Feeling Underutilised At Work (Part 2): Take action now

In part 1 of this series article, we discussed the signs that you’re underutilised at work.

You used to be highly productive at work.

But suddenly, you notice that you have lesser service time and more downtime.

They stop calling you to meetings.

You find yourself surfing the Internet at the office more often than working on something office-related.

You’re barely receiving phone calls or emails.

Even your boss does not remember that you still exist.

If you noticed most of the above happening, then you might just be relegated to the zone of employee underutilised at work.

Before you press the panic button, it is wise to discover how you got there in the first place.

  • Introspection should be your first reaction.
  • Have you been amiss with specific responsibilities at work?
  • Could this be the result of office politics?
  • Were you underperforming for one too many times?
  • Has there been an employee or company movement that you did not get the memo on?

Here are 3 actions you can take this instant to deal with your situation and stop feeling underutilised at work.

1. Ask questions regarding your feeling of being underutilised at work

Asking questions is the only way for you to confirm your suspicions.

There is nothing wrong with asking about your status in your office.

There may be something going on around that you are not aware of.

Your company may be downsizing.

There may be a realignment of groups within your department.

Or your company may have been sold to a larger firm.

Make an informal meeting appointment with your superior to find out more.

There may be larger issues at the company level for your downtime.

And management is still biding its time before making its pronouncement.

So as you can see, there may be a million and one reasons, and the only effective way to find out is to ask.

2. Find new ways to be useful and be utilised

Sometimes, it could just be as simple as an understaffed situation. Therefore, management may have overlooked individual employees.

Typically happens to a fast-paced environment, competitive market or significant changes happening.

Likewise, it could be that you are in between projects, and your superior has yet to assign you a new one.

Given the lull in your work, take the time to improve yourself.

For example, you can learn new skills so that you can repackage yourself. Make yourself eligible for a bigger and more significant project. Perhaps, a leadership role in your next career level.

You can also attend seminars on process improvement. Or even enrol in short-term courses on technical writing. Perhaps take lessons in photography or whatever learning that will make you more valuable to the company.

Whatever that new skill set is, align it with the company vision and goals.

This way, you can impress your superiors with self-initiative.

3. Be ready for anything

The reasons behind you feeling underutilised at work could be endless.

At best, maybe the leaders are preparing you for a big break like a promotion or big projects.

The worst possible case scenario is that you are about to be let go.

Such is the case in Singapore where layoffs rose by 20% to 15,580 due to the global economic slowdown in 2015.

It happens in Canada and the US as well.

Whatever your present situation may be, take the opportunity to prepare for the worst.

You may begin scouting for opportunities elsewhere.

Research possible business opportunities that you may have been wanting to start.

If the situation does turn toward retrenchment, then at least you are prepared with a backup plan.

Be ready for anything that comes your way. This way, you’ll still be financially stable regardless of what happens next.


Remember that being underutilised is not the end of the world.

It may just be the change that you need to refresh your career.

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Amos Tay

Amos Tay

Amos Tay is the Senior Partner of Hatch Asia. He is a Gallup-Certified CliftonStrength Coach and lead our executive search, coaching and expand our partnership development across the region.

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