Article
Actively Disengaged & Staying
Dealing with “prisoners” in the workplace

A Workplace Prisoner is someone who indicates that they will stay at their organization despite a lack of motivation to give their best effort and a lack of positive things to say about their organization. These employees represent about 8% of the global workforce – affecting the attraction of new talent for organizations as well as negatively impacting the work experience of engaged employees and hurting the bottom line.

Who are they? The clearest demographic relationship for Prisoners is tenure: longer-tenured employees are significantly more likely to be Prisoners than shorter-tenured employees. These employees may feel they have been at their jobs long enough and deserve the pay they have without earning it.

What can organizations do about Workplace Prisoners?

  • If you’re a manager — do yourself, the Prisoner, and the organization a favor by addressing the situation head-on. Let the employee know you see his or her vast potential is unrealized.
  • If you’re a CHRO — you can be the teacher for leaders. Educate them on how to identify disengaged employees of all types.
  • If you’re a CEO — lead by example. Your role is to set expectations and set the tone for your organization.
  • If you’re a Prisoner — ask yourself whether you can be engaged at your current employer and, if not, is it worth you staying?

About the Author

Director Culture & Engagement Practice | U.S.

We would like to thank Don MacPherson for his insight.

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