8 Signs Your Employees Are Unhappy and What to Do About It

After many years of experience working for many organizations both public and private at different capacity and many years as an entrepreneur, one important lesson I have learnt is that company’s productivity is in direct proportion to how happy employees are.

Thousands of company leaders have become miserable trying to get either their employees or their subordinates to be more productive.

You have a great deal of responsibilities as an entrepreneur. You have to think of new ideas, put in place the groundwork for the business, put together executive decisions and break new ground as the leader of the organization (not to mention attend to your normal responsibilities, like sales and marketing).

So you may not think of keeping your employees happy as a core concern.

However, that happiness is in fact vital to the success and continued existence of your business, and you need to recognize when employees are showing signs of dissatisfaction.

Happy employees are productive employees.

Employee happiness is above just making your people feel good.

Workers are more productive, when they’re satisfied, which means you’ll be able to accomplish more as an organization. On top of that, satisfied workers are less likely to leave your organization, which means retention will increase and you’ll spend less time and money recruiting and training new candidates to replace them.

Beyond the obvious

If an employee openly complains about being unhappy, there’s no ambiguity to hash out; you know what he or she is feeling because you've been told.

But, regrettably, things aren't this clear all the time. Instead, it is necessary for you to watch out for the following more subtle signs that your employees are unhappy:

1. Longer work hour, low work output

Some years ago, I was consulting for a company. I came across a department which is not turning out what it should; in fact they are performing at about 70% below their output about seven months prior to that time.

Workers in that department no longer go for lunch or take any break from work. They work from resumption to closing and yet they are performing terribly. When confronted by their superior officer about their low output, they simply let him realize that they being working without taking a break, not even for lunch and their current output are their best.

I look into the situation and find out that the employees of this department are unhappy. Their new head has changed the rules without their consent which causes the workers to feel that they are just a paycheck and not part of the company.

When you notice that you employees are suddenly become over committed with poor performance, it is may be sign that your employees are unhappy.

2. Reaching for only the minimum

Another clear sign of employees’ dissatisfaction to really watch out for is reaching only the minimum. Over the years, I have come across many workers who will not get beyond their minimum target. They mostly see it as the best for what they’ve been paid.

If you desire to achieve something as a business, you have to surpass expectations – not just meet them – and your employees should do their best for that attitude on top. When you perceive them starting to meet only the bare minimum goals, that could be a sign that they no longer care about their work. If they’re genuinely struggling, they even may fail to keep up these “minimum” goals, at which point you can get involved with diverse alternatives.

But meeting just the minimum is an indication of lack of interest, and possibly even boredom.

3. Clock-watching

No matter how cool your job is, almost everyone gets excited for lunch breaks and quitting time at the end of the day. That’s not a problem, nor is it a sign of employee unhappiness. Instead, the sign of unhappiness to watch for here is “clock-watching,” or obsessing over the time in a bid to get done with work as soon as possible.

When you find that your employees start counting down the minutes at 3 p.m., that's a sign your employees are unhappy with their work.

4. Inadequate individual engagement

As an entrepreneur, you’ll likely feel a bit secluded, but if your workforce begin closing themselves off, that's an indication that something is wrong. Ideally, your team will be tight-knit and connected with one another on an almost personal level. That isn’t always possible, but light chatter and humor are signs that things are running smoothly.

If your office is harshly quiet, or if you never see your workers chatting with one another, they could be an indication of dissatisfaction.

5. A lack of feedback or new ideas

Engaged, happy employees are passionate about their work, and they go out of their way to make their work even better. They freely come up with new ideas for their own roles, and sometimes for the entire organization, and they aren’t afraid to give or receive feedback. If you don’t hear anything from your workforce  along these lines, it could be a sign your employees are unhappy.

6. Lack Of Transparency Or Secrecy

One of the most excellent ways to build trust in a team is to showcase transparency and not keep secrets; do this as a leader, and your employees will likely do the same. If you notice your employees talking behind your back, or refusing to inform you about problems they’re facing, however, that could mean that they are unsatisfied in their work environment.

7. Lack of enthusiasm to cooperate

When you delegate a task to an employee, you look forward to that person giving you result.

Such an employee may inquire or ask for clarification, but that feedback should come from a place of genuine desire to help. If you notice an employee consistently unhappy or unwilling to contribute, consider that a clear sign of unhappiness.

8. Visual signals

These are some of the toughest to pick up on, but they’re vital to note, as many employees deliberately cover up their unhappiness to steer clear of conflict. Visual signals differ based on the personality of each individual but can often hint you into a person’s internal monologue. Do you perceive your employees groaning, sighing or showing signs of stress like been restless or uneasy?

Do they smile less often? Is their posture frequently closed off? These could all be indications of unhappiness – but they aren’t the only ones, so look closely for behavioral changes.

Wrap it up

Unhappy employees are costly to a company or business. There are many reasons for employees’ unhappiness but the simple truth of the matter is that most entrepreneurs and company leaders are the cause of about 65% of the problem. Many of them spend a fortune mastering the different strategies to grow their business but often neglect the most important aspect of their business.

As an entrepreneur or company leader, there are many more signs to watch out for other than those mentioned above depending on various situations. So, you need to be discerning to be able to see most of the signs.

When your workers are happy, they’ll work harder for you, and stay dedicated to you longer. They won’t be happy 100 percent of the time, but if you can become skilled at identifying these signs of dissatisfaction and unrest, you’ll be able to nip the problem in the bud and re-establish your employees’ satisfaction in no time.

Over To You

So, what are the other advises, tips, strategies, techniques or methods that have worked for you? Please share with us in the comment below. Believe me; I sincerely value your opinion more than mine.

And don’t forget there is love in sharing!

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