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How to Identify & Handle a Disgruntled Employee

How to Identify & Handle a Disgruntled Employee

One of the keys to growing your business and maintaining high productivity is ensuring that your employees feel engaged, appreciated, and are motivated. Engaged employees are much more likely to perform their jobs to their highest potential and help your company achieve its long-term goals.

But despite all you do to try to motivate employees and maintain a positive work culture, you may still find yourself having to deal with a disgruntled employee. As a manager, it’s important for you to be able to identify and handle disgruntled employees to avoid them having a negative impact on your organization.

Here’s how to identify and handle a disgruntled employee in order to get them back on board before their dissatisfaction negatively affects your company.

HRDQ offers a fully customizable virtual training library, so you can provide specialized training content to your team no matter where they are. Explore the Reproducible Training Library.

What is a Disgruntled Employee?

A disgruntled employee is one who is dissatisfied with their job or position in your company. These employees are less likely to perform their best, and if left unaddressed, they can influence the way other employees feel about their work and your organization.

These employees are not only unengaged and dissatisfied, but they are also often very vocal about their dissatisfaction. As a result, they often have a negative impact on workplace morale and culture.

While you may already make an effort to maintain positive morale, disgruntled employees are often unavoidable. Workers often become disengaged for a variety of reasons — many of which have nothing to do with your management style or practices. They may have problems with a specific coworker, are unhappy with their role, or have personal issues that are impacting their work.

The good news is that, while disgruntled employees are often unavoidable, they are often able to be effectively dealt with by managers or HR. By talking to them, listening to their concerns, and addressing any issues they may be having, you may be able to get them back on board before they begin to impact your company culture.

Identifying a Disgruntled Employee

To help disgruntled employees resolve their issues, you first need to be able to identify a disgruntled employee.

There are several signs you can watch out for to accomplish this, including:

  • Poor performance
  • Lack of motivation
  • Excessive absences
  • Tardiness
  • Negative comments from other employees
  • Poor attitude

In general, it’s fairly easy to spot a disgruntled employee as they often make their dissatisfaction known either vocally or through their actions. If an employee isn’t performing well and isn’t getting along with their coworkers, there’s a strong chance they are dissatisfied, and it's important to address this issue as quickly as possible.

How to Handle a Disgruntled Employee

If you’ve identified a disgruntled employee in your organization, it’s important to act quickly to resolve this issue and address their problems. 

Here are several steps you can take to properly handle a disgruntled employee: 

  • Act quickly. The longer the issue goes on, the more likely the employee will have a negative impact on your company’s culture. As soon as you identify a disgruntled employee, you need to take action to resolve the situation.
  • Listen attentively. The first step to resolving an unhappy worker’s issues is to carefully listen to them. When approached in an honest and professional manner, disgruntled employees are often more than willing to communicate their issues with the hope that you will help them find a solution.
  • Provide counseling. Employee dissatisfaction is often a result of stress, harassment, work-induced anxiety, and other issues that require professional counseling to resolve. Providing access to professional counseling is often an effective way to deal with a disgruntled employee.
  • Career pathing. Career pathing is the process of helping an employee plan out their career path at your organization. This helps employees whose dissatisfaction is a result of feeling stuck in their current position.
  • Deal with it privately. Don’t confront unhappy employees in front of your workforce. Doing so demonstrates a lack of respect and trust, which can ultimately worsen the situation.
  • Offer training. Employee dissatisfaction may be a result of them not being able to adequately perform their jobs. In this case, you can offer training to help them improve their competency and feel more qualified to perform their daily job duties.
  • Maintain an ongoing dialogue. This type of issue can’t always be resolved with a quick meeting. When dealing with a disgruntled employee, it’s important to maintain an ongoing dialogue to ensure they aren’t having ongoing issues that impact their attitude and performance.

Disgruntled employees can have a significant negative impact on your workplace’s culture, but there are several steps you can take to address these issues. By communicating with your employees and addressing their issues promptly, you can often successfully resolve their dissatisfaction.

Learn to Address Problematic Behavior with HRDQ

Disgruntled employees often negatively impact other team members’ experience at work. To ensure you are able to maintain a productive culture and positive morale, it’s important for managers to be able to effectively handle employees whose behavior is affecting other employees.

At HRDQ, we provide high-quality training resources to help organizations effectively manage their teams and get the most out of their employees. Handling Challenging Behaviors in the Workplace is a reproducible training library designed to help managers learn how to correct poor behavior and recognize what causes these behaviors in the first place.

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