Most UK workers have no idea where their working life is going and spend more time planning their social lives than their careers, a survey has suggested.
The result is that they are more inclined to risk taking redundancy, be overlooked for promotion and miss out on pay rises, said the study by HR consultancy Chiumento.
The study of more than 1,000 people, entitled Career Control, paints a picture of UK workers as disorganised and unmotivated, with a lack of planning leading to stagnant job roles and salary ruts.
Job moves are made without adequate forethought and lead to a succession of unfulfilling roles.
For many, career planning is often a knee-jerk reaction, with employees spurred into action as a last resort when bored, made redundant or needing more money.
Just only one in five workers had a clear idea of where their career was going, and nearly half of those who switched jobs without adequate planning ended up dissatisfied or with little direction.
Nearly a third who switched found themselves in less satisfying jobs than before.
Worryingly, 36 per cent believed they had been made redundant as a result of career apathy.
A further 30 per cent believed they'd missed out on promotions because they hadn't put enough time and effort into career planning and 27 per cent felt they'd missed out on a pay rise for the same reason.
The majority knew they should actively plan their careers yet nearly half said they put more effort into their social lives.
Six out of 10 only thought about a change when bored or frustrated, while 39 per cent thought about their career only when forced to through redundancy or because they needed more money.
If redundancy were to strike, 38 per cent felt unprepared to be on the job market again and 44 per cent would not know what to do next.
Even those with experience of redundancy said they felt ill-equipped and lacked courage at the prospect, with 31 per cent feeling unprepared and more than a quarter saying they would not know what to do next
Nearly a third of those polled thought it was their boss's role to provide a clear career path, believing more training, opportunities in other departments or a sympathetic ear would help them to get on.
"This is a wake-up call to employees to get their careers on track or risk losing out," said Sarah Chiumento, Chiumento chief executive.
"Workers need to be more proactive or they will jeopardise their chances to get on or move into something new.
"However, the buck doesn't stop with them. Employers also have an obligation to provide career paths for their staff by making work challenging and providing regular opportunities for training and development.
"Keeping staff engaged and motivated will keep boredom – and underperformance – at bay," she added.