Unhappy At Work

According to a Gallup poll of more 1 million employed U.S. workers, it was concluded that the number 1 reason people quit their job is a bad boss or immediate supervisor. Gallup stated that their survey showed that “People leave managers not companies…in the end; turnover is mostly a management issue.”

Although this survey points to significant management issues as being the reason for unhappy employees, there are more reasons than one could count as to why an employee could be unhappy.

How can you, a business owner or manager recognize a staffing problem and what can you do to try to care of it?  Since I work in the medical world, I have chosen to look for the symptoms that the employee is showing.  We cannot actually see what is going on inside of our employees, but with a good eye (and sometimes it doesn’t even take that) we certainly can look for the outward symptoms of what might be the disease of “unhappiness”.

Not all unhappiness is caused by situations at work and many times the employee’s personal life is the cause of the illness.  Nonetheless, when it affects the employee’s quality of work it needs to be addressed.

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.

Lack of accountability – This sign can be a costly one and needs to be addressed quickly.  When an employee fails to be accountable for their actions and it appears as though it is not a big issue to them, you are putting yourself and the business at risk. Employees at all times need to be able to demonstrate the following three attributes to their employer/supervisor; (1) Answerability (2) Responsibility and (3) Liability.

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 overflowing into their work life. Negativity is an infectious disease and can pass from one employee to another very quickly.

These are only three of the many symptoms that unhappy employees may display, but what can you do about them if they are happening?

  1. Watch and listen to how the employee is behaving and then take the time to take a few notes and ask to speak to them privately on a one-to-one basis.
  2. Tell them what you have noticed and that you are concerned that they might not be happy and want to know how you can help.
  3. Listen to what they have to say, and ask questions for clarification so that you understand what is going on in their life to make them have these behavior changes.
  4. Tell them what is expected from them as far as their attitude and behavior at work and ask if they understand and can comply.
  5. Let them that you are willing to work with them as long as they realize that they too must work to restore their positive attitude and to keep the lines of communication open.

As a business owner you will be surprised how much your employees will appreciate that you have taken notice that they are unhappy and may be having a difficult time. Sometimes all it takes is someone to recognize that we are struggling and being willing to come alongside to help make things better.

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