Toxic employees of the month: Ambitionless workers
One of the most toxic kind of employees at your company are the ambitionless. While not lazy or belligerent, these low-ambition employees may operate under your management’s radar, subtly bringing down productivity levels and morale without their coworkers or bosses realizing it.
Ambitious employees want to advance their careers, skills and contribute to the positive growth of a company. Meanwhile, ambitionless employees possess what Curt Coffman, the author of “First, Break All the Rules,” defines for Gallup as a “wait-and-see attitude” to their job. They might not be overtly negative or unproductive, but they also don’t take charge when they need to or go above and beyond what they were called to do.
Recent Gallup poll results from February show that only around 35 percent of the American workforce report being engaged at their job. The rest of respondents reported either being disengaged or actively disengaged from their work. Ambitionless employees fall more in the disengaged category as they passively approach their job responsibilities rather than forgo them altogether.
Why are ambitionless workers so toxic for your organization?
Disengaged, ambitionless employees may not make the effort to connect with their coworkers, leading to losses in communication and office connectedness. Their work may also be adequate but never above average. Though this level of work may not significantly impact your company’s profit margin initially, think of it like an unintended infection. If left untreated, it will grow, spreading to all areas of your company, infecting other workers, bringing down company-wide efficiency levels.
To avoid this ambitionless epidemic, hiring managers can find ways to motivate their workers, such as performance incentives, restructuring job responsibilities and holding one-on-one meetings with management to address areas where they can improve and how their job could be made better for them. Refocusing your hiring efforts on finding ambitious candidates will also stop the flow of disengaged workers into your company.
What are the benefits of an engaged or ambition-driven workforce?
Ambitionless employees are more likely to leave a company, along with persuade their coworkers to follow them. To avoid building a lower-than-average retention rate at your organization, work hard to not only rehabilitate ambitionless employees, but also to let them go if they don’t improve. Engaged workers will benefit your company far more than sub-par workers who aren’t passionate about their career.
“Engaged employees produce more, they make more money for the company, they create emotional engagement with the customers they serve, and they create environments where people are productive and accountable,” Coffman explained in a Gallup Q&A. “We also know that engaged employees stay with the organization longer and are much more committed to quality and growth than the other two groups.”