4 Early Warning Signs an Employee Is Losing Interest Watching for indications of burnout or apathy is part of taking care of your team and your business.

By Jacqueline Whitmore

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Most people who start a new job come in eager to learn and perform. After a few years, however, the excitement wears off and those tasks that seemed so exhilarating at first can become mundane and less challenging.

Your job, as a leader, is to make sure the people with whom you work stay motivated. You must recognize the signs that they are less than enchanted with their occupation before it's too late. Here are four critical signs to look for.

They disengage

When people are excited about something, they talk about it. You'll notice new employees piping in at staff meetings with their ideas, and coming to you with new ways of doing things. They're interested in making an impact. Once they lose interest, they may stop being engaged. They may begin showing up late for work or calling in sick more often as well. If you spot this trend, call a private meeting with them and brainstorm on new assignments or goals that will re-inspire them.

Related: The 10 Golden Rules of Effective Management

They’ve lost interest in keeping up

People who are interested in their careers make it a point to keep current on the latest news, industry trends, inventions and technologies. They want to better themselves and like to learn. Be observant as to your team's habits. Are they reading the current journals, attending conferences, practicing or sharing the hottest technologies, or talking about the latest findings? If not, find out why. Do they exude a "know-it-all' attitude? Do they have access to all the available resources? Or, are they just disinterested? Exploring these answers will help you determine the solution.

They don’t take initiative

Beware of those employees who don't step up any longer to take on new assignments. Their disinterest may indicate they are fatigued or burned out. The solution could be as simple as shaking things up from the daily routine. Perhaps they need a break. Have they taken time off in the past year to relax and recharge? Maybe they need assistance with their workload.

Some people are so dedicated they would burn themselves out before complaining. Communication is key to success for both you and your employee. Find out if their workload is too complicated or too cumbersome for one person to handle.

Related: Here Is How to Fix Employee Burnout (Infographic)

4. They keep their ideas and opinions to themselves.

When people are passionate about something, they have an opinion. Just think politics or religion as an example. When one doesn't care anymore, he or she settles, and stops piping in with ideas, opinions or disagreements.

If you suspect someone is in a rut, watch their body language at staff meetings as an indicator of interest, as well as their interactions with you and other co-workers. Those who are just coasting along and going with the flow are hazardous to your business because they may not care or be keen enough to spot an impending disaster.

When you've invested your heart and soul into your business, it's too important to let others bring it down. If you can identify these signs of disinterest, nip them in the bud. Try various techniques to see if you can re-ignite the interest. If you still can't, it might be time to make some organizational changes or look for a replacement.

Related: How to Avoid Burnout in Your Team

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

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