Addressing Employee Apathy

Employee apathy is often overlooked since those who exhibit this characteristic tend to fly under the radar, which is exactly their goal: to get paid, not bother with anyone unless necessary and not have anyone bother them. However, the nonchalant attitudes of apathetic employees can cause problems eventually. There are several causes of employee apathy, but fortunately there are things business owners and bosses can do to overcome this obstacle.


Apathetic employees are not happy, nor are they disgruntled – they’re just there. Employees that have become apathetic typically go through their daily motions at work, doing only the minimum required to complete tasks, remaining detached from their co-workers. These workers are typically uninterested in everything having to do with their workplace, except making money and going home. If a company event is optional or one for which she does not get paid to attend, you will not see the apathetic employee there.

  • Burnout
  • Financial difficulties
  • Employee turnover
  • Government regulations
  • Competition

How it Happens

Employee apathy can be caused by many things. Some people are apathetic because it’s part of their personality; there is little you can do to change such employees. However, most of the time apathy is caused by something or someone in the work environment. Abrasive bosses or co-workers can cause employees to tune out, caring less and less about the work they do. Policies and procedures that are inefficient or constantly changing can result in employee apathy as well – if the company doesn’t care enough to get its act together and be at its very best, why should the employees?

Why it is Problematic

Though apathetic employees don’t usually make a scene or cause trouble at work, you should always aim to have your employees be as engaged as possible. If an employee isn’t naturally apathetic and only becomes that way because of his workplace, odds are he will eventually leave and find a more satisfying job. Apathetic employees will not put in extra effort unless it comes with more money, which can be an issue if you ever get in a crunch or need extra help.

For example, if you ask a salaried employee to work overtime on an account or help train a new worker in her spare time, it is unlikely to happen without extra pay or a heavy dose of persuasion if she’s apathetic. Apathy also prevents a business from becoming the best it can be. A company is only as strong as its workforce, and if your employees don’t care about what’s going on it will be reflected in all areas, from customer service to client retention.


If a person naturally doesn’t care about much, the best way to prevent him/her from becoming apathetic in your workplace is to not hire him/her in the first place. Though it is possible for people to put on facades during the hiring phase, truly apathetic people are often easy to spot. To prevent apathy from spreading throughout your workforce, show interest in your employees, listen to them when they have concerns and address them individually in workplace correspondence whenever possible. Organizing enjoyable functions and activities during work hours where employees can relax a bit and mingle with their co-workers can also help fight apathetic attitudes.

Share Your Thoughts

Have you dealt with apathy in your workplace? Please write a comment, I’d like to hear your take


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