Disengaged at work? Here’s how to start enjoying your job again

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If you’re not enjoying your job right now, feel like going to work is just wasting your life away and you can’t be bothered with doing any more than ‘what you’re paid to do’, it’s likely that you’re disengaged at work.

Although a part of you might feel like you don’t care about your job or whether you go over and above or not, being disengaged at work can be a downward spiral that can at best, knock your self confidence and at worst, leave you job hunting without a strong reference.

We’ve all been there

In my last job, I have to admit I became disengaged. I wanted out, and I was actively job hunting. During the working day, I’d do the tasks in my job description and no more. My brain had left my job, my body was just waiting for a new opportunity to catch up.

Initially I’ll admit it was kind of fun and felt like a big finger up ‘to the man’!

But over time it eroded my confidence in my ability to work hard, and I was paranoid that I’d get found out. It increased my anxiety and stress levels, and made me quite ill. I let it go way too far and I ended up hitting rock bottom and quitting.

I don’t regret that choice, but I do wish I’d tried to re-engage with my job to make those last few months before I left more bearable, and stop my confidence from taking a hit.

I’d like to share 5 things I’d recommend to my disengaged former self:

Know how you contribute to results and find ways to demonstrate it

One of the biggest triggers for employee disengagement is feeling like you’re not helping the business get results, make a difference or that you’re surplus to requirement. A way to combat this is to understand how you can directly impact the business positively (asking your line manager is a great place to start if you’re unsure) then setting yourself targets to work towards.

Start small, and increase your targets over time. You’ll find it works wonders for boosting your self-esteem around your abilities, and can foster a desire to perform even better next time.

Ask for training or support

Often we’re not very good at asking for help or extra training. Your managers are there to support your growth as an employee, and so if you feel you can, talk to them.

I do think telling them that you’re not enjoying your job as much at the moment and would like to find ways to combat that will help your employer see that you’re willing to improve. I know I worried about making a rod for my own back by admitting I felt disengaged, but I wish I’d spoken up in the early days of feeling that way as I think it could have turned out very differently. Sometimes our employers can’t read our minds.

Share your ideas

If you’re feeling like the company is headed in the wrong direction or you don’t agree with the plans – instead of just sitting there seething and complaining, find alternative solutions. What would you do differently? What ideas would you test and implement?

Take some time to brainstorm those ideas and pitch them to your boss. Feeling like you’re calling the shots on the direction of the business, and have some input will help you re-engage.

Think about what you would do, if you were your boss

Now that I run my own business I can appreciate that some of the things that wound me up in my last job were necessary evils. I can also see my boss’ perspective now. I challenge you to think as if you ran the company or you were your boss. And knowing that one of your employees was dissatisfied and disengaged, what would you do or recommend they do?

Time out

If you’re rolling your eyes at the first four suggestions, I’d hazard a guess you’ve been feeling this way for a while and are close to burnout.

It’s time for some time out. Book yourself a long weekend of a holiday and get away – give yourself some space from work and switch off. You’ll be surprised the wonders a break can do for your enthusiasm at work.

Of course, failing all this if you’re unhappy at work and can’t re-engage, it’s time to look at your career and job, and make a change. Maybe it is just a workplace thing, and moving to a new company will help. Maybe you’re not in a career that’s really fulfilling, and it’s time to look at a career change.

One last thing, if you’re feeling particular stressed or anxious about work and you think it’s affecting your mental health, I recommend getting in touch with mind.org.uk for advice and support. You don’t have to suffer alone.

Jen Smith coaches entrepreneurs in social media.

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