There are plenty of reasons why people “check out” at work. Perhaps the company culture doesn’t inspire them to feel engaged or they don’t feel challenged because they’ve been doing the same thing for a long time. It may also be something personal. No one wants to dread their job or be on autopilot day in and day out, so figuring out what is causing them to check out and coming up with a solution to fix it is key. Employee engagement is not only the responsibility of the employer but obviously the employee’s responsibility as well. These four tips will help employees get to the root of the issue and come up with a plan to become “checked in” at work again.

1. Ask the question: What gets them excited?

They should think back to a day when they couldn’t wait to get to work. What were they doing that day? What was on the schedule that had them excited? They should also look at their current day-to-day work, which responsibilities or activities do they find interesting? Often, they can find at least one aspect of the day that is interesting and engaging. Answering these questions will help them identify those things they do enjoy.

2. Write down those little clues.

They should write down exactly what they’re doing during these enjoyable times. Then they need to take a look at that list and ask themselves, “What strengths was I using here, and what specifically caught my interest?” Strengths and interests are clues that will help them figure out what work actually engages them. After identifying those interests, they need to assess where in their work they can incorporate more of those activities. This may mean talking to the manager and requesting to work more on certain types of projects, or taking on new responsibilities while giving up some of the ones they least enjoy.

It is important to realize and accept however, that no one is engaged 100 percent of the time. No matter how much a person loves their job or how great the company is, there will be ebbs and flows. As long as they feel engaged more than they feel “checked out,” the employee is headed in the right direction.

3. Connect with colleagues.

When an employee connects to coworkers, they’re much more likely to be engaged in the job. They should make efforts to meet new people and network at the company. They should go to coffee once in a while or have lunch with someone. They ought to build those relationships, because it is those relationships which can lead to them feeling more engaged at work.

(What happens if an employee “checks out” for too long? Consider reading: Are your employees poachable?)

4. Build a more positive relationship with managers.

An employee’s relationship with their manager can make or break their job satisfaction, which ultimately affects engagement. They should communicate regularly and clearly with their manager not only about what they want in a career but to understand how they can achieve their goals.

These four steps will help employees get closer to feeling engaged at work again, or may cause them to realize that it is time to make some bigger changes in their career. Checking out happens to everyone; it is how a person handles it that is important.

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