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There’s no denying that nowadays it’s not difficult to find a disengaged colleague among your co-workers. But how can you identify them, what are their personality traits and how can you deal with them? In this article we listed 11 warning signs, in which cases you should act immediately to turn a disengaged colleague into a happy colleague!


Definition: disengaged employee

First things first, we have to specify who is considered disengaged exactly. An actively disengaged employee is someone, who is physically present, but psychologically absent. This employee is not only unsatisfied with his/her work, but shares this unhappiness – indirectly and/or directly – with the other colleagues, as well.


The warning signs

#1 Complain

A disengaged employee always complains, regardless of the situation. Even can get mad about seemingly meaningless things: a slow computer, printer, uncomfortable chair etc. It’s just a mask: maybe they have personal problems, which are not related to their workplace, however it’s a pretty clear sign you should keep an eye on.

stop complaining

#2 They make excuses

If someone is constantly making excuses, then it can be very challenging for you to get the best results. This clearly signs the lack of motivation: a motivated employee would either take up any tasks as challenges, or would bear the consequences of an unsuccessful accomplishment. Excuses from time-to-time are natural, but a constant seeking of a way out is really not acceptable.


#3 The lack of enthusiasm

Easy-peasy: an overly demotivated person is a clear sign of disengagement. Especially if that particular colleague has just started at the company (months ago, for instance).


#4 Won’t help others

Being employed at a company means (in 99% of the cases) that a person has to be a team member and cooperate with the colleagues. Instead, a disengaged employee will rather mind his/her own business and not be eager to provide help others.


#5 Lies and/or gossips

A disengaged employee is similar to a person who has nothing to lose: lying is one of the most effective tool to get laid-off. Thus, a this person won’t bother if this behaviour will worsen the atmosphere at the company.

As for gossip, you have to understand, that it’s not necessarely a bad thing. People who gossip can mean a valuable channel of informal information to you, for instance. But excessive gossiping is similar to lying: it can undermine the company morale in the long run – misunderstandings, false accusations, offenses etc.

gossiping disengaged employee

#6 The Jack-of-all-trades, who doesn’t care

This is similar to not being a team worker. Disengaged colleagues tend to act like they know everything and will refuse every other aspect, ideas of others. It’s advised to examine this behaviour more closely: maybe that person is inherently like this, or maybe was offended earlier by getting refused during collecting ideas.


#7 Independency

Similar to not being a team member, a disengaged worker will rather play the lone wolf. Furthermore, s/he is a rarely seen person during team buildings, as well. Especially the latter one is a wake-up call: if someone skips team building events all the time (without any valid reasons) then you really should talk to that person immediately.


#8 Zero initiativeness

Reactivity < proactivity. A disengaged employee will rather be reactive and not think creatively. Compared to someone, who is fully motivated and who will gladly invest his/her time and energy in new ideas and projects.


#9 Irresponsibility

Missing deadlines, late for work, procrastination are something that most disengaged workers typically do. These signs clearly reflect the demotivation of an employee, so you’d better talk to this person as you take notice of this.


#10 Distracted

Disengaged employees can hardly focus and will easily visit the time-consuming websites, like 9GAG, Facebook, Instagram etc. Motivated, engaged employees always focus better and will not visit these sites on a regular basis.

do not disturb

#11 No growth

Engaged employees always strive to invest in themselves to improve their skills. On the other hand, disengaged employees don’t bother with such things, they only want to “survive” the day.



Everybody has minor, or bigger problems from time-to-time – maybe they’re just having a bad day/week, it will disappear soon. Maybe they have problems, which stem from their personal lives. In this case, if you’re having a stronger bond than a professional relation, then you can talk to and support this person more personally. If it’s not the case, bear this list in mind and keep an eye on that person. These traits will clearly sign you someone’s hidden disengagement.


Have you ever encountered problems with a disengaged employee? What were your experiences? How did you consolidate the situation? Let us know in the comments! 🙂

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