identify dissatisfied employees

Unhappy at Work: How to Identify Dissatisfied Employees

By Nathan Sharpe

One of the most important factors that define the success of an organization is the productivity of its employees. Happy employees are productive employees which means increased business results. It’s the skills of the employees that keep the business running.

A poll by Gallup found that out of the world’s one billion full-time workers, only 15% of them are engaged at work. If employees are unhappy or disengaged with their jobs, their performance can be detrimental to the overall business environment and can hinder the growth of any company.

For a small business owner who only has the capability to maintain a limited staff, it is more crucial to have each team member contented and thriving in the company. So what are the signs that can indicate an employee may not be satisfied with his work any longer?

Here are seven warning signs to look out for when you are trying to identify dissatisfied employees.

They Are Always Missing-In-Action

Happy employees look forward to going to work because they see themselves as an integral part of the business. However, an unhappy employee would rather be elsewhere than the office.

Poor Attendance

A noticeable increase in absences, sick leaves and personal time can be an obvious sign that the employee is dissatisfied with his job. Not showing up without prior notice means that the employee does not care what will happen to his tasks in his absence. This can cost a company a lot of money especially for small businesses that usually only have a single employee doing a specialised job role.

Tardiness and Clock Watching

Another sign that an employee is not happy at the workplace is if he suddenly develops a chronic tardiness syndrome and starts leaving the office on the dot. Disgruntled employees dread being in the office longer than necessary.

Always Unavailable at Their Stations

It is quite an accepted fact that caffeine powers a lot of businesses. Amazingly, in June 2015 alone, world coffee exports amounted to 9.69 million bags, making coffee one of the world’s top commodities. There’s no doubt that office break rooms contributed to greatly to that number of bags.

In fact, most colleagues strengthen their work relationships during coffee break times.

However, if an employee is getting coffee multiple times a day instead of being in his work station during business hours, then this is another warning sign that an employer must look into. Dissatisfied employees make any excuse to escape work including taking several coffee breaks or extended lunches out.

They Are Missing Deadlines

Employees who are displeased with their work situation become inconsiderate about delivering on time. They are not bothered if important work gets done or not. This can be damaging especially for a small business who has to continuously provide excellent service to its clients.

They Are Always Complaining

Is the office too cold? Or is the lunch room too small? Maybe the deadlines are too unreasonable or the client is being irrational.

These are just some examples of complaints that can be heard from unhappy employees. Employee complaints are a natural part of a business environment and can even help a small business in implementing positive changes.

However, if too many complaints are coming from the same employee or the same group of employees, then an employer must start to look deeper into the root of the problem.

They Are Breaking Basic Office Rules

Every organization has standard rules everyone is expected to observe. Even the most relaxed companies follow a set of guidelines to create a sense of order. If an employee starts to become unconcerned about these rules, it can be a sign that he is rebelling towards the company.

This can be as simple as not following the dress code or as major as not carrying out the correct finance procedures. Repeated offenses should be taken into account when dealing with the employee.

They Keep to Themselves and Start Arguments with Colleagues

A healthy working relationship with colleagues is an important factor in what makes an employee happy in his job. If an employee starts keeping to himself, being secretive, and suddenly starts refusing work-related events, then this can indicate that there is something wrong.

A disgruntled employee is also more likely to argue with colleagues and create difficult, tense situations. The cause of this behavior may be something personal but a manger must still intervene as this kind of attitude can lower the morale of other staff members.

They Rarely Speak Up

When an employee is pleased with his current job, he will always be brimming with ideas and will continuously provide his insights on how to help improve the business.

Unhappy employees, however, stop being proactive. They are slow, if not reluctant, to give constructive feedback during meetings and brainstorming sessions. If an employee is no longer interested in his job, he would prefer to just sit quietly and burn the hours until his presence is no longer required.

They Look Physically Stressed and Weary

Sometimes employees do not need to say anything for an employer to notice signs of dissatisfaction. Disgruntled employees will stop putting in an effort to look fresh and presentable at the workplace. They may even arrive at client meetings looking exhausted and distraught, which can be a poor reflection of the company’s professionalism.

Other visual cues such as excessive sighing, looking tense and always showing signs of fatigue can signal an employee’s state of mind.

What’s the Solution?

It is very important for an employer to recognize these signs of employee dissatisfaction.  Most of the time, business owners are caught up in sales figures and targets that they often choose to ignore employee concerns.

Once some of these signs start to exhibit in the workplace, an employer must take steps in order to understand what’s causing these issues. Scheduling one-on-one talks instead of just giving out memos is preferable. Warning memos that serve as a reprimand will not solve the problem, rather, these may just worsen the situation.

After knowing the cause of the employee’s behavior, the employer must be open minded to assess if the change needs to come from the management or from the individual employee.

There is no template solution because each employee will have different reactions and satisfaction levels. However, an employer must be committed in taking action because such displays of dissatisfaction can affect the overall morale and productivity of a business.

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Nathan Sharpe
Nathan Sharpe is the entrepreneur behind Biznas, a blog where he serves practical business advice and tips to readers. Learning and helping others learn is his passion.

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