Karin’s Leadership Articles

It’s a Tragedy When Employees Stop Caring: Try These 5 Techniques for Better Employee Engagement

When I was in my sales and customer service executive roles, whenever I needed a pick-me-up, I would go talk to the new hire classes.

They’re fired up, full of ambition, and ready to serve.

“Raise your hand if you’re looking to be promoted into management.”

Every hand in the room goes up.

Sadly, in many companies, something happens along the way.

Talk to the same group a year in, and the sentiment is not quite the same. Just why does that happen?



Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Billy Blixt

    Hey Karen!! I just had to post… recently my husband started working for this great company. He was so excited when he got hired and had an amazing new hire experience. Once he graduated out of new hire, his schedule put him on the worst performing team in the company. He wasn’t on that team for 2 weeks and he was ready to quit and leave all the hard work and education simply because of a terrible supervisor. She didn’t work with her team and thus they were not performing for her. Luckily he was able to do a mini-bid and transfer to another better performing team where the supervisor is highly engaged with her team. He is doing much better now however still has moments of concern thinking back to that terrible supervisor he had.

    I think bad leadership can derail the best of new hire experiences and can really hurt the company overall b/c they are losing really good employees only to keep terrible supervisors in place. Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to comment! Love your blog!!

    • Karin Hurt

      Billy, So awesome to hear from you! Thanks for sharing your husband’s story. It’s amazing the impact that one bad supervisor can have…. she clearly needs to start reading my blog 😉 I’m really glad he took control of his career and found a way to move to another team.

  2. JLL

    Hey Karen, can’t wait to see what others comment on this. It really hits home for me. IMHO, new hires are not adequately trained, but expected to perform as though they have been; they are micromanaged without explanation or instruction, their suggestions fall on deaf ears (we’ve always done it THIS way), they are publicly humiliated, and they see no real career pathway despite recruiting promises.

    • Karin Hurt

      JLL, Thanks so much for sharing your experience. It seems like there is a real opportunity here to make a massive impact with your new hire experience. The first 90 days lay the foundation for engagement. Even small improvements in this process could help. Please call me if you think i can help. 443 750 1249. It makes me so sad to hear stories like this.

  3. Steve Borek

    Employees stop caring for many reasons: Their values are not in alignment with the company, boss, etc. They chose the job for the wrong reasons. They work for a horrible boss. To name a few.

  4. Kelly Wise

    I can think of several reasons that people stop caring. When managers fail to recognize the unique attributes of an employee and encourage them to use those strengths in the workplace, the employee will be reduced to the bot world. I have also seen a total lack of manager sensitivity to the cues the employee is giving, often loud and clear, about wanting to do more, be developed or mentored. After a while, the employee will back down, regress toward the mean, and potential is lost due to lack of attention, or preconceived notions of where that employee fits. Finally, when management makes decisions impulsively, not considering long term, downstream, radial impacts, only to take back decisions or consider them failed without adequate planning or follow through, employee/staff confidence in leadership is lost and who wants to advance in that kind of system anyway. Again, the employee will be driven by apathy, stick to the playbook, rule-bound, fly under the radar, disengage. Story over, sad.

  5. Catherine Bridges

    I can think of several reasons employees stop caring. Starting with no longer feeling valued. Sales people need to feel valued. They crave that recognition. After all sales is about that the spot light and how brightly one shines. Another reason is changes in compensation. Nothing will make a sales person bolt for the door faster that management finding a way to reduce their pay. Either by shrinking their territory, putting a cap on a bonus or restructuring it all together making it harder to achieve. Lastly and a big one for me is for the company not to deliver on their promise to the customer. Nothing is worse than having a customer call you after you managed to gain their trust only to be told that your company did not deliver. Super Sales people are worth their weight in gold. If a company does not abide by the unsaid rules of the sales game then their turnover and profits will begin to cost them.

  6. LaRae Quy

    Great question, Karin!

    As I thought about this, I kept coming back to the word “hope.” New hires are full of hope for their future and where the new job can take them. Part of that hope dissipates for a couple of reasons:

    First, this is not their dream job. Their expectations could be too high, or more often, they are still searching for that perfect place. Whether it doesn’t exist or just not with this company is another thing…

    Second, expectations on both sides were not realistic. Everyone loves the hype and energy that comes from looking at the bright side. But, clear expectations on the part of both parties is essential so that everyone knows what is expected 1 year down the line. This means honest communication from the onset, not at the first performance appraisal.

  7. ALM

    I have been with my company for 22 years. It took me 8 years to get promoted to the position I now hold. I come in early and stay late, whatever is needed to make sure my customers are taken care of, never call in sick or miss work. A new hire, that’s just been here 1 yr was just promoted to the same position because “that’s the job title they held at their previous employer”. They work only what is required, barely 40 hrs a week and miss work often. When they cover for me, their work is about 50% incorrect even after multiple efforts to train. It’s demoralizing.

    • David Dye

      Situations like this can be very frustrating. One approach you might take (to ensure that your performance is being valued and contributing in the way you want it to) is to have a conversation with your manager about your goals and aspirations and asking what you need to do to achieve those.

      You might also ask about your manager’s goals, how your work contributes, and any performance feedback that could help you be more effective.

      You don’t mention what the role you were promoted to entails, but if it is a leadership or management role, one place to focus is on the overall performance of your team. Putting in long hours and avoiding sick time are laudable, but they are a foundation on which you would build your influence, strategic problem-solving, team performance, and accountability.

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