If all of your employees were happy all of the time, running a company would be a lot easier. Unfortunately, odds are, at least one of your employees will ultimately become dissatisfied with their job and bring a bad attitude into the workplace. These problem employees can be deadly for team morale and company productivity. According to a recent survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more employees are quitting their jobs and they’re coming from a wide variety of industries. As leaders, it is essential that you know the pulse of your organization, as the cost to the business is staggering and the future viability of the company could be at-risk.
What’s more, today’s employee mix spans across multiple generations, ranging from Boomers and Generation’s X’s to Y’s and Z’s. It should seem obvious that the workplace preferences of a 55-year-old company veteran will vary from those of a 20-year-old newcomer – but, with so many generational factors coming into play, it’s nearly impossible for an employer to create and implement a “one-size-fits-all” strategy that cultivates a mutually agreed upon “happy” work environment points out Michelle Prince, Senior Vice President, Talent Management, North America of Randstad USA. Therefore, flexibility in the workplace has become an important factor to meet the multigenerational preferences and expectations. Without flexibility, leaders run the risk of an “unhappy” workplace.
“With an improving job market and more companies gradually returning to their recruiting cycles, worker confidence has increased and more options are appearing on the horizon,” says Lisa Frame-Jacobson, Founder and President of Feature Talent Builders, a national business coaching, search, staffing and training firm. “Add to this the fact that it is easier than ever for other organizations and recruiters to find your employees and work relentlessly to lure them away. It’s important that you don’t get caught in an employee exodus when you have valuable insight to gain right now.”
In an imperfect world, it is impossible to keep all the employees happy at the same time. It has usually been found that at least one of your employees will develop dissatisfaction with their job which will result in them turning their bad attitude in the workplace. The problem with unhappy employees is that they can really have an adverse effect on team morale and company productivity. But how do you know if your employees are unhappy? Most of them aren’t going to come straight out and say it, but if you are paying attention, the signs are there. Here are the red flags to watch out for
- Absenteeism – though a valid health issue could impact attendance in a negative manner that has nothing to do with how happy or unhappy the employee feels with their workplace.
- Employees are not engaged in professional development opportunities that are offered by the company and that would increase their chances of an internal promotion.
- Negative social media comments: while not a statistical measure, certainly good to be aware of what is being said about your company as one piece of feedback
- The Employee Referral Program, if it exists in the company, is not fueling the pipeline of new talent to interview. This could be signifying that employees don’t want their friends, family or colleagues to work in your environment.
- Decreased productivity and quality outcomes: Low customer satisfaction scores. Employee satisfaction survey results score low on a few key areas: The value employees place on their direct supervisor/manager relationship, recognition for their work, and a clear line of sight to their internal career path that is supported by more than one internal champion.
- People don’t look like they are having fun – or simply look unhappy. Observing the body language as you walk around various teams and departments on a variety of days and multiple times throughout a month proves invaluable. Looks of frustration, anger, boredom and other indicators of dissatisfaction are telling. Many employees arriving at work looking like it took every last shred of their being to make it in and appear overall slow in getting into the day’s activities Increase in the number of employee relations matters.
- They do not participate in team activities outside the office – When employees are content with their jobs, they don’t mind spending some extra time to know their colleagues in a better way. While it is not possible for them to attend each and every company happy hour, they will show up in at least some of them.
- Their productivity goes for a toss in a short period of time. If you notice one of your employees who used to do lots of work is no longer producing the work at the same rate, it might be due to the fact that the employee is unhappy with the work. Depending on the amount of productivity that has been plummeted, they might have already mentally signed out of working in your organization.
- They do not open up with colleagues at work. It has generally been observed that coworkers are one of the major reasons that drive employee happiness. If one of your employees who used to be conversant during team meetings has suddenly gone silent, or if one of your employees who has started ignoring conversations with other colleagues, there is a chance that they might be unhappy with their job.
- They do not share new ideas or offer feedback during the meetings. Unhappy employees on the other hand, simply want to leave the meeting room as soon as possible. They do not believe in giving any constructive feedback. Even if they speak up in a team meeting it might be to tear off another employee’s ideas instead of sharing new valuable ideas for the betterment of the organization.
Dealing with Unhappy Employees
Always remember one unhappy employee can bring down the morale of the entire organization. Don’t let that happen to your organization. Intervene the moment you find that any of your employees are no longer happy. The sooner you address the problem, the more likely you will be able to resolve it before it spikes out of control. Have you seen any of the signs mentioned in this blog in any of your employees? If so, it might be the right time to take immediate action to rectify the situation. Try these methods:
Listen To the Complains Of Your Employees
Pull together your complaints and issues that your employees have and try to deal with them in a thoughtful and respectful manner. The key to a successful conversation like this is to not just complain but to offer solutions of how the situation can be resolved. If, for instance, your employees feel underutilized, clearly explain then it is clearly not the case. Then suggest ways to improve the situation, such as offering projects that would be a good fit for them.
Give Them New Challenges
Design new challenges for your unhappy employees. A common cause of workplace unhappiness is a lack of cohesiveness or chemistry with your manager or coworkers. If the environment is hurting the sentiments of any of your employee, it is best to move them to another area. In fact, not getting along with a boss is the leading cause of people leaving their current positions. Many organizations, especially larger companies, like to keep employees and move them to different departments instead of taking the time and money to hire a completely new employee.
Have One To One Discussions With Unhappy Employees
Schedule a 1:1 meeting with your employee and talk about what’s going on. Ask what you can do to help improve their attitude. Consider letting them pursue a pet project so they gain a sense of ownership. Let them know what the consequences will be if their behavior doesn’t change.
Have you seen any of the signs mentioned in this blog in any of your employees? If so, it might be the right time to take immediate action to rectify the situation. Schedule a one-on-one meeting with the unhappy employee and ask what is going on. Recommend the different things that they can do to improve their attitude during work. Give them a pet project so that they gain a sense of ownership. Warn them about the consequences they will face if their attitude towards work does not change.
Also try to find out what is making the employee unhappy. It can be the company culture or management style. The answer that you find out can help you uncover any underlying issues in your organization. You can even ask employees to participate in an anonymous survey to find out the exact problem bubbling within the organization.