8 Signs of Unengaged Service Employees To Watch Out For

Customer service is a tedious career, your customer service team have to absorb a lot of negative energy and also act friendly while taking the hit, most of which would come from customers angry who don’t care whose fault the problem is. Being a customer-centric manager, you should not only be able to quickly spot signs of unengaged service employees but also, know how you can improve engagement and the productivity of your team. 

While signs of disengaged employees might not be immediately obvious, they are relatively easy to spot, once you know what to look out for. Here are 8 signs of unengaged service employees you should look out for –

#1. Employees Spend Time Doing Nothing

signs of unengaged service employeesIt is allowed for your employees to chat with each other briefly while on the job or getting coffee or water. It actually enhances team bonding and is healthy for a good work environment. But when it becomes the order of the day for your service team to do more chatting and less work, you might have a problem. For instance, if your service reps start spending more time in the break rooms than on their desk, or prefer to chat in the hallways rather than work then you know something isn’t right.

It could be as a result of poor supervision, or simply because they find the tasks they are assigned quite unengaging. Perhaps the managers (or supervisors) have assigned tasks unrelated to the employee’s strengths or skill set. Few employees will have the ability to keep at such tasks for long before they find it boring, this opens the door to low job satisfaction.

#2. Unsatisfied Customers

Your service team and your customers have a unique relationship. If your customers are unhappy, your employees cannot be happy and vice versa. If you notice a spike in employee-related customer complaints, then something is definitely not right, especially if the complaints are about employees who normally perform well. This could be a sign that your team is unengaged. You should probe further to find out what the problem might be.

It could be a new company policy that was rolled out recently, an unkept promise by management or even setting unrealistic targets. You must understand that the spike in customer complaints has a root cause, after all, no employee wakes up and thinks “Let me go and ruin some customer experiences today”.

#3. Absenteeism

Frequent absenteeism is often a sign of an employee who is sick of work, they’d rather be elsewhere than show up for work. If you notice your service team suddenly calling in sick too often, or simply not showing up without reason, then they might have become unengaged.

Other factors such as an unhealthy workload or unrealistic targets can make your team dread showing up for work. You should probe further, find out if you need additional staff to absorb the workload, or offer more perks to motivate your team.

#4. Increased Friction Among Employees

employees fightingDisengaged employees would often express their frustration with aggression or hostility towards other team members. They are not interested in solving any problems or adding any value to the organization. They only reason they still show up is their paycheck.

If you notice your employees recently seem to be at each other’s necks, you should take proactive steps to find out what the problem might be. The negativity of a hostile workplace would affect every employee and also lower productivity.

#5. Frequent Lateness

Employees showing up a little late to work each day might not necessarily be a sign of disengagement, maybe these employees simply lack time management skills. But when a chunk of your employees start showing up considerably late to work frequently and with flimsy excuses, then it is something you ought to look into.

You should engage your team to find out if there any pain-points they are having which you might not be aware of.

#6. High Attrition Rates

The customer service industry already has high attrition rates, you might have to compare your attrition rates with that of your competitors or the industry average.
To calculate the attrition rate for any given period you need to know the total number of employees at the beginning of the period and also the number of new employees added during that period, then determine the number of employees who left. The number of employees who left is the number of attrition. Check out this article on how you can calculate attrition rates.

#7. Poor Work Quality

A declining quality of work from employees who usually deliver high-quality output might indicate an unengaged service team. When employees are disengaged, they tend to stop paying attention to detail and will no longer care about the quality of their work. They only do just enough work to justify their pay.

You might notice increased error rates and a decline in the speed at which they usually get the work done. This is a sign that your team has lost motivation or have become unengaged.

#8. Unwillingness to use Discretion

Engaged employees would use their discretion not because it is obligatory, but they want to. Unengaged employees would normally do just enough work not get them fired. They wouldn’t use discretion even when it seems like common sense because they don’t believe the effort is worth it.

Some employees might deliberately choose not to use discretion as a passive-aggressive way of expressing their frustration. If you identify a consistent lack of discretion among your service team, see it as a red flag you should investigate further, it could also be a lack of training or a company policy that discourages your team from making their unique individual contributions to service delivery.


A disengaged service team will impact poorly on your customers’ experience. It is important to identify the possible factors that could be affecting employee engagement in your organization, and then address them appropriately.

Most times, rewarding and recognizing employees is a great way to improve engagement, and there are lots of ways you could achieve that.

Published by

Kelechi Okeke

Kelechi Okeke is a Customer Experience Analyst in a leading financial institution in sub-Saharan African. He helps businesses develop strategies that improve customer loyalty and enhance profitability. He is also a customer service trainer, content developer and graphic designer