That’s a fairly accurate summary of why employees are disengaged in today's workplace. Why should management care, though, as long as the work is getting done? Recent Gallup findings offer a strong argument as to why you should:
“In average organizations, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 1.5:1. In world-class organizations, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is near 8:1. Actively disengaged employees erode an organization's bottom line while breaking the spirits of colleagues in the process. Within the U.S. workforce, Gallup estimates this cost to be more than $300 billion in lost productivity alone.”Unfortunately the Money Watch article offered only two solutions for the dissatisfied employee: find a new job or “use your other 8 hours” to do what you care about. From the manager point of view, that second option is almost worst than the first as it encourages the employee to disengage even more while at work.
So what should managers and company leadership do to become world-class organizations and recover that lost productivity? Target the reasons for dissatisfaction (lack of meaning, passion and use of talents) with strategic employee recognition whereby sincere, frequent recognition of effort is more than a "thanks" but specifically tells a person: "I really appreciate what you did on project X. Your work helped us achieve Y, which is going to make meeting our strategic objective Z much easier. Keep it up!"
Take this approach and you've just positively shown the employee how their work is meaningful and give them some indication of the path the company is following. Even if their talents aren't being fully utilized at the moment, at least they're being appreciated!