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Underperforming Employees: Reasons and Signs To Look Out For

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Did you know that workplaces with underperforming employees have 37% higher absenteeism and 60% more errors while working? If you look at these numbers, then you can clearly see the bigger picture of how it can affect employee engagement and organizational workflow.

An organization’s long-term success will depend on the performance of its employees. They are the ones that make daily operations successful and steer the company towards the path of achieving the goals and objectives. However, if the employees do not give their best, it can negatively impact the bottom line. You might need to think about the work culture and how the work environment influences an employees’ performance.

This article will focus on the 5 problem areas that hamper an employee’s expectations.

Key Takeaways

  1. Understanding the Signs of Underperforming Employees
  2. Know the reasons and deal with employees who are underperforming.
  3. The impact of employees who are underperforming.
  4. How to Manage Underperforming Employees

5 Signs That Every Manager Needs To Know about Underperforming Employees

1. Lack of Motivation and Enthusiasm

Employees that underperform lack the motivation and enthusiasm to perform their duties. They lack the drive to bring the best in them and find the job quite monotonous. It is quite difficult to manage such employees as they cannot bring the necessary focus and stay disengaged most of the time.

Such employees have a significant drop in productivity that can significantly influence the rest of your teams’ performance.

2. Increased Absenteeism and Decreased Satisfaction Levels

When employees start to miss out on office hours it becomes evident that they are finding it hard to settle in the workplace. With the rise in absenteeism, a manager has to understand that the employees are struggling and finding it difficult to prosper in the work environment. The prime reasons include the lack of work-life balance, toxic work culture, no prompt goal setting, and so on.

When such occurrences increase with time, employees tend to underperform as they will be distracted. Thus, resulting in decreased job satisfaction and high levels of absenteeism within the organization.

Learn More: A Complete Guide To Boost Employee Job Satisfaction

3. Does not Meet the Expectations

If you are not assigned the right job that fits your skills and experience, it can be difficult to perform the duties proficiently. The same goes for your employees as well. When they are not clear about their goals and responsibilities, it becomes difficult for them to meet the expectations. Unrealistic goal settings can lead to a drop in performance issues and decrease overall efficiency. Thus, leading to the poor performance of employees and leaving the job eventually.

4. Productivity Drop and low engagement levels

Employee engagement plays a pivotal role in overall organizational success. For the employees to perform well, they must get recognition in a timely manner for their efforts and dedication. However, if they are not appreciated for their performance it negatively affects their productivity and the zeal to work diminishes significantly. Resulting in low engagement levels that can harm the bottom line of the organization.

5. Poor Quality of Work

Another prominent sign of an underperforming employee is that they produce work but it is not upto the desired level. They lack the standard, cannot meet the performance goals, and deliver inadequately. They do not open up about their problems and never put their inputs in team discussions. This can hamper the growth of an employee and their overall progress. Eventually hindering organizational bottom line and increasing disengagement.

Reasons and Dealing With Underperforming Employees

1. No Goal Setting

One of the prime reasons that employees underperform is due to unrealistic expectations and no proper goal setting. Without clear instructions and accurate information from managers, employees tend to lose their way from their goals and responsibilities. This makes the employees lose their motivation and the enthusiasm to bring the best in them. Thus, leading the employees to underperform even though they are talented and skilled.

The Solution-

The perfect way to bring the best in an employee is by providing them with realistic goals and responsibilities with the help of SMART goals. As a manager, you have to mentor the employees and guide them with the right approach. The more engaged they become in their work, the better they perform in the long term. Thus, improving the organization’s bottom line.

2. Lack of Recognition

71% of highly engaged organizations recognize employees for a job well done. It is a known fact that employees perform better when recognized and rewarded for their efforts and hard work. However, when managers don’t do that, there is a high risk that the employees will have a significant drop in performance and lack the motivation to complete their job. Thus, resulting in employees underperforming and decreasing their overall productivity.

The Solution-

To keep the workforce motivated and elevate their performance levels, you must recognize them timely. No matter where they are working from, acknowledging their dedication and commitment is a good trait of a manager. Encourage peer-to-peer recognition as well so that the team cohesiveness increases. And to help you with that, Vantage Rewards provides you with a perfect one-stop online platform where you can reward, recognize and appreciate your employees to elevate their morale.

Vantage Rewards- Your One-Stop Solution To Employee Recognition

3. No room for growth and improvement

In this ever-growing and fast-paced corporate world, the growth of employees is perennial. They need to adapt quickly and blend in well with the changes to stay competitive. And to do that, they need to upskill and improve themselves continuously. But if they lack the opportunities to develop themselves, it becomes frustrating and at the same time, the job becomes monotonous. This leads the employees to lose interest in their work and they tend to have very low performance.

The Solution-

Providing the perfect training and development program for the employees will help them increase their skills and abilities. Encourage continuous learning so that they can relearn the basics and get accustomed to the changes. The more they learn, the better they will be able to develop themselves and blend in well with the different advancements. Also, practice active listening and heed to what the employees have to say and understand their needs to provide them with the perfect environment to work.

4. Workplace Stress and Burnout

Work-related stress and increasing burnout levels have been a rising concern for organizations. It not only degrades employee morale but also hampers productivity in the long term. A work environment that puts immense pressure on the employees to churn out results might always end up with underperforming employees. No matter how talented the employees are, if they are not given the breathing space, they will lose interest in working.

The Solution-

The best answer to employee burnout will be to delegate tasks while maintaining a robust schedule. Break the work and assign it to the employees who are the right fit. It is crucial to keep in mind that assigning the right role to the right person will significantly decrease burnout chances. This is because they will be proficient in their work and will be able to fulfill the responsibilities with utmost efficiency.

Also, try not to pressurize the employees to complete the task before the deadline, provide them the time and flexibility they need. Give them the liberty to enjoy their personal life which can significantly reduce burnout in the long term.

Impact of Underperforming Employees

Having a set of underperforming employees can be challenging and can bring a set of negative impacts. But what could they be? Let us have a look.

  1. The overall productivity and efficiency of the workforce takes a hit. The main reason behind is that the coworkers have to spend extra time and compensate for underperforming employees. Such employees do not complete their responsibilities and focus on personal work. In the long run this slows down operations, impacting everyone’s work.

  2. Another thing that comes under risk is the customer satisfaction. Whether it's direct customer service or work that indirectly supports the client experience, it is all interlinked. Poor response times or inability to solve queries are all part of it. This indicates lack of interest and bad performances that disappoint and frustrate customers.

  3. The company profits and goals also suffer when employees start to underperform. Business bottom line, sales target, cost management- they are all negatively affected. Organizations struggle to meet their goals as employees drop productivity and are unable to complete projects. Ultimately, hindering the projected achievable objectives.

  4. Underperforming employees affect the team dynamics and employees’ morale deteriorates. This mainly happens due to not pulling equal weight of work. If one colleague underperforms then the other one has to take the load. This lead to animosity and relationships fray increasing conflicts. In the long run the motivation levels plummet and distractions increase in the workplace.

  5. When underperforming employees experience burn out and emotional strain, they leave the organization. This also increases turnover which can severly impact the balance of the workforce. Additionally, low performers are often subjected to firing from the job which also plays a role in turnover.

How to Manage Underperforming Employees

Managing underperforming employees is not an easy task. It requires patience, the right strategies, and a calm approach. Here is a list of ways through which you can manage them.

  1. Have an open and honest chat with the employees who are underperforming. Don't tackle things in an email or quick hallway conversation - sit down together in person. Set the tone by asking how they feel about their work situation, listening without judgment, and showing care for their perspective. Build the necessary trust and get to the heart of any issues holding them back. Once you understand the problem, you will be able to tackle them with ease and with the right solution.

  2. Offer a friendly assistance to employees who are underperforming. Express your desire to help them succeed and remove any blockers. Suggest a variety of training programs to build skills gaps to build confidence. Explore whether different tools or tech would help productivity. Furthermore, brainstorm tweaks to their daily structure that play to strengths. With the right support, most people genuinely do want to contribute good work.

  3. Set kind but clear expectations that are achievable and practical. Collaboratively, discuss precise areas where quality or output is unsatisfactory. This will help them understand their weaknesses. Furthermore, lay out measurable goals for getting performance back on track and a reasonable timeline for showing improvement. Make space to answer questions and gain commitment rather than lecturing rules. It will give them the necessary voice and showcase that the organization values them.

  4. Check in regularly with your employees in terms of their development early on. Follow up consistently in the first weeks after setting up the plans to improve them. Monitor progress without micromanaging - ask how it's going, offer resources, and provide positive reinforcement for small wins. This accountability and care is crucial to build momentum. In the long run this helps them to become more proficient and productive.

  5. Involve the supervisors when needed to provide the necessary advice. If some areas of underperformance persist despite work agreements, loop in a direct manager for added guidance. A higher level vision for the employee's talents and leadership on structuring consequences gives weight. Moreover, supervision should align to support plans already in motion. Such support will give the employees confidence and the required push to do well.

  6. Know when to fold based on the situation. Despite best efforts, sometimes underperformance indicates a role mismatch rather than a personal failure. If agreements consistently fall short after a reasonable period and support, have compassionate talks. The talk can be about position changes or even offboarding processes. The priority becomes setting up their gifts and the team's workflow for mutual success, even if paths diverge.

Summing It Up!

Dealing with underperforming employees will need a proper action plan that will help the managers. Improving performance and regularly monitoring the employees who are not engaged should be the prime focus. It will require a proper talent management system and help them elevate their morale and engagement levels.

Mrinmoy Rabha is a content writer and digital marketer at Vantage Circle. He is an avid follower of football and passionate about singing. For any related queries, contact editor@vantagecircle.com

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