When You’re the Disengaged Employee



I recently posted a blog about what happens when a highly engaged employee becomes disengaged, which led to the question: ‘what if I’m the disengaged employee? How do I decide whether to re-engage or leave the organization?’ I’ve had times that I’ve had to learn how to re-engage and find my passion for my job, and other times it’s been the signal to look for a new opportunity. Let me be clear – losing your passion for the job is not the same as losing your passion for the field. You can be a passionate HR professional and still tap out in your current position for a variety of reasons.

Ask yourself: is this me or my company? Does the company experience high turnover? Does senior leadership have unrealistic expectations? Is there a lack of direction as to where the organization is going? If so, and you’ve given it your all to influence leadership and be a change agent, maybe the problem is bigger and more systemic than you can fix, and it’s time to move on.

Maybe the company is great, but your department head is unclear on her objectives or constantly changing expectations. If you’ve tried to address this directly and nothing changes, it might be time to look for a new opportunity.

Is the job what you signed up for? Maybe you expected growth potential that’s not there. Maybe you were told administering benefits would be a small piece of your role, but it turns out that’s the bulk of it. Whatever the case, if you thought you were taking a particular position and it didn’t live up to the promise, consider – would you have accepted the offer if you knew then what you know now? If not, maybe it’s time to move on.

Sometimes, the job is exactly what we thought, but the organization goes through significant change. This can be an opportunity to learn and grow, or a time of chaos with no end in sight. Only you can determine what the changes mean for you.

Sometimes it’s not the company, it’s us. Maybe you had an initiative you really believed in, but senior management shot it down. You got discouraged and started to disengage. You’ve seen it in your employees; don’t think you’re immune. If an employee came to you with this situation, how would you respond? If there is an element to their current situation that has become untenable, and that specific element is integral to their position and the company, you’d tell them. If it means they leave, then they get to find a better fit, and the organization gets to find a better fit to replace them. It’s painful in the moment, but in the end, everyone wins.

So you’re disengaged. Can the things that bother you be changed? If so, change them. If not, are they deal breakers? If so, start looking. If not, put them to the side and focus on what’s working. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. But if you’re struggling to decide, think about how you would coach an employee who came to you with the same situation. That might be your answer.

Full version originally posted on HR Underground blog.





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