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What To Do If You Feel Disengaged At Work

01st November 2016

We perform our best when we are actively engaged in what we do. But research suggests that the majority of employees are not engaged at work, which impacts our performance and ultimately, our success.



Employee disengagement is one of the most pervasive problems facing businesses today. A 2012 study by Gallup found that only 30% of workers in the US are actively engaged, while 52% were not engaged, and a further 18% were actively disengaged. While it may be more common than you thought, there are no upsides to disengagement, but there are a few ways you can address it head on.

Set Your Goals

If you are feeling disengaged at work, you need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. One of the most common reasons employees become disengaged is that they don’t have a greater goal to work towards. By setting yourself long-term career goals, you will not only have more purpose and direction, you will also have a personal measure of your career success, which will drive you to work harder.

Even setting yourself short-term goals for your projects can help you become more engaged. A 2012 study entitled Goals (th)at Work: Goals, Monetary Incentives, and Workers’ Performance found that workers with goals performed 15% better than those without, and there are plenty of similar studies to support this finding. Increased productivity often means increased engagement, which leads to better results, and a better working experience overall.

Work With Your Manager

According to Custom Insight, 5 of the top 10 drivers of employee disengagement relate to management. Among the most common complaints were lack of purpose, cooperation, and feedback, all of which are fundamental to achieving success for both the business and your career.

One of the most common mistakes we see people make in their careers is not working closely with their managers. This is problematic because the views that an employer & employee can have for the same role can diverge, especially as time goes on. By working closely with your management, you can align your career goals with their business needs, and build a role that is more fulfilling and in line with both your needs and theirs, helping you become both more engaged and more successful.

Figure Out Why

We could quote all the research in the world, but we will never be able to tell you exactly why you are disengaged. Your feelings of disengagement could be associated with bad management, lack of career goals, or simply a loss of interest in the work you do. Whatever the reason, if you really want to become more engaged at work, you need to figure out why you were disengaged in the first place. Once you have done that, you can begin to properly address the issue.

While disengagement may not be a sudden or immediate problem, it is not something that will go away with time, and ignoring it will only hurt your career. Some of the steps you can take to address disengagement have been outlined above, but sometimes you’re trying to force a square peg into a round hole. If you have exhausted all other options, it may be time to start looking for a role that engages you naturally. 

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About the Author

Simon Griffin

Marketing Executive

Marketing Dept.

I have worked as a writer since I began attending university, and have been working in marketing ever since I graduated. I aim to provide well-researched, fact based, original work that people will find useful and interesting. I have written hundreds of articles as both a freelancer and a marketing executive, and look forward to writing for Cpl. 

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