6 signs you are a disengaged employee

by Oct 31, 2015

Have you become a disengaged employee?

Do you remember how you felt when you started your current job? You got up, excited to go to work.  You had dreams. You were brimming with ideas. You looked for ways that processes or products could be improved and you were committed to driving change, even in your small sphere of influence.


disengaged employee


That is the type of energy need to progress your career, because it about believing in yourself, your team, your colleagues and your company’s vision and success.

Over time that engagement has faded. You are comfortable where you are, going with the flow, maybe not doing anything wrong or bad, but just treading water. You made choices, but so be it. They were necessary. You know you have settled and are under performing against your potential.

Or one step deeper into the disengagement mire

You are tangibly uncomfortable where you are, your temper is short and your patience limited. Your bosses, reports and colleagues get on your nerves and you bitch about them not too discreetly. You go home dissatisfied and resentful. But you do nothing to change your situation.

There is much research on the disengaged employee, with studies suggesting that numbers could be as high as 60-90% of the workforce falling into this category. Many women become stuck in the marzipan layer, staying in lower level jobs for any number of reasons, other than the job content. They may have made compromises for family reasons, to stay in a company, function or job which is below their skill set and ability. That comfort over times turns into complacency.

Stuck in that marzipan layer, they become, almost unknowingly  a disengaged employee

What are the tell-tale signs of the disengaged employee?

 #1 You’ve stopped  having and sharing ideas

You feel you can do your job, but you have stopped trying to excel. You are no longer excited or care about the latest idea and no longer make your own suggestions. You’ve stopped discussing work ideas with your colleagues or peers at lunch, or at an after office function. You keep those to an absolute minimum anyway. You may realise you should move and feel guilty for not doing so. You make excuses. Your kids need you, you have carer responsibilities, your partner travels frequently. You are comfortable. Ish.

#2 You’ve stopped disagreeing

Maybe your opinion has been discounted once to often. Perhaps you don’t care about the outcome. Now, even when you can see potential downsides to a proposal, you just do as you are asked regardless of the outcome. It’s not your problem after all. Your not paid to take that type of decision. Let your colleagues deal with the fallout.

 #3 You’ve stopped learning

At one time you were a continuous learner. You kept abreast of trends and developments in your sector. You listened to management podcasts in your car. You attended webinars and read trend updates. You subscribed to news alerts. Now your skills are on the wrong side of rusty and it’s starting to show. You have stopped asking because you can’t be bothered, but also for fear of looking foolish and out of date.

#4 You have stopped being proactive

You are no longer volunteering for stretch assignments or offering to mentor or support colleagues. You don’t speak up in meetings. Maybe you are sometimes late. You don’t push for a promotion or even a pay rise. You are probably not making your bonus. Perhaps you take high number of sick days. You get things done, but only just. You can’t remember the last time you received spontaneous feedback and recognition.

#5 You’ve stopped planning ahead

There was a time when you had goals and a plan. You knew how you wanted your life to be and you took steps to make sure you were on the way to achieving that dream. Now you meet most of your KPIs, but by the skin of your teeth.  Your performance appraisals meet expectation, but no more. In the areas that you don’t, there are extenuating circumstances which are “nothing to do with you.” Your manager no longer mentions your next steps.

#6 You’ve stopped bringing your work home

At one time your passion for your work would obvious to your friends and family. Now you rarely mention it, but if you do it’s nothing positive. Perhaps you complain about being tired and appear listless. You no longer have the same energy for your relationships. Your health might be suffering. Perhaps you are irritable. One woman described her situation as ” having her soul sucked out of her”

All of these tells are signs that you need to take charge of your career and move on within your company, or out altogether. You are a disengaged employee.

Check out the 3Plus coaching and mentoring programs for women. Contact us.

What tell-tale signs would you add?




Staff Writer: Career Contributor
3Plus welcomes any writers to join 3Plus as a Staff Writer. If you are an expert in Job Search, Career and Mentoring or just want to share your experiences, contact us! We would love to give you a voice!

Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services

Individual services

Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.

Corporate services

The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)

Upcoming events



📢New Programme available with 3Plus International

“If you have a brain you have a bias” and nowhere is this more apparent than in our hiring processes.

The ‘How to Mitigate Bias in the Recruitment Process’ programme is designed to convey the serious nature of bias in the recruitment process with a focus on gender bias and the way it impacts both businesses and organisations, but in a way that is thought-provoking and engaging.



Full programme details HERE

Dates for the Diary

April 14th - Career Mentoring Session for Ukraine 

April 23rd - Podcast with Ross Thornley on the Future of Work at 11:00

April 26th - How to create a bias conscious workplace - Corporate Workshop

May 10th - How to manage remote teams more inclusively - Corporate Workshop

May 12th - Strategies to achieve work-life balance and stress management - Corporate Workshop


Check out our exciting portfolio of offerings to support your business in upskilling and competence building for your teams, to address the unprecedented challenges that women face in this new totally digital world.


best job search


3Plus Online Learning Programs 





Download and listen free podcasts

Related articles

The invisible older woman

The invisible older woman

The invisible older woman reflects society’s disregard for women beyond their looks and highlights the gender gap in modern culture and a deepening of gendered ageism.

read more