Employees are one of the greatest assets a company can have.  They take care of business in a myriad of ways. Whether it’s customer service, food service, crunching numbers, writing policies, or cleaning the bathroom, employees are the lifeblood of any organization. While it is true that employees are hired to perform tasks for a wage, there is so much more to it than that.  Culture and appreciation play a big part of an employee’s decision to accept a job, and then stay there, once hired.

Sometimes, despite our best efforts (but usually through a lack of effort) an employee becomes disgruntled.  What does that mean, exactly?

By definition, disgruntled means angry or dissatisfied. Both adjectives are undesirable attributes when referring to employees.  While it would be ideal to never let them feel this way in the first place, it is undeniable that sometimes we end up with angry and dissatisfied employees that quickly become a liability to themselves and the organization.

So what’s an employer to do?

First off, do everything you can to provide a fair wage, healthy work environment, continuous feedback, and a place to share and solve problems. If you have done all these things, and find that you still have an unhappy worker, there are some things you can do to fix the issues.

  1. Have a (potentially) uncomfortable and direct conversation with the employee.  This goes beyond asking what’s wrong and should take a deep dive into the cause of the attitude.  Sometimes this ends up being a personality issue that cannot be solved, and you may have to part ways.  Oftentimes, though, it is a simple misunderstanding/miscommunication that can be fixed with some effort by all parties involved.
  2. Make sure that the employee is not being harassed, discriminated against, or otherwise made to feel intimidated or uncomfortable at work.  Listen to their words. If there is a potential harassment issue, you should conduct an investigation, get to the cause of the problem, and then fix it.
  3. Look at the job to which the employee is assigned.  Have they been trained well?  Are they qualified for the position?  Were they (perhaps) set up to fail? Would a reassignment or some additional training help?
  4. Look at the employee’s manager/direct supervisor.  Statistics tell us that 84% of workers blame their work stress on poor managers and 49% of workers have quit a job due to a bad boss. Most employees are not leaving because they don’t like, or can’t perform, the job itself. If management is the problem, fix it.
  5. Empower the employee to bring their own solutions to fix the issues they are having.  This gets the employee involved and provides some level or feeling of control, which can improve the perception that they are stuck in a job they hate and can’t do anything about it.
  6. Once you are aware there is an issue, address it swiftly.  Disgruntled employees can quickly become a liability to an organization through lack of attention, care, and, even on occasion, sabotage.

Make sure that your culture and expectations are communicated well during the interview and continues throughout employment.  The path to a successful employee starts with the hire and continues from there. Then, pay attention to the work performance and interactions of your employees. Once you are in the practice of being mindful of the attitudes of your employees, it will be easier to spot your unhappy workers and fix the issues before they become a problem.