Find out the meaning of employee disengagement and how to calculate the employee engagement index.

Employee disengagement definition, formula and examples

Employee disengagement is catastrophic to any organization since it results to low employee productivity. Disengaged employees only do what is required of them sometimes amid complaints, they avoid doing extra, they tend to take more sick days and exhibit low morale. This is unlike engaged employees who are passionate and emotionally committed to their work, are innovative and devoted in fulfilling the goals of the company.


An employee can be engaged, not engaged or actively disengaged. While it is easy to spot an engaged or an actively disengaged employee, an employee who is not engaged is likely to blend in and therefore difficult to spot. According to Gallup poll 2014, the ‘not engaged’ employees were the majority at 51% while those engaged was 31% and those actively disengaged at 17.5%.

Detecting the early signs of disengagement

Considering the negative impact disengagement can have on the company, it is essential to deal with it early. The not engaged employees may not portray the obvious signs of disengagement but may tend to perform well, not miss work and fulfill their duties but they may portray the early signs of disengagement.

An employee who is ‘not engaged’ may lack motivation and may opt not to take part even in the fun activities in the company; they are silent and may not take part in celebrating a company’s achievement. They are not enthusiastic about learning new things to enable them to grow their career in the company. Early detection of disengagement can help to curb it before it spreads.

Formulas for employee disengagement

One of the commonly used formula for employee disengagement is the employee engagement index by Gallup.

The index measures the percentage of employees who are engaged, not engaged and those who are actively disengaged. The calculation is based on the response the employees provide to 12 questions that are considered important in employee engagement that include customer service, retention, productivity, quality, profit and safety.

For instance, if a company conducts the Q12engagement survey, it may find that engaged employees are a 25%, those not engaged are 55% and those actively disengaged are 20%. The company may then get the ratio of the engaged employees to that of those actively disengaged. In this case, it would be 1.25 to 1. However, the worrying figure is the not engaged employees, who are usually the majority in the company according to research.

Alternatively, an organization can create engagement questions and calculate the engagement index by comparing the responses of the level of engagement for each year. The index is calculated by dividing the number of employees who are engaged by the total employees surveyed.