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Employee disengagement: is there evidence of a growing problem?

Richard Pech (Director of Research at La Trobe University’s Graduate School of Management in Melbourne, Australia. He can be reached at r.pech@latrobe.edu.au or Phone +61 (0) 3 9479 3119.)
Bret Slade (Director of Staffing and a Senior Lecturer at La Trobe University’s Graduate School of Management in Melbourne, Australia. He can be reached at b.slade@latrobe.edu.au or Phone +61 (0) 3 9479 3116.)

Handbook of Business Strategy

ISSN: 1077-5730

Article publication date: 1 January 2006

13907

Abstract

Purpose

The article discusses employee disengagement, a phenomenon where employees are at work but are minimizing their work contribution.

Design/methodology/approach

Examples of disengagement are discussed as well as possible causes. This is a call for further research in order to examine whether employee disengagement is rampant in our organizations, and on the increase while being largely ignored by managers, or whether it is a myth and should be of little concern to anyone.

Findings

The phenomenon of employee disengagement appears to be correlated with conditions where there is a lack of psychological identification and psychological meaningfulness. Disengagement also appears to be maximized under conditions of poor leadership and when levels of trust between managers and subordinates are low. Evidence suggests that there are large discrepancies in the methods and the scales used to measure employee engagement and disengagement.

Practical implications

There is much conflicting and anecdotal evidence that employee disengagement is increasing. Disengagement may result from numerous causes and conditions. Once the catalysts for disengagement are understood, managers can be better equipped to deal with falling employee commitment and energy levels, thus gaining greater traction on the global business landscape.

Originality/value

This paper argues that the phenomenon of employee disengagement is increasing but that the methods for its identification are inadequate. Finally, the authors argue that the majority of managers seem unwilling or unable to halt the rising tide of employee disengagement.

Keywords

Citation

Pech, R. and Slade, B. (2006), "Employee disengagement: is there evidence of a growing problem?", Handbook of Business Strategy, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 21-25. https://doi.org/10.1108/10775730610618585

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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