13 Personality Traits of a Disengaged Employee [Infographic]

Let’s face it, we all have been around (or have been) someone in a workplace who just doesn’t want to be there.

You can see right off the bat what type of traits disengaged employees have just by talking to them in the office for a bit. Now, by definition disengaged employees are people who don’t care for their company and have no intention of helping it grow; so they can be quite harmful if they’re within your office.

If you’re looking for a couple of personality traits for these type of colleagues have, we narrowed it down to these:

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13 Personality Traits Of A Disengaged Employee

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1. Constantly Complaining

Disengaged employees are constantly dissatisfied with their current situation.

They may not necessarily agree with some of the things going on, or there could be more of a deeper issue that is being masked.

It’s a bit tough to have this kind of employee within the office, but it’s up to management to come up with a solution to begin engaging them and see how they can better the environment.

2. Make Excuses

My biggest pet peeve is having people make excuses. I think anyone who has played sports or any competitive team activity will tell you that an excuse-maker can kill a team.

A disengaged employee that makes excuses could damage the team with their lack of enthusiasm to complete tasks or participating with the team.

The fact that they make excuses to delay tasks can seriously hurt a team.  There’s nothing more demoralizing than a teammate who doesn’t hold their end of the bargain. The best thing to do is have a leader counsel them to be more productive and obtain a more positive outlook when it comes to completing tasks.

3. Lack Enthusiasm

When you aren’t necessarily happy about a situation, you tend to lack enthusiasm for it.

This same occurrence can happen within a workplace. For whatever reason an employee may become disengaged, he or she is likely to not care about some of the tasks that they have to complete.

If you have a lot of employees that lack enthusiasm, consider doing things that will better the company culture and make it a funner place to work at.

4. Doesn’t Help Others

Disengaged employees tend to be on their own, so when the time comes to offer help, more often than not, they’ll choose not to.

It’s not that they don’t like the people around them, it’s more that they don’t want to take the time to offer anyone help because they feel better off doing their own thing.

Try doing some team building activities at work that will encourage these disengaged employees to collaborate with their colleagues a bit more.

Here are some examples of team building activities to try at work.

Maybe a little bit of collaboration will be all the difference and actually cause a disengaged employee to be more involved.

5. Gossip

I personally hate gossip and the fact that people still do it in a workplace setting is kind of immature.

A disengaged employee will tend to gossip and spread bad vibes around the office. I think if this starts to happen, the best way to go about is to peacefully confront the person and let them know the their wrong.

6. Lying

For whatever reason disengaged employees find it easy to lie to get out of situations or avoid things.

The  absolute worst is when they lie about getting an assignment done. A solid mix of lying and making excuses can easily destroy an office. And when you have multiple employees doing this kind of thing, it can be extremely bad for your office.

7. Know-it-all

There’s nothing worse than a person who is talented and tends to act like they’re above everybody.

Having a know-it-all attitude can seriously cause damage within a workplace. These personality types are the ones that ruffle feathers and upset people.

There’s a reason why some of the best leaders in the world are the strong, humble types.

8. Independent

Usually, we tend to praise companies for having autonomous employees that are able to succeed and do things on their own.

However, when it’s a disengaged employee trying to be independent and do their own thing it’s bad news for everybody - they’re probably not getting that much work done and spending their time loafing around.

In this situation, management should try asking for more results from the employee (even if they’re completing small tasks) in order to build some momentum to make the person get better.

9. Irresponsible

We all may have moments where we do some irresponsible things at work.

We’ve probably forgotten to call in sick, show up smelling like a fun party, come in late, etc.

When being irresponsible is constant it’s not a good thing. The best thing to do is probably make the person aware that their irresponsibility is bringing down the team and ask if they can improve their habits.

10. No Initiative

Disengaged employees have no initiative to take the reins on a project and be a leader within their office.

They are ok with blending in and oftentimes do not mind not having a voice.

Remember, an office is a community of people so for someone to lack initiative and not want to contribute, that person will bring down the team.

There’s no real way of fixing a person’s psyche, however, you can try using motivational tactics to make the disengaged person a bit more excited about their job.

11. Lacks Curiosity

In a workplace environment curiosity is often an overlooked trait.

Having curiosity will allow you to question if the current way of doing things is really the best way.

A disengaged employee will just take things as is and do what they’re told.

12. No Growth

A disengaged employee has not motivation to grow within their company or make the most out of their position.

It’s up the the leaders of a company to come up with a good strategy to motivate employees and make sure that people are aware that they can grow as long as they bring in a good attitude.

13. Distracted

We all have distractions in life. It’s a little tough to focus at work at times.

A disengaged employee is more prone to get distracted and lose focus while they’re at work.

Making sure to preach the values of your company can be a way of letting them know that they’re there for a reason.  They committed to the company in order to make it better.

There’s a little bit of a misconception around disengaged employees. People believe that they’re the ones to blame. However, most of the time the problem is lackluster leadership and, to be frank, a bad company culture.

The reason we’re animate about creating a great employee engagement platform is to make sure that high-level management can see what works for their office and what doesn’t; so all employees can enjoy their job.

Have You Dealt With Disengaged Employees?

Let us know what you think of some of the personality traits that we’ve listed. Share some experiences below!

  • Gwen Neil Basic

    Great article just what i needed for a meeting

    • JacobShriar

      Nice! Good luck in the meeting :)

  • Lora Schafer

    Thanks for giving a few more details about what your premise is. I first saw the post here:http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/234436.

    I think there are a couple misleading things in this article. First, it seems to makes the assumption that they these disengaged workers are this way because they have always been disengaged and will always be disengaged. However, with 70% of the American’s workforce discribing themselves as disengaged (see Gallop Poll’s State of the American Workforce 2013) the responsibility rests on business leaders for creating a culture which don’t care for their company and have no intention of helping it grow. With 50% of employees feeling this way within the first 6 months of employment.

    The other is that there isn’t a distention between apathetic workers and toxic workers. Apathetic employees can be re-engaged, most toxic employees cannot. These toxic ones are the ones you want to help find the door. The apathetic ones you want to engage,

    If you have a more than 1 or 2 of these “disengaged” workers, I would begin to ask tough questions about the culture of the business and look and some direct ways you can begin to engage your workers.

    • JacobShriar

      Thanks for commenting Lora, I think you’re making a lot of smart points here…

      • Lora Schafer

        Thank you for clarifying this. I kinda felt bad for you guys, you got a big break with Entrepreneur publishing this, but you also received some attention you probably weren’t expecting. I think it says something about who you are to go to the lengths you have to correct and clarify. Thank you!

  • SCI Bitronic

    Great info graphic, but is there hope for these employees, are they able to be “turned around”, or is it better to move on?

  • Misha Cruz

    I realized when I read this article today, that some or all of these negative traits can be applied to both disengaged employees and/or parents/grandparents.

  • Shinai Robo

    It doesn’t mean the employ is “bad”, they just may be forcing themselves to go to work because they need a paycheck.I’ve seen these people. I’ve shared some of these traits at some point, and frankly most of us have. Some companies don’t offer things like growth, so if the “right” employes has the right attitude, they can be stuck. Hence, they are not in the right career/ and should take responsibility and move on. However, this is a very useful infographic to identify team players for a business from the beginning, or can be used as a tool in leadership.

  • Carie

    It’s worth mentioning that no one WANTS to be disengaged. No one wants to be miserable, fearful, or shut down. They check out at some point to cope, whether it’s a hostile work environment (bullying, belittling, threats), chronic physical illness / pain, or just plain lousy team leadership and lack of communication.

    Once an employee has checked out, they begin to act out instead of just saying “hey! I have a problem here…”, and will do things that can be disruptive. Deal with it early on, or pretend not to notice and let it fester. It’s human nature to jump to judgment, but what if we actually asked “what’s wrong”, and then listened to the answer?
    It can get very expensive having a lot of turnover, not to mention give your company a bad reputation. Before deciding to let someone go, the prudent, forward-thinking manager / director will be looking at referring the employee to EAP, life coaching, or at the minimum, someone else within the company who can get more insight on what’s going on, perhaps clear up some misconceptions or involve HR / training dept to help smooth out management styles and bring everyone closer to the middle.

    That is, unless the company leaders don’t care about any of the above, then they will just fire that person, and whoever is left deals with the clean up & aftermath.