Tips For EAP Practitioners: Counselling For Lack Of Participation | EAPA-SA

Without writing an employee off, employers and managers first need to consider their approach toward assisting floundering employees to become re-engaged at work.  Employee engagement is defined as:  a property of the relationship between an organization and its employees.  An “engaged employee” is defined as one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.1



There are 3 categories in employee engagement:

  • Intellectual engagement : Thinking about one’s job and how to do it better
  • Affective engagement: Feeling positive about doing a good job
  • Social engagement:  Actively taking opportunities to discuss work-related improvements with others at work2


Tips For Counselling For Lack Of Participation

1. Give feedback
Before reprimanding an employee for his or her lack of engagement give that person as much feedback as possible on how it is impacting on their performance. Communicate what has changed and how the individual’s approach should be modified.  Provide a time frame for turning things around. Sometimes all people need is to be pointed in the right direction.

2. Listen to any points of contention
Find out if there is a reason for the attitude change. Has the employee stopped putting in effort because of unhappiness over something? Discovering the cause of this problem is essential. Showing an interest in the work of employees can significantly boost a company’s culture and morale.

3. Find out what makes your employee tick
Sometimes employee disengagement stems from feeling undervalued (as opposed to resentment over too much work) and the only way to overcome this is by understanding the individual involved. Take the time to get to know employees.  Find out what their long-term goals and aspirations are, and where they would like to see their career headed in the short and longer term.  This knowledge will ensure that workers are assigned to the right roles and tasks.

4. Address any orgnisational concerns
If an employee highlights a concern that could affect more than one person then address the problem.  For example, if an employee feels as though he or she is overburdened by work others may feel the same way. Call a meeting with managers of the relevant departments to discuss the issue and find out what they would like to see improve and how the team can accomplish this. This collaborative approach will help employees feel valued and part of the company’s development which will boost employee engagement.

5. Create performance goals
It is important to include employees in the process of outlining individual performance targets. Find out how the employee would like to improve, what they would like to achieve and what new skills they would like to learn. Inviting this level of engagement motivate employees to work hard and strive to improve.

6. Follow up
Once a goal is set, be sure to monitor the progress. Successful managers hold their employees accountable.  If the employee has been asked to complete a task by a certain date, make sure that it has been accomplished. Most employees will appreciate this structure and respect the manager’s due diligence.

7. Reward improvement
Continue to provide feedback on performance and reward employees for making progress. It is certain to alienate a disengaged employee if you ask for improvement then fail to reward their effort and success. A simple “thank you” or “well done” goes a long way.

8. Formally act on continued lack of engagement
If an employee continues to underperform, a manager should formally address this behaviour. This lets the employee know the manager is serious and will not tolerate attitudes that are not conducive to a good group dynamic.  The knock-on effect may be that team-mates who are working hard  become disengaged if they see the individual slacking off without repercussions.

To receive more articles like this, directly to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here