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Understanding Detached Engagement in the Workplace

Posted By: Trish Cunningham on March 16, 2022

For years, we’ve been taught that the harder you work, the more likely you are to get ahead. That may have meant working long hours, grinding on every detail, and being obsessed with your job.

However, recent studies suggest that turning down your passion a few notches can actually make you better. It’s called detached engagement.


Detached engagement sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s actually a highly coveted quality that recruiters are paying attention to today. It refers to the idea that an employee is able to maintain a certain detachment from work while still deeply caring for it and performing optimally.

Here’s why detached engagement is important:

It’s Liberating

When employees practice detached engagement at the workplace, it’s akin to unlocking a new form of freedom. They’re able to put aside their emotions and judgments about various tasks and use their energy and efforts to produce the desired results. It also removes the co-dependency attached to results. Instead of letting the fear of failure hold them back, they’re able to recognize the fact that things may not always go as per plan and that they can only do their best.

Detached engagement also helps shape an employee’s perspective about their work. We often tend to view ourselves as a product of the work we do instead of the other way around. The nature or success of a task can take a toll on our self-esteem, making us view negative outcomes as failure on our part. Through detached engagement, we can shift the narrative and recognize the true relationship between our work and ourselves. It helps us realize that whatever work we do comes from us, but it doesn’t define us.

It Helps You Focus

Detached engagement enables employees to focus on their goals. It helps them see the bigger picture and encourages a more collaborative environment, allowing for the best possible results.

Think of it this way: You’re asked to do a task you’ve never done before and you want to prove yourself to your supervisor. In your attempt to make a good impression, you choose to handle everything yourself despite feeling underequipped. As a result, you refuse help and make mistakes that could’ve been avoided had you reached out to your peers.

Detached engagement allows you to get the best possible results without being swarmed by the thoughts of what everyone may think of you if you fail or ask for help. It helps you focus on your actual goal, i.e., getting the job done.

woman establishing boundaries

It Helps Establish Boundaries

Finally, detached engagement helps you say “no” as and when necessary. Many people struggle to maintain healthy boundaries because they can’t say no to their peers or supervisors. As a result, they often have too much on their plate and are stressed about the multiple things that need to be done.

By practicing detached engagement, an employee is able to realistically assess how much they can manage. It allows them to communicate clearly when they don’t have the capacity or the qualifications to perform a particular task. Instead of hastily accepting more work and doing a poor job at it, they’re able to suggest an alternative and lend their support in whatever way possible.

Our team at Brookwoods Group helps organizations find candidates who can be detached from and engaged in their work so that they can add value from day one. Our top recruiting firm in Houston finds the right-fit professionals for your team and screens them for qualification and cultural fit with your organization.

Get in touch with our executive staffing agency in Austin today to learn how we can find the best professionals to help move your business forward.