How To Recognize And Handle A Disgruntled Employee | 10 Steps

Disgruntled employee sitting on a bench

Disgruntled employees are like bad apples: they can spoil everything around them. If you see your team’s productivity decrease or notice more friction between team members, there could be a disgruntled employee in your midst.

But how can you recognize that an employee is having problems? And once you’ve identified the signs, how should you go about handling that disgruntled employee?

In this article, the experts at Sling will answer both of those questions. We’ll show you four ways to identify a disgruntled employee and then give you seven ways to address the issue so your team doesn’t suffer.

How To Recognize A Disgruntled Employee

As a manager or business owner, you need to keep one ear to the ground, so to speak, for any signs that one or more of your employees are dissatisfied with their job. Here are four ways to spot a disgruntled employee.

1) Track Absences

Two disgruntled employees walking

Is one employee taking more days off than other employees? Barring any extenuating circumstance, the employee could be dissatisfied with their job. And time off is only one indicator of absenteeism.

Absenteeism also includes:

  • Excessive breaks
  • Late starts
  • Long lunches

Scheduling software like Sling can help you identify and track these signs so that absenteeism doesn’t become a problem. If you notice any of the above behaviors, sit the employee down and find out what’s going on.

2) Conduct Performance Reviews

Poor performance is often one of the first signs you’ll see when an employee is unhappy at work. That’s why it’s so important to conduct performance reviews on a regular basis.

Think of a performance review as a vaccine: both help keep the body healthy and operating at peak potential. Once you’ve identified the signs, you can take steps to improve work performance.

3) Keep Track Of Negative Feedback From Other Team Members

When an employee is frustrated about their job, they often have a hard time getting along with other team members. Even teams that were cohesive just a few days before can suddenly become dysfunctional because of a disgruntled employee.

If you start to receive negative feedback from team members or notice that one employee has difficulty collaborating, it’s time to address the issue.

4) Make Note Of A Persistent Negative Attitude

Disgruntled employee on his phone

A negative attitude at work can take many forms. The main signs that an employee has a poor attitude include:

  • Lack of participation
  • No motivation
  • Decrease in performance quality
  • Difficulty collaborating
  • Abusive behavior
  • Lashing out verbally

Don’t let a negative attitude get out of hand. Discuss the issue face-to-face, and then come up with ways to improve the employee’s attitude.

Now that you know how to recognize a disgruntled employee, let’s discuss how to handle these team members so you can get them back to performing at a high level.

How To Handle A Disgruntled Employee

Each of your employees is different. What works for one may not work for another. That’s why we’ve included different ways to handle a disgruntled employee in the section below.

5) Provide Counseling

disgruntled employee in counseling

Sometimes, all that’s needed to get a disgruntled employee back on track is to give them the opportunity to talk out their issues. You can meet with the employee yourself or provide access to a professional counselor.

Even the simple act of venting their frustration can have a profound impact on the employee’s attitude.

6) Keep The Atmosphere Positive

When you meet with a disgruntled employee, keep the atmosphere positive. Try not to imply that their job could be on the line if they don’t improve. This only adds to the employee’s stress and could make the situation worse.

7) Express Your Trust In The Employee

Trust sign

Your employee needs to know that you trust them to get through whatever is causing their dissatisfaction. That’s why it’s so important that you tell them this directly.

When your employees feel trusted — both in dealing with their dissatisfaction and in their work in general — they’re more likely to be engaged in doing the best they can.

8) Give Employees The Training They Need

Oftentimes, employees become unhappy because they don’t feel confident in some part of their job or performance. To prevent (or remedy) this situation, provide training opportunities to help your employees improve and develop.

9) Follow Up With The Employee

After your initial meeting or meetings, follow up with the employee to see how things are going. This serves two purposes:

  • It makes the employee feel like a valued member of the team
  • It helps you see if the corrective measures you suggested are working

And now that you’ve addressed the problem, following up helps you and the employee identify whether further measures are necessary.

10) Provide Avenues For Career Advancement

Symbol of a lack of career advancement for disgruntled employees

No one wants to feel like their career has become stagnant. If that’s what a disgruntled employee is experiencing, consider providing avenues for career advancement.

That doesn’t necessarily mean giving the disgruntled employee a promotion or a new job title right away. But you can challenge them with a new assignment or a supervisory role in the next project.

11) Communicate Regularly With All Employees

The old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” certainly applies where disgruntled employees are concerned. The prevention in question is communication.

When you talk to your employees on a regular basis (sometimes daily), you can give them what they need to stay motivated and engaged, and prevent them from becoming disgruntled in the first place.

Don’t Let One Disgruntled Employee Spoil Your Team

The feelings and attitudes of a disgruntled employee can infect the rest of your team. So when you recognize a disgruntled employee in your midst, don’t wait to address the issue. Use the suggested methods listed above to get the employee in question — and indeed your whole team — back on track.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit GetSling.com today.