Since you spend a good portion of your life working, it can negatively impact your mental and physical health if you’re not engaged at work. According to Gallup, employee engagement is defined as being involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to work and a workplace. A 2019 survey found most employees in the United States (66%) are not engaged at work. Nearly 17% are “actively disengaged,” which means they’re employees with miserable work experiences.
For businesses, low employee engagement negatively impacts profitability, customer engagement, productivity, retention and accident rate. For employees, a lack of engagement leads to a higher risk of accidents, higher illness incidence and absenteeism, and negative effects on mood, stress levels and personal life.
While the majority of Americans are not engaged at work, low engagement does not have to be the norm. Check out these 10 signs you’re not engaged at work to determine if it’s time to make a change.
1. You Do the Bare Minimum That’s Required
When you don’t go above and beyond your job expectations, you may be disengaged. That includes not striving to work ahead of deadlines, not contributing to non-required meetings or activities, and not being willing to innovate or be a self-starter. A lack of initiative is a sign of disengagement.
2. You Take Breaks as Frequently as Possible
If you find yourself wandering to the kitchen or bathroom when you really don’t need to use them, you may be disengaged. Taking extra-long lunches or coffee breaks to escape work is another sign. If you find yourself picking up an unhealthy habit, like smoking or eating break room snacks when you didn’t before, perhaps the cause is your work.
3. You Exhibit Apathy or Anger
Both types of reactions to coworkers and work assignments can indicate a lack of engagement. If you find your stress levels rising because you have to work on certain tasks or with certain people, you may be pulling away from your connection to the job. When work situations no longer elicit any type of strong reaction from you, it may be a sign you’re checked out.
4. You’ve Called in Sick Because You Need a Break from Work
If you’re using sick days because you dread going to the office, you’re likely disengaged. Asking for time off work for nonexistent activities, like leaving early to pick up a child who doesn’t need to be, is another sign of disengagement.
5. You Don’t Contribute in Groups
Many employees are introverted, and it’s totally normal that not everyone will want to be the star of every brainstorming meeting. But if you find that your contributions to group discussions have been lacking consistently over time, a lack of engagement may be the cause that’s affecting your willingness to contribute.
6. Your Focus at Work Is on Non-Work-Related Things
If you’re spending the hours you should be working texting on your phone, scanning social media, reading online news or daydreaming, you’re not engaged. Be mindful of behaviors like thinking about something else while you’re in a meeting, or having your mind constantly wander so that it’s hard to complete assignments on time. That may mean disengagement.
7. You’re Short in Communications
If you find that you dread interoffice communications, you may be disengaged. Disengaged employees may want to withdraw, speak only when spoken to and avoid interactions at all costs. If you find the interactions you’re having at work to be unmeaningful, it could signal a lack of engagement.
8. The Quality of Your Work Is Declining
When the current quality of your work is less than it was at your old job or when you first started a job, it could be because of disengagement. A lack of engagement can lead to rushed work, not checking for errors and simply not caring enough about quality to put in full effort.
9. You Avoid Voluntary Activities
From company social events to team-building or volunteering committees, if you avoid participating in anything that is not work-related, you likely don’t care about the company you work for. Voluntary activities and events don’t demand participation, but engaged employees will be more likely to participate in some of them.
10. You Don’t Care About Job Growth
If you find that at annual meetings (or monthly or weekly meetings) with your manager where you’re discussing job progress and career goals that you have no desire to map out a plan for growth, you might be disengaged. Engaged employees want to contribute to their companies in meaningful ways, learn new skills and knowledge, and advance their careers. If you just don’t care, it might be an engagement issue.
What Should You Do If You’re Not Engaged at Work?
When you relate to any of the above signs, you can take some steps to become more engaged.
One is to have an honest conversation with your manager about how you’re feeling. Maybe you started work at your current company in your role engaged, and something has changed to where you’re not anymore. See if there are changes that can be made to turn things around.
You could be feeling disengaged because you no longer enjoy the industry you’re in or the type of work you do. In that case, consulting with a career coach could help uncover your true work passions and the type of career you may be better suited for at this point in your life.
If you know you enjoy your profession, but the company culture, business model or another aspect to your job is not going to change any time soon, it might be time to look for a job at a different company. Be sure to brush up your resume, optimize your LinkedIn profile and reconnect with your professional network so that you’re ready to start a job search confidently.
Staying at a job you hate or that you’ve grown apathetic toward is not good for your career, your health or your relationships. If you realize you are no longer engaged at your job, or that you’re actively disengaged, you can take steps to make a career change that helps you lead a more fulfilling life.