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Monday, November 7, 2022

Recognizing and Combatting Complacency in the Workplace

Complacency is all around us, but it (and the problems it brings) can be especially noticeable in the workplace.

If people have stopped going the extra mile and if they seem totally content with the status quo, their complacency could be hurting your organization. The good news is that complacency often comes after some success, and people feel comfortable and confident enough to stop trying so hard. The bad news is that it can keep you from being successful in the future because people stop aiming for bigger, better things.

Don’t let that happen. Battle complacency in your workplace. Here are some of the signs so you know what to look for in others and also in yourself.

Overall Disengagement

Complacent employees tend to retract from their coworkers and managers. There will be less participation in meetings or daily conversations. If employees seem like their head isn’t in it some days and you notice that they are working less hours, it might be a warning sign. 

Complacent employees don’t have their heads and hearts in their jobs. It’s like they’ve lost the interest and excitement.

Less Initiative and Risk Taking

Motivated employees will take initiative to make changes and take on new responsibilities. Complacent employees do the opposite. They avoid any new tasks or assignments when possible and don’t sign up for anything risky. It’s like they don’t want any additional attention on them. 

Loss of Creativity

If employees stop thinking about and coming up with new creative ideas, it’s a sign of complacency. You want a team that drives improvement for the team and for each individual member. In meetings and group calls, you want new ideas to bounce around. Having team members that don’t seem to care or don’t have anything new to offer can impact the entire dynamic in a negative way. 

Shortcuts Taken

Especially in workplaces with a strong safety culture, taking shortcuts can be detrimental. Complacent team members take the easy route and sometimes even skip over steps while working either intentionally or because they weren’t paying close attention. This can lead to unsafe acts to happen within the workplace.

In addition to safety, it can negatively impact a company in many other ways. Taking shortcuts with anything legal can be a big nightmare. There can be issues with customer service results or function of services and products sold.

Uninterested in the Future

Most employees have a clear goal for their next career move. Maybe it’s working toward a promotion and acquiring the necessary skill-sets to do that or maybe it’s just mastering a certain part of their role to be the best. Complacent team members will lack interest in the next steps. It doesn’t appear that they are working towards anything specific.

Combatting complacency and keeping your team engaged and interested is a continuous challenge, and we all know that employee engagement doesn’t just happen by accident. But it’s not all bad news, either. There are effective ways to intentionally foster a workplace where employees care about their jobs, even when the tasks themselves aren’t overly stimulating. Here are 5 ways to combat complacency in the workplace.

Share the mission.

Remind employees of the company’s purpose and goals so they feel connected to the larger mission and see how their behaviors can have an impact on customers. 

Change Up Routines

Complacency can happen in situations where there are repetitive work and boredom. If you have lots of roles with repetitive tasks, get creative about how to switch things up. Invite the team to offer suggestions for automation of certain parts or ways to make the process better.

Offer Continued Education and Training

Another way to keep employees engaged is to offer opportunities to learn.

There are so many different forms of continuing education that employees can participate in. Some education is mandatory to stay informed on any changes within specific industries. As regulations and technology changes, employees may need to take part in classes to learn about the differences and how it impacts their part of the process.

Education doesn’t always have to be formal classwork. Many companies offering mentoring or job swap opportunities to help employees learn and understand other roles within the organization. This promotes a sense of teamwork and helps highlight how different roles impact each other. It also gives employees ideas of other areas they might like to explore a career path in within the organization.

Publish Results Publicly

Everybody is familiar with scoreboards. Choose different metrics to post regularly with a results ranked for everyone to see. By switching up the different metrics, people are motivated to work hard and fight to reach the top of the list. The rankings can be shared in meetings, posted within the office or even shared on a virtual platform like Slack.

Having results visible to the team can inspire people to fight their way up the list or fight to stay at the top if they are there. Creating a little friendly competition keeps employees on their toes while at work.

Adapt and Learn

Dealing with change can be difficult, but it’s a necessary part of life. As things grow and change, you should be constantly working to adapt and learn new ways to accomplish your goals. It’s a good way to continue to challenge your mind and stay engaged.

Complacency is a danger to many organizations. It can destroy a organization’s success. Leaders need to keep employees energized so that they can provide the best possible service to their customers, whether they are coming to you for the first time or the 10th.

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