Are Your Employees Miserable?

In a four percent unemployment market, keeping your employees happy is particularly important. To stay ahead of the workload, employers must pay close attention to how satisfied their employees are, or run the risk of losing them to a competitor.

An unhappy employee can spread negativity among the workforce, breeding discontent, which can affect retention and even the relationship you have with clients. But how can employers even know when an employee is unhappy? What are the signs to look for, and what can you do to fix the problem?

Top Signs of Employee Unhappiness

When it comes to employee retention, it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for. Some people wear their discontent on their sleeve, so it’s easy to spot when they’re upset and take steps to re-engage them – or let them go if what’s broken can’t be repaired. Some of the more subtle signs of employee dissatisfaction include:

  • Productivity Drops
    Look for employee efficiency to take a nosedive if workers are unhappy. Key signs include the overachiever that drops back to a normal workload or the steady employee that just isn’t anymore.
  • Absences and Tardiness
    When employees are unhappy they just don’t want to be there anymore. This can lead to tardiness or leaving early, days off sick, and a host of excuses as to why they can’t make it in. Unhappy employees will also seek ways to leave early when and if they can. All these signs are red flags for companies to pay attention to.
  • Disengaging from Company Events
    Employees that like their jobs will spend extra time getting to know their team. This takes the form of a happy hour after work or company-sponsored after-hours events. Many people have commitments at home that make it hard for them to attend all of these events, but they may make one here and there. But if the life of the party suddenly drops out of after-hours events, there may be a problem.
  • Disengaging at Work
    Employees that don’t interact with others at the job and just keep to themselves are likely unhappy. Team members that interact in positive ways with coworkers instead of being aloof are probably happier on the job. Studies tell us that employee engagement is correlated to the work friendships they cultivate. If formerly gregarious employees withdraw, there’s something wrong.

Now that you have a sense of how to spot employee unhappiness, how can an employer fix the problem and re-engage worker relationships that have stalled?

Improving Employee Happiness at Work

The best way to fix an unhappy work environment is to first find out what’s making employees upset. A Gallup poll said some of the most common issues that often need fixing include:

  • Being treated with respect and having trust between employers and employees.
  • Compensation and benefits and the perceived stability of the organization.
  • Perceived job security.
  • Opportunities to use job skills and develop new ones.
  • The relationship with the employee’s immediate supervisor.


All of these issues can be reparable unless the employee has disengaged completely from the team. But spotting employee unhappiness, and then addressing issues head-on is the best way to repair a broken employer/employee relationship.


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