Are You A Transactional Employee?

I’ve had a lot of jobs because I leave most jobs very quickly once I stop caring about them. Once I check-out mentally, I look for something else and move on. I never learned to put my head down and keep doing something that I hated to do just for the sake of continuing to do it. This is a mixed blessing. The negative part of it is that I haven’t built a name for myself at any one company. I’ve passed through so many doors and met so many people that I haven’t really made a huge impact on any one organization.

The positive side is that I have never become a transactional employee – a drone from sector 7-G who performs a function for a company while earning an income without thought of or action to improve life. For me, work is almost always about having fun, developing some skill or ability, or being able to find a state of flow in the moment.

Signs that you are starting to become a transactional employee:

  • Clock watching – you are painfully aware of the time, you know exactly how long it will be before you leave. Your mind is out the door and thinking about the after work stuff well before your body leaves the building.
  • There is an unexplained decrease in the quality or quantity of your work. You start to make mistakes that you wouldn’t normally make, you begin to table today’s items to tomorrow, you sign-off on or submit work that you know isn’t up to your standard. Your attention is no longer on the task as hand and your willing to pass sub-par work off as acceptable quality.
  • Your talk with co-workers isn’t neutral or positive about work or you find yourself connecting with the office / work place gossip or complainer. Misery love miserable company and you find the other people who share your level of dissatisfaction. This only serves to foster a larger sense of resentment for your employer and your job. It also alienates those around you who remain fully engaged in their jobs.
  • You start sending out resumes for other job opportunities. ANYTHING looks better than what you are doing regardless of what it is. You are open to changing careers and moving into something for which you are unsuited or unqualified.
  • There is an increase in the amount of escape behaviours in which you engage; both while at work and while you are not. These can range from things that are simply a waste of time – Internet, excessive trips to the bathroom or unnecessary breaks – but it can include things that are harmful like drinking in excess, an increase in the number of smoke breaks, or pursuit of new sexual partners.
  • If you are in a salaried position, you begin to count every hour and minute you spend working. You develop a sense of persecution and begin to collect evidence that validates this belief. You continue to loss perspective and use this “evidence” to further develop your sense of disengagement.
  • You feel bitterness or resentment towards your bosses or coworkers. What used to be good interactions begin to be negative and hostile. Their attitude towards you begins to change to reflect your negative approach to work and them and you start to take this as further proof that work is crap and they are lousy people to work with.

There is nothing wrong with trading your time for money so being or becoming a transactional employee is fine as long as it isn’t hurting the quality of your life. It becomes a problem when you change from being highly engaged to disengaged as this is a symptom of a fundamental shift in your personality. If you find yourself showing any of the above behaviours it is probably time to examine your career or job choice.