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Managing Unhappy Employees



Whether you are a small business owner or a large organisation department leader, from time to time you will need to manage unhappy employees.


Why is it important to address the mindset of your employees?  Put simply, productivity equals profit and a downturn in efficiency can affect your businesses bottom line, as well as impact your other employees.


Before you can address this issue, you need to recognise signs of an unhappy staff member:


  • They may be just doing the minimum required in their role
  • Random sick days with no real cause may be on the increase
  • You’ve noticed they no longer care about customer satisfaction
  • Complaining about anything and everything may be now the norm
  • They no longer contribute during team meetings
  • The employee may be disrespectful to management and colleagues


So what can you do?  Consider the following:


Meet up

Schedule a one on one and welcome feedback in order to address any small or large workplace issues.  In addition, be ready to hear reasons such as personal or family problems which may be affecting an employees’ happiness.  You may need to offer to arrange counseling.  Schedule follow-up meetings.


Add interest

An employee may be feeling disinterested because their job no longer presents a challenge. If possible, expand their duties to offer more mental stimulation and discuss their career goals should your organisation be able to provide the scope to fulfill their career aspirations.


Recognise burnout

If an employee has been working long hours for a long period of time to complete a project, ensure they have a break after its completion.  Equally, try and improve efficiency through new workplace practices or technology to ensure staff is not working back on a regular basis.


Address skills issues

An employee may be feeling unhappy as they feel out of their depth in their role. Ensure they receive the required training and you could pair them up with a staff member who can help them get on track.


Recognise the reason

If someone has been missed out on a promotion they may be feeling disengaged.  Ensure you address this issue by discussing their strengths, offering training and encouragement, but be careful not to make any promises you may not be able to keep.


Let them go

If the issue is work related and you have tried all you can in your capacity and nothing has shown an effect, or if you realise that the employee just toxic, make the decision to let them go.  Ensure from the commencement of the issue you have kept written records of your meetings and given the appropriate warnings, while you adhere strictly to workplace law.


Unhappy employees can affect workplace morale, provide an inferior level of customer service and reduce productivity in the workplace. 


Understanding the cause of your employees’ unhappiness may give you the opportunity to solve the issue or at least understand if it is work related or personal, and if it could long or short term.


If you are looking to hire a replacement, or find a new career, check out now.