“Quitting in seat” is the more popular use, referring to an employee who decides to stay with a company but is no longer engaged or is just doing enough to keep the job. You may have dealt with one, but quitters in seat are not necessarily problematic employees who fail miserably at the tasks they’re assigned to. In fact, they may have become top performers at one point, then slowly faded in the background having no interest in doing more than what’s expected, for the practical reason of just staying in the payroll.
Based on CEB’s Global Talents Trend Q3 2016: “As global job-seeking activity declines (after two consecutive quarters of growth), employees plan to stay with their current employers, but not to go above and beyond on the job.”
If you have been working for at least a year, or have jumped from one company to another, the more personal question is, have you ever experienced quitting in seat? If in one point in your career you have felt being in a dead end job, but didn’t have the energy to quit, that right there is a sign.
I should know, having joined the job market since 1995, I’d be a fool to say I always had the spark to work more than the bare minimum, but I wouldn’t be where I am right now if I have not overcome such disengagement and brought learnings with me that got me excited every time I get a new assignment, working even harder when faced with pressure.
It’s no surprise that there are more articles intended for businesses on quashing this trend of disconnected employees. But if you figured you’re a quitter in seat now, given our prospects of economic and political uncertainties, how do you recognize and address this yourself?
Here are signs you’re about go the “clocked in, checked out” path:
- You’ve transitioned from being outgoing and approachable to the silent worker who hates getting unnecessarily bothered.
- You’ve become close to most of your co-employees, even your boss, going out on occasions, now you just nod as courtesy and keep to yourself.
- You’ve been recognized for your job performance and potential for career growth but couldn’t care less in effect making mistakes more noticeable.
- You used to make it to the perfect attendance roster, now you’ve come up with every excuse to be tardy and go on sick leave.
- You’ve been sharing ideas both impractical and genius but have since given up and kept it quiet.
These are just some of the common indicators of keeping the seat but getting stale at work. Now here’s what you can do to get yourself out of that quitting mentality:
- Your team, your boss, won’t recognize the value of your efforts or contributions if you don’t engage or make them feel your presence. Start re-engaging with the team by participating actively in meetings – you’re there for a reason – so speak up and join the dialogue, no matter how outrageous you think your ideas are, the important thing is you’re once again willing to share, and bring to the table what you are capable of doing or taking action, expect criticisms and accept rejection with grace, acknowledge tasks at hand, commit to deadlines and let them know you value them as colleagues as well.
- You may have distanced yourself with team mates and your boss for lack of concern about your job, but you can rekindle your relationships by interacting again. Ask for inputs and feedback, big or small, negative or positive, particularly about tasks involving you and your team. But be sure to put them in good use, show your appreciation for their support, and share your learnings.
- You may have reached the dead end, feeling unrecognized or thinking you’re unfairly treated, but don’t get ahead of yourself. Your employment contract stipulates what’s to be expected of you, but you get noticed by thinking outside your contract. Get things done ahead of the deadline so you can ask and accept more work aligned to your job and skills. Go beyond the call of duty by working on tasks that benefit the team and the company as a whole.
- You know you have to show up at work because you need your paycheck and can’t miss your bills. But if it’s starting to feel burdensome to prep up every morning for work, perhaps you need to bring back what got you in this job in the first place, or recreate your “first day high.” As in school, kids get excited because everything is new with the prospects of making new friends and learning new things. Get the same mindset and look forward to new things at work every single day. Imagine what you can accomplish by yourself, working with a team, and guided by your boss. Attendance is a key measure of performance appraisals, make it your accountability to be at work on time every time. Besides, if you skip work, someone else will need to work double or overtime in your tardiness or absence, you don’t want others loathing you for lack of commitment to time.
- If you thought having shared many of your ideas as futile and earned you no recognition, think again. I’m sure you’ve come across tales of successful businesses starting from ideas initially thought of as stupid or impossible. They’ve become successful because they kept at it. There’s no harm in getting your ideas across regardless if it’s going to get you noticed, to become an active member of the team, share as many of your ideas as you can think of. The mere act of sharing makes you a great contributor of the team, eventually benefiting the company.
I have encountered employees, from frontline agents to tenured managers, who seem to enjoy just being in the seat and collecting paycheck by paycheck feeling contented but unimportant. Make them accountable, challenge them with tasks that push them to go beyond their potential, and allow them to appreciate their role and contributions to the company’s productivity and growth.
I know this is easily said than done. And situations differ from employee to employee. You might even be considering filing your resignation sooner than later and shifting careers for a change. I’d do that rather than “seating pretty.” But as I always tell the people I’ve work with, “You’re here, why not be at your very best and find ways of enjoying work while you’re at it.”