How Disengaged Employees Hurt Their Personal Brand | Blog

By Jessica Simko

I recently read a rather shocking statistic in this month’s issue of HR magazine. The article reports that 67% of the workforce is disengaged at work; two out of three people are not working to their full potential. That is a lot of people!

This statistic is very concerning for employers, but what does it mean for you if you are among the 67%?  The facts are, it is difficult (if not impossible) to build a strong personal brand if you emotionally quit your job while you stay there physically and tiredly go through the motions day after day.

To break it down furthur, the article states that 49% of employees are “disengaged” and an additional 18% are “actively disengaged” (commonly known as ‘Quit and Stay’ employees). Disengaged employees are the ones who simply check out at work. They aren’t into their work anymore and just do what needs to be done to get by. 

Actively disengaged employees are the ones who are unhappy at work and show it. They act out, they complain, they are insubordinate and they likely have performance issues. These employees are toxic to the work culture and are begging to be fired.

I know of many ‘Quit and Stay’ employees and if you are one of them, chances are management is aware of your attitude and is talking about it amongst themselves. Especially if you are in the actively disengaged category!

Overall, you might be a very hard worker with a strong work ethic and high integrity. Even so, those qualities do not shine through if you are not happy at work. The facts are, disengaged employees typically cannot and do not work past 59% of their true potential.

Even if you are currently disengaged, there was most likely a time when you were not. And believe me, the transition from a hard-working, motivated employee to a dull, burnt-out one does not go unnoticed.  If you are trying to build up a strong personal brand for yourself, you are hurting it by not working up to your true potential. Just doing what needs to be done to get by is not enough.

Going above and beyond is the key to building a strong personal brand and disengaged employees typically cannot do this.

How Does This Affect Me Outside of Work?

Part of building up a strong personal brand is having a good number of people who can give you positive recommendations. Are you trying to build up your LinkedIn profile with recommendations? The longer you stay disengaged, the more your work will suffer and the amount of recommendations you will be able to get will dwindle down to nothing. If you are disengaged, it’s likely you will be looking for work in the near future so you will need these!

Many potential employers will seek you out on LinkedIn. As a job seeker, you will want manager recommendations on your profile simply because you will be competing with those who do and those recommendations mean more than coworker recommendations.

The longer you stay disengaged, the more likely you will become actively disengaged and if you get terminated, you will now have to face the hurdle of overcoming that when you are seeking your next job.

In addition, when checking references, employers will want to speak to your previous boss. If you are asked on a job application (or elsewhere) if your last employer can be contacted and you say “no,” that raises suspicion about you.  If you are still working in that job, it makes more sense that you would not want your employer contacted but if you aren’t, what will your reason be for saying no?

Yep, I am Disengaged, What Can I Do?

If you are disengaged, you need to figure out why. Make a list of all the things that you take issue with at work. Is it your boss? Your coworkers? Low pay? Long hours? Too stressful? Job isn’t challenging enough? Not enough training? You feel unappreciated? You don’t feel like your work matters to anyone?

If it is a reason similar to those, something specific to your job, you need to sit down and discuss this with your manager in a professional manner.  If you are highly regarded, chances are your employer will want to work with you. I have seen many issues similar to these be raised and be resolved.  If, for whatever reason, you absolutely cannot do this, then you need to make a plan to move on and find something new.

If your reasons are more like “I don’t like my job,” “I don’t like my company,” “I want to do something different that isn’t offered here,” or “I want more meaningful work,” then you need to make a plan to move on as well.

I recently started a new blog on this topic that you can feel free to use as a resource.

Once you actively start doing something about your situation, it will become more bearable. You can go from disengaged to engaged, in a job you do not like, simply because you know you are doing something about it. Doing nothing about it will keep you disengaged and you can’t afford to do that. Keeping your personal brand intact is key here. The only way you can do that is to take action: talk to your boss or start actively seeking work elsewhere.

Jessica Simko is a seasoned senior level Human Resources professional with over 15 years of experience in all facets of Human Resources Management.  She is a Freelance Writer and  Entrepreneur specializing in career/ life coaching and social media. Striving to help people connect their passions with their jobs and life, she offers great career, personal branding, and life tips on her new blog, Work and Life Solutions.  Feel free to connect with her on:

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