What Do You Prescribe For An Unhappy Employee?

1156714_perscription_drug_case I recently was talking to a woman who told me that she loved what she does at work, but is so unhappy because the management is so poor.  She said that it is not only her that is unhappy, but most of the crew she works with feels the same.  At meetings the crew has tried to bring up some of the issues, but they were not received well.  They do not want to “rock the boat” because they all need their jobs, so they feel that they just need to put up with the way things are.

What a sad situation, it seems as though this manager does not know “how to tell when an employee is unhappy”.  Since I talked to her I and have been thinking about this from two points of view.  One, from the managers point of view because an unhappy employee will more than likely be less productive and the other from the business owners point of view because usually they have less connections with the employee and many times are looking at the situation from strictly the bottom line.

There are more reasons than one could count as to why an employee is unhappy, so I thought it be best to just stick with how do you recognize the problem and what can you do to take care of it.  Since I work in the medical world, I have chosen to look for the symptoms that the employee has.  I cannot actually see what is going on inside of them, but with a good eye (and sometimes it doesn’t even take that) I certainly can look for outward symptoms of what might be the disease of “unhappiness”.

Not all unhappiness is caused by situations at work, and it is the employee’s personal life that is causing the illness.  None the less, when it affects the employees quality of work it needs to be addressed.

I have come up with three pretty easy “unhappy employee symptoms” to spot and what I would do about them. I would like to get input for any other symptoms that other managers or business owners may have encountered and what solutions you have prescribed to successfully remedy the problem.

Checking out – When you see your employee physically there but they are really not engaged with what they are doing and whom they are doing it with they may be checked out. You ask them a question and get the proverbial “deer in the headlight look”, when they really should be able to give you an answer. When people check out of a situation it is usually because something is going on that is consuming their thoughts when their mind should be on work.  Time to check it out so you can get them to check back in.

Lack of team effort – “All for one and one for all” but when you see a normally engaged team player starting to play solo it is time to for a locker room chat to find out what is going on and what can be done to get that team spirit back in your player.  A team can fall apart pretty quickly if “soloist” is allowed to continue playing on their own.

Negativity – When we are unhappy we have a hard time finding good in anything and our attitudes reflect it. When you start to hear an employee who normally has a pretty balanced attitude complain or speak negatively more than normal about everyday matters pay attention. Someone is having problems and they are pouring over into their work life, if they are not caused by it. Negativity is an infectious disease and can pass from one employee to another very quickly.

Employees are a businesses most valuable asset, keeping them healthy and strong is a worthwhile investment.

I am sure there are dozens of other symptoms out there, what have your encountered?

“Businesses often forget about the culture, and ultimately, they suffer for it because you can’t deliver good service from unhappy employees.” ~ Tony Hsieh

6 thoughts on “What Do You Prescribe For An Unhappy Employee?

  1. High turnover is always a bad sign. Show me a department with high turnover and I will show you poor management. It does not matter what field you are in.

    A lack of communciation: If your employees are not brining you any information, good bad or indifferent, then they are not comfortable communicating with you. If this is the case, things are probably bad, but you don’t know it.

    Increased LinkedIn activity: Most people only use LinkedIn when they are actively looking for other employment. If your employees are constantly updaing their skills and achievements online, then I think it is safe to assume that they are seeking other employment.



    • Thank you for your input, I think you are right in saying there may be a problem if you are not hearing from your staff members, so it may be time for the manager to check in just to make sure all is okay.

      Thank you again!


  2. One of the biggest problems with management is that many managers are previously just senior employees. This does not mean they have the skills to be good managers. The corporate pyramid often forces people into “managers” and this gap creates issues with managing employees. Better training can solve the issue but not many companies address that.


    • “C” you hit the nail on the head with this one. I absolutely agree because I was promoted to manager and then had to learn the skills afterward. In hind-sight this was a tough lesson to learn with many mistakes. Management positions really need to be filled with people that have the skills and experience.
      Thank you!


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