5 Telltale Signs of a Disengaged Employee

March 15, 2016 Abby


The disengaged employee - You can spot them a mile away. Their "can't do" attitude and general unpleasantness sours nearly every cubicle or meeting room they walk into. According to Glassdoor, seventy-percent of the American workforce is comprised of individuals who are “checked out” of their work responsibilities and sleepwalking through their career.

What’s the cost of having so many Disengaged Dans and Donnas? Gallup found that these individuals cost the U.S. anywhere between $450 billion and $550 billion every year. Reversing this alarming trend of employees who just simply don’t give a rat’s rear begins with early detection.  Here are a few ways you can tell when an employee is not giving their best:


They Work Alone: While others are busy as bees collaborating and bringing fresh ideas to the table, the disengaged employee acts as a lone ranger. Working autonomously can be great when trying to churn out work to get a job done, but out-of-the-box thinking can’t occur in a vacuum.  When a team member consistently avoids group projects, rarely contributes to brainstorm sessions, and is hardly ever seen outside their cubicle aside from bathroom breaks, you may have a detached employee on your hands.


They Lack Enthusiasm: When presented with a new project, opportunity or pretty much anything short of being able to head out a half hour early, Disengaged Dan’s mojo just screams a resounding “meh.” Passion plays an important role in any workplace and it becomes painfully obvious when an employee’s supply of “rah rah” is on ‘Empty’. A deficit of passion doesn’t necessarily mean there will be an immediate decline in the quality of on-going work, but overtime, it will cripple the production of new ideas and ventures.


They Do the Bare Minimum: When assigning workloads, you never see this person stepping up to the plate to own new projects or help out a colleague who is up to their eyeballs in work. The phrase “That’s not my job,” is always on tip of their tongue, ready to deny any request that pushes the boundaries of their comfort zone.  Disengaged Dan isn’t even close to being a team player and that is no bueno.



They are Easily Distracted: Likely one of the most common symptoms of a detached worker, is their dwindling attention span. They’re the office YouTube expert, online shopping connoisseur, and paper-plane engineer.  Actively disengaged employees are not only filling their days with viral videos and personal emails, but they’re also dragging the productivity of others through the mud.


They Whisper and Gossip: Because Disengaged Dan doesn’t fill his days with innovation, it’s not surprising that he feels the need to kill time by discussing the secrets and rumors of the office with anyone who will listen.  This can do some serious damage to the team dynamic and overall morale.



Is there a disconnected employee in your midst? Employee engagement matters. Making sure people feel a sense of purpose in their career and a sense of belonging in your organization is a tricky balance to strike, but a little positive recognition can help inspire teams and refresh disengaged individuals.

Download the Free Employee Engagement Survey

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