The Price of Apathy


Every day, managers struggle with problems caused by employee turnover. Finding and keeping good people is hard. Vacant positions put a strain on the rest of the team as they work to pick up the slack. Of course the problem isn’t solved once a hire is made. Getting a new member of the team up to speed takes time. They have to learn not only the mechanics of the job, but related policies and procedures – not to mention the culture of the team. In some cases, turnover is so high that it feels like you can never get caught up.

It hurts when good people quit and leave. It hurts worse when they quit and stay.

Apathy is a silent killer lurking inside just about every organization. It’s deadly because it drains the life out of anything and anyone it touches. Projects and presentations fall flat. Communication stops. Customers and coworkers languish in a sea of confusion and frustration. Forward momentum halts and business suffers.

I’m not talking about the occasional case of burnout. We all have experienced burnout from time to time. The disengagement I’m referring to goes deeper. Author Kristi Hedges reports that almost half of all US workers say they don’t even like their job, and 18% of leaders are actively disengaged.

Recently, this last statistic was hammered home with me. I was involved in a conversation with a manager whose business is losing customers like crazy. Through the first four months of the year, his territory has lost millions of dollars in revenue. When presented with the suggestion to seek out assistance with developing a strategic plan, his response was “I don’t care.”

So what causes good people to check out? Hedges offers these eight common workplace demotivators.

  1. Micromanagement
  2. Lack of progress
  3. Job insecurity
  4. No confidence in leadership
  5. Lack of accountability
  6. Poor communication
  7. Unpleasant coworkers
  8. Boredom

As today is Memorial Day, the day set aside to honor those who gave their life while serving our country, I can’t help but think about the men and women this day commemorates. Talk about engaged. Talk about the opposite of apathy.

How petty of me to mentally check out from my work when they bought my freedom by going “all in.” What better way to honor their sacrifice by giving my all to the work I have chosen.

Will you join me? Will you shrug off whatever negative feelings are keeping you from doing your best? Will you instead commit to fully engaging in making the world around you a better place?

Your organization needs you. Your team members need you. Your customers need you. They need you to wake up and plug in. They need you to care.

I hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend. I also hope you returned to work refreshed, refocused, and recommitted to do your best.

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