There are a lot of tips on employee engagement circulating at the moment. It’s that time of year again where the January blues means a surge in job applications and employers focus their efforts on keeping the team motivated and productive. These tips are all well and good, but how can you tell if your employees are actively interested in their work or if they are simply complacent?

Turnover is high

Starting with the obvious one: if your employees are leaving roles with you at a rate higher than the industry average, you’ve got a problem. It’s as simple as that.

Targets are missed

One of the things that can put CEOs off from talking about employee engagement is the fear that costly changes will be made which will negatively affect productivity. The idea being that if staff feel too comfortable, they won’t be motivated to achieve business goals. Almost every worker will experience this type of workplace at some point in their career, usually headed up by a manager who will do anything to avoid confrontation.

Engagement is more complex than keeping employees happy at work; they must also have a leader with high standards to encourage them to meet and exceed targets.

No interest in incentives

There’s nothing worse than organising an employee get together or dress down Fridays, only to find there’s no uptake. If your team don’t want to attend work social events or decline perks, then either they aren’t invested in the business or you’re offering something they don’t want. If they aren’t invested in the business then they aren’t engaged and if you’re offering something they don’t want then you haven’t engaged with them. It’s important that this goes both ways.

Increase in absenteeism

Staff take more sick days in January than any other month of the year. Now of course some of that is down to the increase in winter-related illnesses but it’s also due to mental health issues more likely to be present at this time of the year, stress and anxiety, which can be reduced by investing in employee wellbeing. If your team are happy and healthy they’re less likely to take time off and if you are encouraging them towards that health and happiness they’re more likely to be engaged.

No brand interaction

This one is a subtle indication, but one worth looking for. You’ll probably be all too familiar with the notion that your employees should be your ‘brand ambassadors’, well, what if they aren’t? If your employees don’t have good things to say about you, if they don’t recommend you to friends looking for work or interact with your social media this is a sign that they aren’t engaged with the wider business.

To some business leaders, it might seem unimportant to keep employees engaged but – especially at a time when they may be looking to move around – it is essential. Retaining staff will always be more efficient than recruiting them, particularly as recruiting a new hire is thought to cost an average of £11,000.