What is employee alienation?

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Employee alienation describes a state of being in which employees are demotivated and apathetic toward their work. They feel alienated or separated from their employer and have no passion for the work that they are required to do.

This often occurs as a result of actions taken by the employer, such as failure to recognize successes, constant criticism, and/or a lack of empathy. For example, if an employee takes some time off because she is sick and is reprimanded for this upon her return, this is likely to create a feeling of alienation.

Similarly, consider this case: someone has been working hard on three projects and making great progress, but he made a mistake on a fourth project. If management failed to acknowledge his successes on the first three projects but chose to discipline the employee for his mistake, this will cause alienation.

In the long term, employee alienation can be extremely damaging to a company, as it will lead to high staff turnover, which in turn leads to the loss of valuable knowledge. It also means that companies must bear the cost of recruiting and training new staff members, only to repeat the cycle in short order, unless steps are taken to cease the alienation of employees.

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Employees can be said to be alienated when their morale is very low.  In such a situation, they do not feel as if they are an important part of the company.  They feel, in other words, alienated from the company.

Employee alienation can be caused by a number of factors.  Managers can alienate their employees when they do not talk to them in positive ways.  When your boss only talks to you to be demanding or critical, you will not feel like a valued part of the firm.  Even the structure of the firm can cause alienation.  A very hierarchical firm that does not allow people in the lower echelons to have any serious input into company affairs can be alienating.  It can cause employees to feel as though they are not important.

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