Most new hires in an organization work very hard to prove themselves to their supervisors and to management. Unfortunately, not all top performers continue to perform once they are passed up for promotions or they become uninterested in their position.

These employees are generally referred to as disengaged employees because they lack motivation and show up to work simply to receive a paycheck. In a flourishing economy where there are plenty of jobs, a disengaged employee will typically start applying for a fulfilling job, but in a bad economy they will stay with their current employer much longer.

Disengaged employees do not only affect productivity, they also affect office morale by spreading their negative attitude throughout the office.

Here are some habits you should look for to identify the employees who have already checked out—even when they are still physically present.

1. The Employee Arrives Late, Takes Long Breaks, and Leaves Early

If your employee is often late, or absenteeism is becoming a problem, there’s a good chance they are disengaged. They are not making their job a priority—this could be because of personal issues or because of issues in the office.

If the problem is with a single employee, have a face-to-face meeting to confront the problem head-on. If the problem is within a department, it is best to conduct a survey to find out whether leadership or processes are the issue.

2. The Employee is Evasive

If you hold office meetings and your employee always has an excuse for not attending these meetings, the employee may be disengaged. Engaged employees want to hear about new procedures, secure new clients, and get updated regularly. When an employee is evasive, they may pretend to be busy when they are actually spending their time figuring out ways to be evasive.

3. The Employee Has an Unjustified Hatred for Management

A disengaged employee may spread their hate for management in a number of ways. Even nice gestures from management can be seen as a reason to complain. This unjustified hatred is a clear red flag for disengagement.

The employee is so unhappy and disinterested in their job that they are trying to justify their negative feelings and spread negativity to their colleagues. The best step to take when this happens is to discuss why the employee is unhappy with management. If issues with a manager need to be addressed, it may show the employee you are listening.

4. Isolation and Appearance

Most engaged employees prefer to look their best every day. If an employee has been very social and personable in the past, and is now becoming isolated they may be disengaged. These uncharacteristic habits should be addressed immediately.


Disengaged employees do not only affect office morale, they can affect production and profits. Because of this you should take time to identify these employees and develop new policies to ensure that all of your employees stay motivated and interested in their jobs. If employees cannot snap out of it, you may need to consider written warnings and maybe even termination so that you can free up space in the organization for employees who want to be there.

Be observant, change your procedures, and do not let your workforce plague itself from within the organization!