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How To Reengage Employees

Todd Davis

May 2017


The first step in reengaging employees is identifying those who have disengaged, because hardly anyone is going to come to you to let you know that they have emotionally quit their job. Apart from when they stop showing up for work, emotional disengagement can be a little more subtle and a little more difficult to uncover.


It shows up in ways as simple as if the work day begins in 8:00am, they show up at 8:01 and if it ends at 5:00PM, they leave at 4:59. You don’t see them volunteering for projects or going the extra mile. Their creativity, their ideas, and their suggestions go missing.


They show up and they do the bare minimum. They are compliant to stay employed and to not get put on a performance plan. Enthusiastic and engaged employees act like they are owners of the business. Whether they are actual owners of the business or not. They come to work every day as if they did. It’s the difference between a job and a career.


Once you have identified disengaged employees, the next step is not so clear cut. There is no one set answer, because every situation is different.


That is actually the key.


Because every situation is different, we first have to get into the head, the mind, and the heart of the person who has become disengaged. It requires us to pause for a minute from everything that we are doing and think:


What are they worried about? What are they excited about? What matters to them?


We often lose sight of what matters to individuals because we get so caught up in our company mission and goals, which are all important, but trying to boil it down to what it means to the disengaged employee and looking at it through their eyes is the key to getting someone reengaged who has become disengaged.


What matters to them? Why is this relevant to them? When we start thinking about that, sometimes it’s something as basic as asking them. Why did you join the company in the first place? What’s still fulfilling about that and what’s become less fulfilling about that?


People appreciate being asked those things. Whether you can resolve it, or whether you can’t, just the fact that you are asking what is important to them is huge. It’s what we call a deposit in their emotional bank account. It’s this willingness to see things from their perspective and the sincerity to want to do something about it that will lay the foundation to actually reengaging them. 


Whether it’s challenging them with different things, aligning their work with their passions, or something yet to be determined, make the first move and ask. 

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Todd Davis

Todd Davis is the author of FranklinCovey’s newest book, Get Better: 15 Proven Practices to Build Effective Relationships at Work, available for pre-order May 9, 2017, and to be released on November 7, 2017. He is also a co-author of Talent Unleashed: 3 Leadership Conversations to Ignite the Unlimited Potential in People.


Davis has over 30 years of experience in human resources, talent development, executive recruiting, sales, and marketing. Having been with FranklinCovey for over 20 years, he currently serves as chief people officer, executive vice president, and is on the executive team. He is responsible for global talent development in over 40 offices in 160 countries. As the former director of FranklinCovey’s Innovations Group, Davis led the development of many of the company’s core offerings. He also served as the company’s director of recruitment, responsible for attracting, hiring, and retaining more than 3,500 employees.


He has delivered numerous keynote addresses and speeches at industry conferences, associations, corporate events, and for FranklinCovey clients, many of which are Fortune® 500 companies. His topics include leadership, personal and interpersonal effectiveness, employee engagement, talent management, change management and building winning cultures. 


Davis has served on the Board of Directors for and is a member of the Association for Talent Development (ATD) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).