Sheltering in Their Jobs: Identifying Employees Who Are ‘Hibernating’

identifying employees who are sheltering in their jobs

What exactly does it mean to shelter in a job? It’s basically a symptom of complacency. An employee may not be happy at work, they may be disengaged and feel detached from their role, and yet they stay put in that job for a number of reasons. It could be that they are afraid of what could happen if they were to leave. It might be that maybe they are just waiting for something better to come along. It could just be that they simply don’t have the energy to look for a new position. Or, what happens if they do move to a different company and the fallout of that move affects their lives adversely. Worse yet, what happens if they can’t find a new job.

Whatever the case, sheltering in a job is a problem both for the employer and for the employee who is unhappy. For the company, the sheltering employee is usually one who, whether intentionally or not, represents a toxic element in the work environment. As a result of this negativity, productivity could suffer, morale might diminish; basically, everything is impacted in some way by the individual who is sheltering in their job.

RELATED: Toxic Employees; How One Bad Apple Ruins the Bunch >>

This is not an ideal situation. So how do you handle an employee who is sheltering in their job? How do you even identify such an employee? And is there anything you can do to mitigate the situation? In this article, we take a look at ways in which you as the employer can more readily identify those who are just sheltering.

employee engagement and your business' success

How To Tell if an Employee Is Sheltering in a Job

A January 2021 LinkedIn survey revealed that nearly 75% of those surveyed provided answers that, in essence, suggested they were sheltering in their jobs. This is a very high number with potentially very detrimental consequences for those company owners who may not even be aware of their employees’ mindsets.

How can you identify those employees who may be sheltering in their job, waiting for something better, or underperforming because of lack of engagement with their position?

  • Are They Falling Behind?

    If you note that an employee is consistently dropping the ball on projects, this could be an indicator that they may be sheltering in the job.

  • Do They Show Initiative?

    An excited and engaged employee is one who demonstrates initiative when it comes to their responsibilities. If this is not the case, some investigating may be in order.
  • Are They Complaining Frequently?

    Generally speaking, someone who is sheltering will either withdraw and be quieter than they otherwise would be or conversely, they might become regular complainers.
  • Do They Collaborate?

    If someone is sheltering in their job, they might keep to themselves and thus be somewhat hesitant to collaborate with their colleagues.

RELATED: Employee Retention Problems; When They Stay Too Long >>

Being Proactive To Determine if an Employee Is Sheltering

There are some things that you can do to more effectively help you pinpoint individuals who might just be sheltering in the job.

  1. Have Employees Take Annual Surveys

    Surveys can reveal a great deal about your employees’ general outlook on the company and the employee’s happiness in their position. Ideally, you want to make the surveys anonymous, otherwise, you could be getting skewed answers. You can ask about recent changes, general morale and, gauge how employees feel about the future of the company. While you can’t necessarily figure out exactly who might be sheltering, you can use it as a tool for gathering information regarding people’s mindsets overall.

  2. Have Regular Check-ins

    There is certainly nothing wrong with having a regular catch-up session with your employees. This way, you have a private opportunity to engage with each individual one-on-one and thereby get a better feel for their temperature regarding their work situation. Don’t be afraid to ask them about their stress level, their expectations and how they feel about current workloads.

  3. Take Stock of Your Company Culture

    The issue of sheltering in a job might not just be the result of an employee’s restlessness, it could be something inherent in the company culture. It doesn’t hurt to regularly evaluate what type of company culture you’re cultivating. Ask yourself: Are diversity and inclusiveness encouraged? Are employees recognized for excellent work? If an employee is facing personal issues, do you accommodate them? Is your compensation plan fair and equitable?

    Dealing with employees who are unhappy in their job and might be looking to eventually make a move can be difficult. The first step is to figure out exactly who is unhappy, try and decipher why they might feel this way and then approach the situation tactfully.

RELATED: How an Employee Relations Strategy Supports Your Company Culture >>

Axcet HR Solutions Is Here To Help

We are a Kansas City-based PEO working with small business owners as they navigate human resources-related issues. If you are having difficulty with an employee and aren’t sure how to handle the situation, we can help. Our experienced HR experts understand the nuances of employee relations. Contact us today and let’s work together!

Contact Axcet HR Solutions

Written by Laura Dowling, SPHR

Get HR Updates

New call-to-action