7 Ways To Spot Unhappy Employees
Your employees are the backbone of your business. Without their dedication, effort, and loyalty, your company will flounder. That’s why it’s so important to keep an eye out for unhappy employees.
Unhappy employees create a negative atmosphere in the office. Their dissatisfaction carries over into their work, causing them to treat customers poorly or do a lackluster job. They might badmouth your company in their personal lives.
But, it’s important to note that unhappy employees aren’t created in a vacuum. More often than not, they’re a product of a toxic work environment. Being able to spot unhappy employees as quickly as possible is essential. If you don’t, their discontent can fester within your company and make things worse for everyone. Let’s look at seven ways to notice unhappy employees — and how you can get them back on track to create a happier, healthier work environment.
1. They Don’t Put Forth Effort
One of the easiest ways to tell if an employee is unhappy is to take a look at the work they’re doing — or not doing.
An unhappy employee isn’t going to be fired up to complete their to-do list every day. In fact, their productivity is likely to suffer, and they might have a hard time meeting deadlines. Even if they do turn in work on time, it might be lackluster because of how little time and effort they give.
Maybe they don’t feel like they’re being compensated fairly for the work they do, so they’re less concerned about doing a good job. Whatever the case, if you notice a consistent lack of effort, consider it a sign that something’s wrong, and it probably has to do with the work environment.
2. They Don’t Engage With Coworkers
The best businesses succeed because they establish a “team” environment. Everyone communicates openly, collaborates on projects, and they are always happy to bounce ideas off each other.
Unfortunately, one bad apple can spoil the bunch.
An employee that doesn’t regularly engage with coworkers or adds to collaborative projects can not only harm your business but might go so far as to negatively influence other workers. A lack of engagement typically means they don’t want to be involved, which is a clear sign that they’re either unhappy with someone else in the office or generally displeased with the company culture.
3. They Don’t Offer New Ideas
In addition to not being collaborative, unhappy employees will rarely offer their opinions, ideas, or even feedback. It could be that these employees don’t feel respected. Maybe they’ve tried to speak up in the past, or even suggest possible changes, but they were met with silence or disregard for their needs/wants.
Unfortunately, employees who don’t speak up or offer new ideas aren’t adding anything to your business to keep it moving forward. In fact, they might end up influencing others to keep quiet, too. Silence often speaks volumes.
4. Other Employees Are Complaining
Of course, these behaviors can only go on for so long before other employees will start to take notice. They might start to come to you with negative feedback or complaints about that particular worker. You might start to hear things like:
- They won’t participate in projects
- They’re difficult to work with
- They have a negative attitude
- They aren’t contributing any new or fresh ideas
Sometimes, your employees can be your best eyes and ears to spot an unhappy worker. Don’t take these complaints lightly. Instead, look into them right away for the sake of your team’s well-being and the overall environment of your workplace.
5. You’re Seeing Signs of Burnout
Workplace stress is becoming a bigger problem than ever. A recent survey found that 83% of U.S. workers suffer from work-related stress. If an employee is stressed and overwhelmed, they could be at risk of burnout. As an employer or someone in a leadership position, it’s imperative to understand the common signs of employee burnout, including:
- Constant stress
- Exhaustion and fatigue
- Lack of motivation to complete daily work tasks
- Often irritable or have a negative attitude
Workplace burnout can negatively impact their mental health and cause a lot of personal struggles. It can also damage your business due to a lack of productivity and loyalty. Being able to recognize these signs so you can work to quickly remedy them and support your employee can make a big difference.
6. They’re Frequently Absent
An employee who doesn’t show up for work once in a while is fairly common. They might be sick, need a mental health day, or have a family issue to take care of. However, if an employee is frequently absent and it’s starting to impact the work they’re supposed to do, it could be that they’re not showing up because they’re unhappy.
While you shouldn’t immediately jump to conclusions, know that when an employee’s mental health suffers, their attendance is likely to suffer, too. If they’re dealing with a work environment that makes them feel depressed or anxious, a typical “mental health day” can end up meaning a lot more. It will feel more like a necessity for them rather than something they use to relax once in a while.
7. They Voice Their Concerns Often
While some employees won’t say anything about their mental state or how unhappy they are, others will be quick to speak up and voice their concerns frequently.
That can be a good thing if they’re bringing real, genuine issues to the table. However, if those concerns aren’t addressed, they’re going to get more frustrated and even angry as they keep trying to get your attention about certain things. If you have any employees who have approached you with deep concerns, what have you done to respond?
How To Handle Unhappy Employees
If you’ve noticed any of these signs in your employees, it’s time to take action right away. Thankfully, it’s probably easier than you think to make some positive changes.
The most important thing is to make sure your employees know how valued they are in the workplace. Be empathetic toward their needs, give them a voice, and recognize them when they do a good job. Treat all of your employees — even the unhappy ones — with the utmost respect, and you’ll shift your workplace culture completely.
A few other changes you can make to set things right include:
- Making sure employees know their jobs are secure
- Establishing a zero-tolerance policy for bullying or harassment
- Asking for and implementing feedback
- Being completely transparent about your business and its values
- Offering a thriving wage and competitive benefits
Finally, show a genuine interest in the mental and physical health of your staff. An unhealthy environment at work can impact the mental health of everyone involved. That can lead to physical ailments and put your employees at risk of getting sick. It also often contributes to a lack of productivity, motivation, and loyalty. If you truly want to be a business that has high employee retention, always be on the lookout for unhappy employees, and do what you can to remedy negative situations quickly and effectively.