COMPANY?

Well, there’s an actual term called “withdrawal turnover”, to give you an idea. But a high turnover rate (and the extremely high costs of replacing an employee) are just the most obvious costs of withdrawal to your company.

The State of the Global Workplace study by performance gurus Gallup, estimated that all the behaviors associated with withdrawal cost the US economy around $450 billion in 2017. It was about $151 billion in Germany and $83 billion in the United Kingdom. (Man, wish we had local SA stats!)

And, in 2017, positive psychology coach Kerstin Jatho spoke to News 24 about the same study, saying the SA mining industry is a clear example of a vital employment sector that’s plagued by labour unrest. But that’s the far end of the spectrum. Closer to home, maybe even inside your company, you feel the pressure of having to continually innovate and be creative. And the thing is, you need your people to give 100% to do that.

“People can choose whether or not to be engaged,” she says, “and for someone to bring their heart to work, they really need to believe in the values and culture of your organisation. The work needs to excite them. Being proud of your company certainly helps people choose to be engaged.”

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SIGNS, SYMPTOMS & BEHAVIORS WITH EMPLOYEE WITHDRAWAL

A 2016 study on “Pre-Quitting” behaviors found a number of signs/symptoms of employee withdrawal that indicated whether a person is looking to quit their job within 12 months:

  • Less team spirit, not a team player anymore
    (see what’s really behind the trend of workplace exclusion)
  • Less interested in pleasing their manager
    (see why employees don’t ask for more work clarity)
  • Less willing to commit to long-term timelines
  • Leave work early more frequently
  • Lost enthusiasm for the organisation’s mission
    (see what happens when there’s a perception that your company lacks core values)
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BREAK THE JOB WITHDRAWAL TREND: FOCUS ON YOUR COMPANY CULTURE

People need a clear purpose and mission to embody every day. Their work needs to be more than tasks, their job more than just a position they fill. They need to feel and see how they’re adding value and how they fit into the bigger picture.

That’s how you can start to counter employee withdrawal, and, instead, build a high-performance culture. (For employee engagement specifically, also see the list of Clifton Strengths.)

Need help?

Good news! We are a change management company, and we specialise in helping companies discover, change and develop their Company Culture. We help companies get right down to understand their employees’ behaviors – in meetings, their work and interactions with each other! – and use science-based organizational development to re-energise your people.

And we WILL SEND a team to your company RIGHT NOW to help find out how to get your people aligned  – with no obligation from you! (Just book your assessment below).

Let’s figure out what’s going on, so we can help you get back to high performance.


ABOUT OUR #COMPANYCULTURE PROJECT

The more you look at it, the more of the common, everyday struggles we face inside our companies are related to our organizational cultures. Even the most apparent efficiency and performance obstacles we face come as a result of cultures.

That’s why we’ve tasked our #TeamCompanyCulture to talk directly to the issues we see in our businesses every day. Connect with the team via solutions@lifexchangesolutions.com or phone 071 918 3217.


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