May 19, 2020

Is Employee Apathy a Danger to My Business?

Employee Morale
business practices
employee productivity
Bizclik Editor
3 min
Is Employee Apathy a Danger to My Business?

The May edition of The Business Review North America is now live!

By: K'Lee Banks

You have probably seen and heard them: employees in just about any store or business you go to who seem bothered by you, the customer, as you wait for service. They don’t seem to care that it’s supposed to be their job to provide good customer service—heck, ANY customer service, for that matter.

Then there are those employees who seem to constantly be negative about everything and everyone, and their negativity eventually brings down the morale of many other employees. They don’t seem happy about having a job, but they don’t leave, either.

So what is the problem?

What has happened to genuinely taking pride in one’s company or business, and caring about how one performs his or her job, as well as treating customers or clients well, who—after all—are rather essential to keeping a company running?

Apathy appears to be the culprit, and if any employees in YOUR company are apathetic, it could spell trouble and impending danger for the success of your business.

Warning Signs of Apathy

However you define apathy—boredom, lethargy, or simply indifference—if the workers in your company have it, you should take immediate action to address and correct it, as it is known to be contagious.

Even good, dedicated workers can sometimes become affected by apathy, once they realize they appear to be doing the majority of the work while their co-workers avoid it as often as possible. Some of the warning signs of apathy among your workers might include the following:

  • Standing or sitting around talking to one another, while ignoring assigned tasks, or worse, ignoring waiting customers.
  • Showing up late, frequently calling in “sick” or simply not showing up at all.
  • Taking extended breaks or more frequent “smoke” breaks.
  • Performing mandatory tasks in an obvious disinterested manner, sometimes accompanied by sighing, complaining, or expletives.
  • Doing the bare minimum to get the job done.
  • Remaining detached from forming working relationships with co-workers.
  • Engaging in non-work activities, such as surfing the Web, checking emails or engaging in social media activities, texting, making or taking personal phone calls, or simply daydreaming instead of being productive.

Strategies to Address and Correct Apathy

So once you’ve diagnosed the problem, what’s your next move?

Aside from firing all those workers who seem to have a perpetual case of apathy, you might try some of these strategies to address and correct apathy in your workers, as well as in the conditions contributing to apathy:

  • Demonstrate genuine interest in your workers by asking for feedback about the job, the tasks it involves, and whether or not your workers feel confident in their abilities to perform their jobs well.
  • Implement feedback by making changes whenever feasible.
  • Keep employees interested and engaged in their work; make changes as necessary, whenever possible, so the right employee fills a role that makes the best use of his or her skills.
  • Provide periodic workplace events or activities that offer co-workers a chance to mingle with one another on a casual basis.
  • Monitor workplace conditions for optimal comfort and productivity.
  • Reward workers in meaningful ways for work done well.
  • Provide training opportunities for employees to develop or expand their skill sets, with opportunities for advancement.

Build Team Spirit

What’s next?

Build team spirit among your workers. Make them feel they play a valuable role in the success of the business. Be approachable and listen to any reasonable suggestions your workers may have about how to make the business better, or even how to be a better boss.

Above all, make sure YOU don’t exhibit any apathy toward the business or your workers, but rather be a model for commitment, responsibility, and enthusiasm.

About the Author: As a prolific freelance writer since 2008, K'Lee Banks has written about numerous business topics, including small business ownership using a wireless credit card machine, and employee engagement.


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Jun 13, 2021

Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl

Kate Birch
5 min
Former CMO for IBM Americas Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl. Maria talks about her new role and her leadership style

Former Chief Marketing Officer for IBM Americas, and an IBM veteran of more than 25 years, Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl.

Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.

With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.

You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?

I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.

We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.

What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?

I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.

The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.

I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.

What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?

When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.

What does success look like to you?

I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.

What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?

I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.

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