Complacency in the Workplace: What It Is and Tips for Changing It

What is complacency in the workplace? Complacency in the workplace is when you become so secure in your work that you take potentially dangerous shortcuts in your tasks, don’t perform to the same quality as you once did or become unaware of deficiencies.

Individual complacency, however, stems from a variety of factors, including the lack of a significant and visible crisis, the abundance of visible resources without assurance of their veracity, low overall performance standards, specific functional goals for each employee, subpar KPIs, insufficient performance feedback (both internally and externally), a low confrontation culture, unrealistically optimistic messaging, and stress.

All of this results in a decrease in innovation, trust, and loyalty. Your team may already be suffering from complacency if turnover is increasing, excitement is waning, and your numbers are declining. Are decisions being made by you or your team members solely to allay anxiety, or are they being made based on all available information?

Complacency In The Workplace Sandy’s Story

Signs of complacency at work

Recognizing the symptoms of complacency will help you address and modify the behavior. Here are some signs of complacency to watch out for:

Although complacency can reduce trust, loyalty, creativity, and productivity at work, there are ways to change behavior and attitude so that everyone remains a valued member of the team and appreciates their role as it should be.

What is complacency in the workplace?

In the workplace, complacency is when you become so confident in your work that you take potentially risky shortcuts, don’t perform to the same standard as you once did, or fail to notice shortcomings. In fields like construction and healthcare, where it’s crucial to stay vigilant and very aware of workplace hazards or need to provide the best possible care for someone else’s medical condition, complacency can be a more serious problem.

Tips for changing complacent behavior

If you notice your team acting complacently, use the following advice to encourage them to alter their behavior:

Teach self-awareness

By helping your staff become more self-aware, you can reduce or even get rid of complacent behavior. Being more cognizant of one’s own behaviors, characteristics, and skills is a sign of self-awareness. If your employees are more self-aware, they will be able to better understand their own behavior and be willing to be evaluated for how well they are carrying out their duties. To encourage self-awareness, you can do things like:

Reinforce the companys values

Company values are an essential component of business operations, but after being introduced to them during orientation, it is possible for employees to lose sight of the values. Look for ways to regularly communicate the company’s values and to emphasize how important they are to the operation of the company. As an illustration, you might share tales of workers who successfully uphold the company’s values while describing the outcomes. Consider holding interactive training sessions that emphasize the organization’s values or putting in place a program that allows staff members to commend one another for upholding those values.

Change routines

Often, complacency comes from being in a routine. While many workers may prefer a routine so that their days are predictable and they can advance in their roles, routine can occasionally cause someone to become so comfortable that they stop thinking about the risks of their work or how their duty is an essential component of the company. The routine adjustment could be minor, such as adding a new task to an employee’s day, or more significant, such as a temporary schedule adjustment. A change of scenery encourages workers to approach their work from a new angle.

Encourage job shadowing

One way to change routine is by introducing job shadowing. Additional advantages of job shadowing include cross-training for employees and the chance for staff to appreciate the efforts of others. It can be inspiring to simply be around a peer who is meticulous and does their job well. Additionally, strengthening interdepartmental ties can increase employee satisfaction and company loyalty.

Build an effective coaching program

A coaching program can assist in keeping staff motivated and on task. Examine how you can be consistent in your messaging, provide feedback to everyone involved in coaching, and foster unity as everyone completes coaching together to build a coaching program for your staff. Additionally, it’s critical that you probe employees’ performance and attitudes toward their jobs, then offer refresher training so that staff can receive encouraging feedback.

Perform risk assessments

Regular risk assessments can serve as a reminder to staff members to be vigilant about their work and to be aware of potential hazards in the workplace. Employees can participate in risk assessments by switching who conducts them each month so that everyone has a chance to do the work and learn more about any risks in their workplace.

Offer incentives

Offering incentives to workers who aren’t complacent and instead exhibit strong attention to detail, passion for their work, and a willingness to accept constructive criticism may be a good idea because incentives are natural motivators. Rewards can take the form of bonuses, additional paid time off, and public acclaim for a job well done.

Allow for workplace transparency

Workplace transparency keeps employees interested in their jobs and the company, and it also builds their trust in it. As much as you can, give employees the transparency they want, and you might find that their motivation to perform well increases, which translates to their actual performance. Employees who are engaged tend to focus more intently on their work, work better as a team, and care about the success of their employer.

Review employees goals

Additionally, you can lessen complacency by discussing your employees’ goals on a regular basis. This not only highlights the duties of the workforce, but it also highlights their significance to the company’s success. Employees are more likely to increase the quantity and quality of their work—and, for those in the construction or other industries, to remain safe at work—when they have a sense of worth and understand the value of their work.


How do you deal with complacency at work?

  1. 5 Steps to Curb Complacency In the Workplace.
  2. Bring your company’s values to life. …
  3. Mix up your routines. …
  4. Increase workers’ self-awareness. …
  5. Incorporate changes that allow workers to stay focused. …
  6. Teach and guide employees through coaching.

What is complacent behavior?

1: characterized by complacency: self-satisfied, a complacent smile; especially when accompanied by ignorance of actual threats or shortcomings. 2 : complaisant sense 1 complacent flattery. 3 : unconcerned.

Why is complacency bad in the workplace?

Complacency at work can result in or help facilitate critical errors that raise the risk of injury from failing to focus on the task at hand, entering a danger zone, or losing one’s footing, traction, or grip. Always examine equipment, procedures and the hazards that may exist.

What are signs of complacency?

10 Signs You Might Be Complacent
  • You never feel scared or nervous. …
  • You aren’t learning. …
  • You aren’t challenging yourself. …
  • Your life is a constant routine. …
  • You reject change. …
  • You feel stuck/stagnant. …
  • You don’t try anything new. …
  • You are totally predictable.

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