6 Employee Types and How to Address Them - American Society of Employers - Heather Nezich

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6 Employee Types and How to Address Them

Last week we looked at 10 Leadership Styles and How to Work with Them. This week we are looking at six employee types and recommendations on how employers should address each type.


  1. The Quitters: On the Path to New Horizons – In a typical organization, it is estimated that about 10% of the workforce belongs to this group. The "quitters" in the workforce aren't necessarily the lowest performers, but they often represent some of the least satisfied and committed employees. Over time, their dissatisfaction can begin to impact their performance, eventually leading them to seek opportunities elsewhere.

One significant challenge for employers is when their high-performing or specialized talent starts to feel undervalued. While some may inevitably leave, employers should make every effort to re-engage these valuable individuals who have become disenchanted and now fall into the "quitter" category.

A small portion of this group might depart due to enticing offers from other companies. These are typically top performers who are tempted not because anything is wrong, but because they believe they can achieve more elsewhere. Some can be convinced to stay and re-engage, bringing exceptional value to both the organization and their colleagues.

How to address them:

  • Identify high-potential and high-performing employees who may be exploring other opportunities. While counteroffers may prevent some departures, it's preferable to address issues proactively.
  • Effective people leaders who maintain a strong connection with their teams can gauge morale, ensuring employees feel valued and that compensation and benefits align with market standards. They can also ensure that career paths are well-defined, offering meaningful opportunities for role changes and expanded responsibilities.


  1. The Disruptors: Actively Disengaged – In a typical organization, it is estimated that around 11% of the workforce falls into this category. The "disruptors" are the second-largest group with low satisfaction and commitment levels, just behind the "quitters." Their impact isn't solely due to their behavior but also how the organization deals with them, alongside how their peers perceive them.

These employees often demonstrate a lower level of performance either through "quiet quitting" or openly expressing negative feelings about their work. They are not the positive change agents in an organization; instead, they can drain motivation from their colleagues, create additional workloads, and undermine morale.

According to equity theory, when high-performing employees observe their actively disengaged peers receiving similar rewards for significantly less effort, motivation dwindles. However, when colleagues hold each other accountable, research suggests that productivity can increase.

How to address them:

  • Recognize that disengaged employees are not inherently toxic but are influenced by their work environment. Address those already in this category and prevent high performers from joining them.
  • Employees in this group may feel their needs aren't met, leading to counterproductive behavior. Career development opportunities, a sense of purpose at work, and fair compensation can help retain and re-engage them. Organizations should ensure that compensation packages are competitive.
  • If these efforts prove ineffective, offering a change of roles, teams, or collaborators can provide a fresh start. Coaching, mentorship, or performance improvement plans may also help.
  • Protect high performers from feelings of inequity by recognizing and rewarding their contributions, offering individualized praise, connecting their work to a higher purpose, and providing advancement opportunities.


  1. The Minimalists: Doing the Bare Minimum – In a typical organization, approximately 32% of employees belong to this group. "Minimalists" employees exhibit below-average commitment and performance levels. They are considered to be mildly disengaged. They aren't satisfied, but they aren't actively disruptive either. They meet the basic job requirements but lack proactivity, affecting their well-being and self-reported performance negatively. These employees prioritize personal lives over company sacrifices.

This group's lower productivity, combined with the financial costs of the previous two categories, can be detrimental to a company. However, many of them can be re-energized to significantly improve their engagement and commitment, leading to enhanced performance.

How to address them:

  • Similar to addressing disruptors, employers can focus on improving factors like Employee Value Proposition (EVP), offering flexibility in how and when work is done, and providing autonomy. Be aware that micromanagement may further disengage them.
  • Employees in this category may regain enthusiasm for their roles if offered opportunities for development, competitive compensation, and more autonomy. These efforts can lead to financial benefits for the company while boosting morale among this group.
  • Compensation alone may only serve as a temporary motivator, so it's important to address their broader needs and sense of purpose at work.


  1. The Double Dippers: A Growing Trend – Around 5% of employees in a typical organization are part of this group. "Double-dippers" or "polyworkers" are full-time salaried employees juggling two or more jobs, often without their employers' knowledge. This phenomenon is especially prevalent among remote workers. Surprisingly, these employees aren't necessarily unproductive; they can be split into those who are engaged and those who are disengaged, depending on their reasons for multitasking.

How to address them:

  • Mandating a return to the office is the least likely viable solution for this group, given their diverse motivations and work contexts.
  • Leaders should focus on dissatisfied double-dippers, addressing their compensation and career development needs.
  • Career paths and role responsibilities should be clearly defined to avoid a sense of stagnation.


  1. The Reliable and Committed: Going the Extra Mile – Around 38% of employees in a typical organization belong to this group. These individuals are the backbone of an organization, displaying strong commitment and satisfaction. They consistently perform their duties and willingly contribute beyond their formal roles. They prioritize teamwork, idea-sharing, and organizational promotion.

How to address them:

  • These employees are motivated by meaningful work, flexibility, and supportive coworker relationships. Compensation alone won't motivate them, but perceived unfairness might demotivate them.
  • Employers should recognize and reward these dedicated employees. If not recognized, these employees could start to feel taken advantage of.

  1. The Thriving Stars: Creating Value and Inspiring Others Around 4% of employees in a typical organization fall into this category. “Thriving stars” are exceptional performers who bring disproportionate value to the company. They achieve high levels of well-being and performance through meaningful work, adaptability, resilience, and a strong sense of purpose. Their positive influence enhances team performance and productivity.

How to address them:

  • Protect these high-value contributors from burnout by managing their workload and ensuring meaningful work.
  • Provide an environment that allows these employees to balance well-being and performance.
  • This group thrives in hybrid or remote working environments.


Understanding and nurturing various employee types within an organization can lead to improved performance and a more engaged workforce. Organizations and their leaders should tailor strategies to address the specific needs and motivations of each group while creating an inclusive and flexible work environment.


Source: McKinsey.com


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