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The Warning Signs of an Unhappy Employee

No one wants an unhappy employee! In an ideal scenario, an unhappy or unfulfilled employee would go straight to their supervisor or HR department to voice their concerns and look for solutions. Unfortunately, it is not always this straightforward. Even in a communicative, open workplace, employees might not always express their unhappiness, leaving it up to their employer to recognize the warning signs that employee is feeling dissatisfied. If you think you have an unhappy employee in your workplace, here are some red flags to look out for—and some tips on how to improve your employee’s morale.

They show up late

When an employee is happy in their role, they respect their job and fully embrace the responsibilities. This, of course, means showing up on time for work, meetings, and other required events. If an employee begins showing up late—or leaving early—or seems to be slacking off when it comes to showing up for meetings, it could be a sign they are unhappy in their job. Showing up late can be a sign they’re trying to avoid the office or that they dread coming in each morning, or that they have lost interest in their work.

If you’re dealing with an employee who is consistently tardy or seems interested in coming to meetings, talk to them about how you can help. In some cases, they may be coping with something outside of work, like problems with finding childcare or car troubles, that could be leading to their distraction or unhappiness at work. If their lateness is being caused by an outside factor, work together to come up with a solution to address the issue.

They aren’t participating

Another sign of potential employee unhappiness is a lack of participation. If a usually involved employee has become quieter in meetings or stopped coming to after-work events, it may be a sign that they are unhappy. Happy employees will be more likely to be involved in the office, whether that means attending after-work events or offering ideas at weekly meetings. If an employee is not participating, it can be a sign that they are no longer interested in anything outside their basic duties or that they no longer find themselves meshing with the culture or structure.

If an employee is not participating, talk to them about your concerns and see if you can find the root of their lack of participation. If their withdrawal is being caused by an issue like a conflict with a coworker or concerns that their voice is not respected during meetings, talk with them about how you can fix the issue.

They have a toxic attitude

When it comes to unhappy employees, the biggest warning sign of all is a toxic attitude. If an employee is starting petty conflicts with coworkers, constantly complaining, tearing down other’s ideas, or refusing to do their job, it can be a very clear sign that something is wrong. Since one employee’s bad attitude can quickly spread or cause conflict for others, it’s important to address any issues right away.

If an employee is behaving badly, talk to them right about any issues and remind them about your workplace’s policies. Be as open, patient, and communicative as possible and work to offer reasonable solutions to any grievances, but know that sometimes, a toxic attitude might mean it’s time for an employee to move on.

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