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How to overcome complacency in the workplace

How to overcome complacency in the workplace

We’ve certainly entered a new work normal in the post-pandemic world we live in these days. Many of us are used getting out of bed in the morning, getting dressed, and driving to work or to the office.

Depending on how large the company is, there may be dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people working in one building. While some may still work in the office every day, others enjoy a hybrid situation that requires them to report only once, twice or monthly.

It is clear that people have a different view of going to work and being around coworkers today than they did years ago.

The new hybrid world or completely remote environment we are working in can be very advantageous in many ways. We are able to blend our work and personal lives in such a way that’s engaging and rewarding for our careers, but also in our family and personal lives at the same time.

This is something that many people expect from their companies. This type of hybrid or remote work arrangement has the disadvantage of making it easier to become complacent at work.

This article will discuss the signs and tips for overcoming complacency at work.

What is complacency in the workplace?

Complacency in the workplace refers to a state of mind where employees stop thinking and simply follow a pattern. The employee goes into “autopilot” mode and completes their tasks automatically without being mindful and attentive.

This is something that we all do on a regular basis at work. It becomes more of a problem when this is a routine way of doing things.

Workplace Complacency Signs

When you’re showing the following behavior, you might be suffering from this problem. You might be able fix this problem by learning how to identify complacency. Complacency at work is illustrated by the behavior and mindset shown below.

1. Taking Shortcuts

This is especially true for workplaces that are high-risk, such as construction or manufacturing. These shortcuts can prove to be as detrimental as you might think. Even worse, it could lead to accidents.[1]

Safety concerns aside, shortcuts can lead to lower-quality and sloppy work. It can take a toll on a company’s reputation, and if it bumps up against anything with legal ramifications, it takes things to a whole new level.

2. Disengagement

When you’re feeling complacent at work, you tend to disengage more daily. You don’t send as many messages or emails as you once did.  It’s possible to wonder when the last time you shared a cup of coffee with a coworker, or if you spoke on the phone with a colleague.

This is because you’re not interacting nearly as much as you did before, and you’re becoming less involved with the people around you.

3. Losing Passion

Many of us are passionate about what we do and have a genuine passion for our work. We are passionate about our work and care about providing a high-quality product.

If you become bored at work, your passion can fade. You no longer seem to be interested in the new projects or tasks that used to excite you, like a dog chewing on a bone.

Your daily grind now has a grayish tint to it, instead of vibrant enthusiasm at work. This is a sign that you have become complacent at work.

4. There is an increase in errors

As you can see, mistakes are more common when you get checked at work. This is not surprising and it’s common for most people.

It’s easy to think of the time when you had a lot on your mind and didn’t pay much attention as you should do your job. These times are when your mistakes tend increase because you lose focus of what you’re doing. It’s only natural to make these mistakes.

Now, imagine what it would be like to feel all the time: bored, complacent and not aware. This is not only damaging to you but also to the business that you’re in.[2]

5. Carelessness

Complacency can make your level of concern about work drop. It’s not that you don’t care at all, it’s that you don’t have the same level of concern you used to.

The work that once gave you pride is now just a “phone it in” where you do the least amount of possible effort. You don’t need to remember the notes you made in meetings. Everything is affected when you take less care of the quality of your work.

6. Fewer Initiations

Many people know their goals and are looking for the next step in a career. This could be something related to career advancement such as taking on managerial responsibilities or an expanded position in another field.

Sometimes, this can mean learning a new skill to enhance your toolbox. You can also try new things that will help you in your job. It will bring you more satisfaction.

When you’re complacent at work you generally see little to no initiation in these types of areas anymore. Static people stay stuck at their level and don’t want to learn or accept more responsibility.

How to overcome complacency in the workplace

Signs such as these are not what you want to see in those you work with and certainly now what you’d want others to be seen in you. This isn’t what you wanted and it’s not what you want to do.

Learn how to rise above complacency and improve your work performance.

1. Be Self-aware

A great skill is to feel connected with your feelings about your life components. Self-awareness can be applied to your work, relationships, and habits. If you find yourself checking off several signs of complacency, it’s probably time to do something about it.

You must be aware of your feelings over time. As a way to fight complacency, you might consider keeping a journal. You don’t have to write in it every day. It is very insightful to write in it once per week.

This is a good idea. Take a look at the past few months. Your commute could be the problem. Perhaps it is a coworker who bothers you. It could be any of these things, so you need to identify it before you begin your journey.

It might be time to make a change if you are complaining about boring work over and over again.

2. Get in touch with others

Many people work remotely in the post-COVID age. Sure we get to attend meetings and interact with others via video, but it doesn’t always scratch the itch for interaction.

You can combat complacency in the workplace by ensuring you have constant interaction with other people. If you’re dealing with people in sales or company recruitment, you may think that that’s enough interaction.

It is easy to grab a quick meal or drink with co-workers. Even a simple coffee break could make it possible.

3. Get involved

Similar to seeking interaction with others it’s very helpful to get involved. You can do this by getting involved in your:

  • Co-workers
  • Hobbyists like you
  • Community
  • Friends

Simply feeling “plugged in” to the other people in our various networks can make us feel more engaged in every facet of our lives. Consider joining a local sports team or attending community meetings.

Take action and become involved in something you’re passionate about.

Here’s an article on how to find your community to help loneliness.

4. Get a new skill or certification

Learning a new skill or certification will help you overcome complacency at work.[3]

All of us are guilty of being on Groundhog Day. It’s easy to get into the same routine and do the same thing day after day because it’s easy. You can engage your brain by challenging yourself to learn a new skill, or certificate. It is a great way to avoid complacency.

5. Change departments

This is something that some companies promote more than others. You might consider changing your department if you work in a company that encourages you to learn and grow.

It doesn’t have to be anything as drastic as moving from accounting to sales. It’s very rewarding to learn about a different department. It allows you to gain a better understanding of the company as well as your own skills.

6. Change your routine

You can avoid complacency in the workplace by changing your routine. It is as simple as changing your routine.

  • Take a different route to work
  • For lunch, try something different
  • Reorganizing your schedule

If you work remotely, instead of checking the email first thing in the morning, don’t check it until noon. Knock a couple of projects out first thing in the morning instead of getting sucked into email and someone else’s agenda.

  • You can start working sooner or later
  • Take a break for a few hours instead of one.
  • Take a walk before you open your laptop in the morning.

Simple changes can make a big difference.

7. Get feedback

Some people don’t like to ask for feedback on their job. This can hit someone’s ego but if you can take criticisms, even the not-so-constructive ones, try hearing what others think.

You may be already good at your job, but there’s always room to get better. It can help you be more efficient and could lead to better results.

How to overcome complacency in the workplace

Take Action

Stay self-aware Understanding why you feel this way is the first step. Start by writing a journal. Be more mindful. Look for the reasons you feel this way.
Engage with Others: Find companionship. You don’t have to be very engaging or always at parties. Sometimes, just a cup of coffee will suffice.
Get involved Try new things. There is so much information out there, so don’t be afraid to explore it.
Get a new skill or certification: You can learn new things and get involved. You can go to a gym, bike meet, or learn a new class. It will make your life more interesting, and may even help you get rid of complacency.
Change departments Since you’re already in the workplace, why not try a new department and learn something new.
You can change your routines You can bring color to your daily life by changing routines. So, spice things up!
For feedback, ask: Learning from other people and from our mistakes can help us grow. By asking for feedback, we don’t only grow, but we also acknowledge our limitations and accept that we can improve ourselves for the better.


Complacency among employees is very common. This can be due to many reasons. It can lead to many problems not just for the company but for everyone’s morale.

Fortunately, as we’ve discovered there are a variety of ways to overcome complacency in the workplace. Be alert for signs and take corrective action if needed. Before you know it, you’re more engaged than ever and excited again about work!

Steven Lasry via unsplash.com Featured photo credit

Refer to

[1] Airswift: Incomplacency leads to accidents
[2] LinkedIn: The Effects Of Complacency
[3] Indeed: 10 Steps To Learn New Skills

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