Ways You May Be Alienating Your Employees & How To Stop

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

A manager’s role is to guide and inspire employees to achieve their full potential. However, as projects build up, life becomes hectic, and the day-to-day grind takes precedence, maintaining and strengthening one’s leadership qualities can sometimes fall by the wayside. Regardless of how well-meaning the management is, alienation can occur without the boss’s knowledge.

To assist, this article has covered all you need to know about alienation, including when it occurs in the workplace and how to successfully prevent it.

What is Alienation in the Workplace?

Workplace alienation happens when individuals feel separated from their jobs, professional goals, or teammates. A variety of variables contribute to workplace alienation, but it is frequently the result of inadequate corporate policies or an organisational structure that causes people to feel unappreciated or separated.

While employees can play an active role in overcoming feelings of alienation at work, employers must develop a workplace atmosphere that encourages individualism, professional advancement, personal fulfilment, and cultural alignment for all team members.

Why Does Alienation Happen?

Work alienation can occur for a variety of reasons. Workers may not feel empowered to speak up since their supervisors do not communicate that they welcome employee feedback. Employees may be afraid to speak up or believe it is unacceptable to offer an honest opinion if their supervisor does not request it.

Work alienation may also arise if supervisors do not pay adequate attention to employees. A performance review once a year is insufficient to adequately analyse and track employee performance. Managers can address this by maintaining ongoing communication with employees and arranging regular one-on-one meetings.

If a person works remotely while the rest of the team is at the office, they may experience job alienation and a sense of being left out. You can reduce work alienation by organising team-building activities and providing remote employees with the resources they need to stay in touch with the team.

Employers should treat their employees as individuals, not merely as employees. Work alienation is likely if they do not. Employees, for example, may feel alienated if they are penalised for taking time off. Employers who have a paid time off (PTO) policy, provide employees with holidays and sick days, and are flexible when dealing with situations will make employees feel more valued and seen.

If your staff isn’t already remote, you may build up a work-from-home system so that employees can stay at home for the day without repercussions.

What are the Types of Alienation?

Alienation manifests itself in a variety of ways, all of which are detrimental to an employee’s morale and the entire company culture.

#1. Manufacturing

Employees may feel disconnected from production if they are not involved in the complete manufacturing process. This can happen if a person solely works on a specific sort of task on a regular basis and has no relationship to the rest of the production process, such as decision-making duties or project completion. Professionals must be allowed to contribute their perspectives in developing a vision for a project and designing its workflow in order to feel valued and completely engaged.

#2. Individual

Most employees value workplace conditions in which they may express themselves and be creative in their approach to their work. Individual alienation may occur when employees are unable to offer their ideas, discuss their thoughts, or be themselves at work. Employees may feel alienated from their sense of self when executing their roles as a result of this type of alienation.

#3. As a group

Employees may feel alienated from their coworkers as a result of collective alienation. This frequently occurs when employees’ responsibilities focus on a specialised, repetitive piece of a wider manufacturing process, preventing them from connecting interpersonally. When this form of alienation happens, employees may feel that they aren’t getting enough credit for the role they play and that their job keeps them from having meaningful interactions with others.

This occurs when an employee is given simply a set of instructions to complete and is unaware of the overall procedure. The employee is never involved in the overall vision or strategy, and they are led to believe that people who generate the vision are a select few.

How Companies Alienate Employees

Companies alienate employees in a variety of ways, sometimes without even realising it. That is why it is critical to pay attention to the signals your employees give you.

Here are some examples of how you may be alienating your staff and how to fix it:

#1. Demonstrating Disrespect

According to my decades of coaching and training global leaders, the most common source of alienation is disrespect. Employees are viewed as things rather than persons. Disrespect manifests itself through aggressive body language, disgust, and condemnation. Managers who embrace a command and control approach weaken an employee’s confidence, limit communication, and crush motivation.

#2. Inconsistent Communication

Alienation is almost often the result of a breakdown in communication. Communication is essential, whether it’s a weekly status call, a few texts, or simply asking how they’re doing during lunch. If you don’t cultivate relationships with your staff, they will eventually drift away. This is nearly often resolved by consistently increasing your communication.

#3. Attempting to Retain Constant Control

Many individuals I know have left their jobs because their managers micromanaged them. These supervisors did not allow my friends to develop their creative potential, which was viewed as a lack of trust in my friends and/or a lack of confidence in their abilities. How can you avoid it? Implementing a more intelligent hiring process and creating a workplace culture based on courteous, straightforward communication.

#4. Favourite Games

It’s simple to unintentionally alienate employees by repeatedly favouring one person over the others. When allocating work, include numerous team members. Even continuously appreciating the same person while ignoring the others is enough to communicate that team members are unappreciated. Remember that productivity requires everyone to contribute, and favouritism is harmful.

#5. Taking Employees For Granted

Alienation can result from taking employees for granted, not truly valuing them or their efforts, failing to acknowledge and recognise their work, or a lack of visible recognition, particularly personal and public affirmation. Examine yourself in the mirror. Engage others to assist you in identifying (and removing) blind spots. Tough love used as a truth scalpel can breathe new life into a leader’s entire career. Take a chance.

#6. Failing To Provide Employees With A Voice

Managers frequently make the error of not providing legitimate opportunity for employees to express themselves and their experiences. Employees may feel alone, alienated, and unappreciated as a result of this. Managers can avoid this by instituting practises such as open feedback sessions and/or anonymous feedback questionnaires, which can foster a culture in which feedback is encouraged and employees feel participated and valued.

#7. Failure to Follow Up

Too often, employees are thrust into positions with little guidance and much less follow-up—until something goes wrong. While managers are busy, they must recognise that individual learning styles, direction, engagement, and follow-up are critical to employee success. It is vital to meet with new staff once a week to assess their work, allow them to ask questions, and provide direction.

#8. Interfering

Interrupting someone is a quick method to tell them that you don’t care what they’re saying. It also implies that you were listening to respond rather than genuinely understanding the speaker. That should be avoided at all costs. Practise your listening skills. Nobody ever learned the most important management skill.

#9. Not Involving Employees In Decisions

Employees should be informed about the decision-making process in order to engage them rather than alienate them. When deciding how to use employee ideas, a manager has three options: 1) Listen to all opinions and make the ultimate decision on your own. 2) Have everyone hear the suggestions, then vote on which ones to eliminate, with the manager making the final decision. 3) All votes are equally weighted, and the best idea “wins.” Communicate the choice you intend to employ.

#10. Lying About The Job

Most managers alienate employees by lying to them during the interview about the work and the culture. The new hire then arrives, realises the reality, and tunes out their employer. Hiring managers all put on “happy smile button faces” and remind prospective employees about the fantastic opportunity with a motivated team of professionals. Tell them the truth about your culture instead. Surprises are rarely pleasant.

Tips to Overcome Feeling Alienated at Work

While it is critical for organisations to practise accountability and take action to assist their people feel less alienated at work, there are many steps you can take on your own to feel more connected. Here are a few ideas to explore while you attempt to overcome feelings of separation and loneliness at work:

  • Locate allies. If you’re feeling isolated from others due to the nature of your job or the structure of your organisation, try to create alliances with coworkers who can help you when you face work-related issues.
  • Make your worth known. If your employer does not appear to value your contributions, demonstrate your worth by developing your talents, taking initiative, and immersing yourself in your work.
  • Collaborate with intention. Even if your employer does not provide such possibilities, you can make connections with people by intentionally collaborating with them.
  • Investigate your choices. If you’re feeling disconnected from your workplace culture owing to a misalignment of values, try changing careers and finding a new one that provides you with a stronger sense of connection.

Employees who are alienated from their coworkers and the organisation as a whole may sense a lack of professional fulfilment. They may be dissatisfied with their jobs in general, encounter considerable hurdles to productivity, disengage from organisational goals, and seek professional progression elsewhere.

What Does Alienation Do to an Employee?

Employees who are alienated from their superiors and coworkers feel like objects, or nameless cogs in the system. Employees that are alienated feel as if they are not needed in their employment. As a result, they have little loyalty to the organisation and are eager to find new employment.

What is an Example of Alienation in Business?

There are numerous instances of occupational alienation. For example, if you were passed up for a promotion that you deserved, or if your ideas and contributions were consistently ignored by your coworkers, you may have felt alienated.

Why is Alienation in the Workplace Bad?

Certain managerial practises, on the other hand, can unintentionally alienate employees, resulting in demotivation, decreased job satisfaction, and increased turnover rates. The first step in creating a healthy and inclusive work environment is to understand the most typical ways in which managers alienate their employees.

What are the 5 Elements of Alienation?

There are five different interpretations of alienation: powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, isolation, and self-estrangement.

What are the 4 Types of Alienation?

These, as well as the ideas that emerge from collective experiences, are then linked to Marx’s concept of alienation. Marx articulated four dimensions of alienation: estrangement from (1) the result of labour, (2) the process of labour, (3) others, and (4) oneself.

Why Do Workers Become Alienated?

The worker is alienated from his or her product precisely because he or she no longer owns it; it now belongs to the capitalist, who has purchased the proletariat’s labour power in exchange for exclusive ownership of the proletariat’s products and all profit derived from their sale.


A manager’s role is to guide and inspire employees to achieve their full potential. However, as projects build up, life becomes hectic, and the day-to-day grind takes precedence, maintaining and strengthening one’s leadership qualities can sometimes fall by the wayside. This article, I believe, has covered everything you need to know about estrangement.


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