How I became a Disengaged Employee


I cannot believe how circumstances can make you do a complete 360 degree turnaround. Let me explain . . .

Ever since I entered the workplace way back in the early 80’s, I have always been the employee who:

• Punctuality – was never late for anything under any circumstances. I always left home an hour before I needed to be anywhere (even if it only took me 20 minutes to get there) to allow for unforeseen circumstances which might delay me reaching my destination.
• Attitude towards work – always a “can do”/ how can I help you? (with a genuine smile). No job was ever too big or too small and the position of the person in the company did not matter – from Cleaning lady to Managing Director – everyone was treated equally. I would go out of my way to help (even staying late or taking work home) – I never knew the words “it’s not my job”. I know what I know today because I never, ever said “it’s not my job”. I learnt a lot more in the workplace than any textbook could ever teach me. I carry the lessons I have learnt at each place of employment with me to this day.
• Service delivery – always gave 200 percent of myself no matter what the task. Always delivered on time every time, within budget (often coming in under budget).
• Customer service – the 7 years spent in the Insurance industry working for a one man Brokerage, I often spent up to 14 hours a day at the office (voluntarily – without additional remuneration) purely to deliver fast and efficient service to our clients because that is what I expected of myself – not because my “boss” told me to. In fact – he often threatened to take the office keys away from me to stop me coming in at 06:30 and leaving at 20:00 or thereabouts.

My current working conditions have deteriorated to the point where:

• Punctuality has flown out the window. I have reached the stage where I really don’t care whether I’m late for work or not. This really bothers me because it goes totally against the grain of who I am. I was not raised to be like this. I was raised in a home where you are punctual no matter what the cost. If it means that you have to leave home 2 hours before the time, so be it. That is what you will do. There is no excuse for being late – unless you died along the way, of course.
• Attitude towards work – I have now reached the stage where I’m no longer interested in helping anyone with anything. I come to work and do my job (to make sure that I deliver on my Key Performance Areas (KPA’s) as is expected of me) and that is it. I have become a clock-watcher. I cannot wait for 4pm each day to get out of the office as fast as I can. I live for my weekends and dread Mondays.
• Service delivery – I no longer give 200 percent of myself – in fact, I find it difficult to even give 100 percent of myself. I’m no longer interested in helping anyone with anything – if it’s not in my job description, I’m not doing it.
• Customer service – I don’t have external customers at present, but service to my internal customers has reached the point now where I do what I have to do and THAT’S IT!

Why, I ask myself have I turned into this monster? Is it maybe because . . .

• All my complaints to Management (even with solutions) has fallen on deaf ears?
• Most of my colleagues are not interested in doing more than the barest minimum in the workplace? They prefer to stand around chatting and having coffee than actually doing a full day’s work.
• On the rare occasions when I ask for assistance, everybody is too busy to assist me, does not know the answer to the questions I ask and cannot re-direct me?
A simple example: today I needed to use the photocopying machine for the first time (I have my own 3-in-1 printer/copier in my office and I was not present when all the staff was trained to use the photocopier in the shared space). Nobody was available to help me. The colleagues in the office did not know how to use the copier or were too busy to leave their desks to assist me and those who knew how were not in the building at the time. I am referring to Administrators, who has, as part of their normal daily routine, to make photocopies for their Managers – yet, they don’t know how to reduce the print size on the photocopier?

Is it because they really don’t know or is it just because I have asked? Am I being paranoid?

As recently as two days ago, I had to deliver on a job that was given to me at the 11th hour and was expected to perform miracles to get the job done. The job was done and delivered within the given timeframe (with a smile) – yet today, I ask for help and nobody is “able” to help me?

. . . and you wonder why I have disengaged from my workplace?

I have been fighting this disengagement for the last two years now because this is just not me. I have never disengaged from my workplace, like I have done over the last few months. This disengagement is causing major conflict within me but I’m tired of being the kind and courteous one – too kind to say “no”.

I am trying to get out but the current economic climate is not working in my favour right now so I’ve decided to bite the bullet and stick it out, however, I don’t know how much more of this I can take.

I am self-destructing and I don’t know how to save myself – stop me from falling!

10 thoughts on “How I became a Disengaged Employee

  1. I feel for you. My first year at my job was fantastic. My boss loved me and gave me the impression that one day I would be moving up. I worked with a peer whose position, when she left, was changed to an assistant director position, and then they hired someone from the outside. It turns out that I’m the only one who reports to her. My other peers don’t. This person is the most stupid, overly sensitive and emotional nutcase I’ve ever met in my life. She makes simple mistakes to this very day, over two years after she was hired, she speaks down to me and will even yell at me over trivial things. I now have no way to move up, and I don’t feel like my hard work is being recognized. To make matters worse, the director who liked me transferred out too and was replaced by someone from the outside who inexplicably loves this assistant director. This has turned into a dead end job. Unfortunately, it IS a bad economy and it’s almost impossible to find another job where you can be sure it will be stable and where you’ll be treated well. For all we know, we’ll encounter the same or other problems at the next place. Just hang in there. Either the economy will improve and you’ll find something else, or some of the bad eggs will leave first and will hopefully be replaced with some decent human beings.


    • Wow Chandanimane. Thanks for the support. Your story sounds very similar to mine. It’s such a relief to have the support of someone in a similar position – at least now I don’t feel so alone.

      I hope that your position will also change soon – just like mine. I’m hanging in there like you suggest, I’m just not sure how much longer I can hold on though. I would like to start my own Administration business from home but cannot risk having a steady income because I’m supporting my mother who is a pensioner and I am the only breadwinner in the house.

      Thanks again for the support. I appreciate it.


  2. Absolutely. It helps me too to know that other people out there are going through similar situations to mine, not that I would want to wish that on anybody! I keep hearing that now is the time to start your own business, but every business that grows will need people working for them, so not everyone can start their own business, can they? 🙂 I wish you well with whatever happens.


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