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Signs of an Unhappy Employee

An unhappy employee sitting at a laptop looking upset with a man standing behind her.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” Your employees, however, are the ones you should always try to keep happy and engaged, because if they aren’t, your business could be in for some trouble.

How can you tell if you have an unhappy employee? Here are some telltale signs:
  1. Productivity Slips
    If you notice that an employee who used to go above and beyond in terms of work output is no longer producing at the same rate, you may have an unhappy employee.
  2. They Start Showing Up Late and Leaving Early
    While everyone needs a day off now and again to recharge, happy employees will look forward to being at work each morning because they believe in the work they’re doing and they love being around their coworkers. Unhappy employees dread showing up to work each day. They may even call in sick more often than is usual. If you notice one of your workers has started showing up late and leaving before quitting time on a regular basis, you need to do something.
  3. They Don’t Participate in Team Activities Outside of the Office
    Employees who aren’t happy in their jobs don’t want to spend time with coworkers outside of the office. If one of your employees never shows up to after-work events, they might be unhappy.
  4. They Keep to Themselves at Work
    According to TinyPulse’s 2017 Employee Engagement Report, when an employee is happy with their job, they’re getting along with their coworkers and talking to them about their work and personal lives. If you have an employee who’s not being social with other members of the team, there’s a chance they are unhappy. It’s time to intervene.
  5. They Don’t Offer Feedback or Suggest New Ideas
    Unhappy workers typically don’t participate at meetings, at least not in a positive way. If they do speak up during meetings or brainstorming sessions, it’s likely they will be tearing other people’s ideas down instead of serving up some of their own, according to TinyPulse.
  6. Their Attitude Becomes Toxic
    When employees start becoming unhappy, their attitude takes a turn for the worse. They complain or become rude to coworkers. As a manager, you need to get a handle on this behavior before it permeates the entire team.
  7. Other Employees Start Complaining
    Don’t take it lightly if a number of your employees start complaining about the same person. The last thing you want is to let one person bring down everyone’s morale.
  8. Customers Complain
    If a client or customer starts complaining about an employee’s quality of work — and they’ve been happy customers in the past — you may have an unhappy employee. You need to work on this before more customers become upset.

Taking Action

If you have an unhappy employee, here’s what to do:

  1. Schedule time to talk to your employee about their job and what they are dissatisfied with. Ask what might be done to help improve their attitude.
  2. Consider letting them pursue a pet project so they gain a sense of ownership.
  3. Let them know what the consequences will be if their behavior doesn’t change.
  4. Also, take a good look at what’s making your employee unhappy. Dig deep to find the cause so that you can handle it before it becomes a major issue.