Disengaged Employees: How To Grow Your Employee Engagement Program

unengaged employees

While SocialToaster might be best known for our consumer-focused programs, we also work with several companies that utilize our platform to support their employee advocacy programs. That is, using the brand’s own employees to share and distribute content and other marketing materials. It’s standard for employee advocacy programs to see an initial recruitment bump when a program first launches, however many brands experience a bit of a lull in membership growth a few months after the program launches. We’ve laid out some tips to help push brand’s pass this lull by focusing their efforts on recruiting an often overlooked employee group: the unengaged employees.

We’ve updated this blog post with even more tips to help brands re-engaging with their disengaged employees in 2022.  

As an employer, you can break down your employees into three groups based on standard “Employee Engagement” terminology (see the corresponding 2015 Gallup poll):

  • 32% Engaged – employees who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work
  • 51% Not Engaged – employees who do the minimum required
  • 17% Actively Disengaged – employees who are unhappy at work and are busy acting out their unhappiness


It’s the 32% of engaged employees that are typically the first to champion and join an employee advocacy program. After all, they love working for you and have nothing but great things to say about your company. On the other side of the coin, the 17% of your workforce that is actively disengaged with the brand, there aren’t likely to join an employee advocacy program no matter what the incentive.

Hence the sweet spot for driving program growth is that 51% of your employee base that isn’t engaged, but is also not actively disengaged. Think of them as a neutral would-be army, standing ready to be inspired and activated by your company.

Often one of the main goals of an Employee Advocacy Program, in addition to promoting marketing objectives, is to increase the level of engagement within the employees of the company. Not just “social media engagement,” or activities taking place on social media, but actual employee engagement with the company itself.

Active engagement directly translates to increased productivity, lower employee turnover, and a host of additional tangible benefits. Essentially, the more engaged your employees are, the more green you see on the bottom line. Employee Advocacy programs are an ideal starting point for turning unengaged employees into actively engaged employees.

So How Do I Recruit Those Unengaged Employees?

There are a few quick rules to engaging the disengaged at work:

1) Make It Simple

The simpler the program is, the better the user experience, the more likely an unengaged employee is to join. For the 51% of your employees that are just “there for the paycheck,” going through the rigmarole of a complicated system is not something they’re going to do. At SocialToaster, we tackled this issue early on by creating our One-Click sharing process, making it easy for program members to share your content straight from their email.

2) Give Them a Reason to Join

While 30% of your employees will join simply because they love the company, the unengaged employee might need a bit more of a push. Adding an incentive to the program could be just what’s needed to turn the unengaged employee into an active participant. Gift cards, free lunches and even extra days of vacation are all strong incentives for driving recruitment into your employee advocacy program.

Contests between departments can also be a strong motivator, especially if you have a competitive streak built into the company culture. Set the rules, name the prize and get out of the way as your employees push themselves to outperform each other.

3) Make the Content Interesting

Perhaps both the easiest and the trickiest to accomplish: to further encourage your employees to sign up and start sharing your company’s content, you need to first make sure that the content is worth sharing. If you can help to elevate the perception of an employee as a thought leader within their circle of friends and colleagues, they’ll be more likely to join the program and stay engaged with it over the course of a year. After all, who doesn’t like a strong ego stroke here and there?

4) Be Empathetic To Their Time 

Before tasking you disengaged employees to start sharing your content, take the time to put yourselves in their shoes. Namely, do they have the space in their day to engage and share your branded content? If an employee feels overworked or tasked with more than they can get through in a day, adding  yet ANOTHER expectation to their plate might backfire. Keep an eye on their workload and set a reasonable expectation for involvement in any advocacy program.

5) Help Them Build Their Personal Brand

While gift cards and contest prizes can help to activate and inspire disengaged employees, the tactic is only as effective as the prize associated with it. To build lasting engagement, you need to ensure that your employee advocacy program can provide long-term benefits to your employees. One way to achieve this is to create content that helps to elevate your employee’s personal brands. Not only can helping your employees grow their prestige reignite a passion for your brand, it can also help your company’s efforts to recruit new team members into the fold.

Employee advocacy programs, like their consumer-centric brethren, live and die by its membership count. Don’t miss out on success by not focusing your program on that crucial 51%

Going After Unengaged Employees

Don’t hesitate – go after those unengaged employees! Get your advocacy marketing efforts started today – send us an emailrequest a free demo, or give us a call at 855.62.TOAST!

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