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The warning signs of an unhappy employee

Photo courtesy of Victor1558
Photo courtesy of Victor1558

Everyone wants a job he or she enjoys, a job that does not feel like a job. Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” It is important to mention not everyone who works in their chosen profession has taken this career route because of their love of the profession. Some employees work for the company simply to pay the bills and to keep a roof over their head and there is nothing wrong with that. However, it is important for employers to be aware of employee morale and look for the warning signs of an unhappy employee.

Plain and simple, unhappy employees are bad for morale and not pleasant to be around. If you are an employer or supervisor, one of your goals should be to cultivate an environment that is productive and pleasant. Most employers or supervisors are not aware that they have unhappy employees; either that or they choose to ignore the problem hoping it will correct itself. While a happy employee can be the team’s best cheerleader, an unhappy employee can bring teamwork to a screeching halt.

Unhappy employees are not born overnight; something is amiss. Here are some common warning signs of an unhappy employee:

Constantly calling in sick and leaving early. A noticeable increase in the number of times an employee calls in sick, or asks to leave early is usually a sign that the employee is just not happy, and is looking for any excuse not to be there. When an employee is happy, you almost have to force them to use their vacation and sick time. On the other hand, unhappy employees have usually exhausted all time off benefits well in advance of their “use them or lose them” date.

He or she constantly complains about small issues.If the employee tends to voice their complaints repeatedly about things that have nothing to do with them performing their job, then this is another sign of an unhappy employee. Employees that complain nonstop about small issues such as the copier being out of paper, or there being no cream in the staff lounge probably has a bigger issue than paper and creamer. This employee will seize any opportunity to complain and bring morale down. A happy employee on the other hand will refill the paper in the copier and not think any more of it.

The employee displays negative body language and lack of recognition. You almost hate to look in the direction of this person especially in staff meetings because; they are usually sitting there, arms folded, with a scowl on their face. However, this is an improvement over the last encounter. The last time, they rolled their eyes and did not respond to your question. A happy employee will come to the meeting with pen and paper in hand ready to take notes; the happy employee will also acknowledge you when you address them, often with a smile on their face.

They constantly turn in unacceptable and late work.Once very thorough and accurate, the unhappy employee is now turning in subpar and late work riddled with mistakes. This behavior alone should be a glaring indication that there is trouble in paradise. A happy employee would never turn in something late or incomplete; the happy employee would stay in constant communication with you about deadlines.

Now what do you do to remedy the situation

The first step to finding a solution to the problem is to sit down and talk to the employee. Make it a point to listen to their gripes and to respond accordingly. Be careful not to promise the employee anything that you cannot deliver. If the reason the employee is, unhappy has something to do with you, and your management style, listen carefully and try not to take it personally. Try to work on the issues, and if you cannot resolve anything right away, ask the employee to give you a little time to get it all resolved.

If the working relationship is at all salvageable, it is a good idea to get to the root of the problem rather than dismiss or terminate the employee because of lack of performance. The employee will more than likely come out of the meeting in a better frame of mind and be willing to start over with a renewed attitude.

One important thing to remember about unhappy employees is that they like to take hostages, they do not want to be the only one that is unhappy, and so they will voice their displeasure to other employees. If you do not resolve the problem with this one employee, you may soon be facing more discord amongst your staff. Communication is a key component to happy and productive employees.


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