5 ways to deal with an unhappy employee (without firing them)

There is always at least one person in the workplace who is technically good at their job, but loves to slowly chip away at your business culture with their frosty attitude.

Our personal skills are pushed to the limit – you want you staff to kick business goals, but how do you change your employee’s disgruntled mindset to benefit your business, and create a happier workplace for all your employees?

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After completing a little investigation on your employee (which includes their past performance, their normal everyday attitude and where they are now), here are 5 ways to deal with an unhappy employee (without firing them).

1. Offer them a new responsibility or project

Many disgruntled employees are working in positions that are simply not challenging enough or not receiving the credit they feel they deserve.

Employees begin to doubt themselves if they experience failure or treading water when others are receiving new challenges. Your troublesome employee can either attempt to fly higher than their mistake or suffer from self-doubt.

Creating collaborations or new projects for employees to work on can benefit their own portfolios as well as the company culture. Employees prefer to come to work feeling energised, ready to create and contribute to their employment.

2. Shake up the company culture

Google has staff nap pods and ping pong tables. Richard Branson likes his staff to have “serious fun”. Does your workplace encourage social get-togethers like monthly networking meetings? Do you celebrate birthdays? Are the work hours strict or flexible? What part does the CEO play in the scheme of things?

Everyone knows that the business culture of an organisation filters down from the management to the employees.

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If the CEO is not happy, no one is happy.

The major overseas corporations are flying their freak flag in regards to developing and upsetting the status quo in big business, and Australia has finally mastered the art of marketing business culture in an innovative way that stands out from the rest.

Publishing guru Lisa Messenger of Renegade Collective and fitness empire CEO Lorna Jane have created a global community of disciples in a matter of months within their respected businesses, simply by creating a company culture that gives ownership to their employees and therefore, their customers. The benefits of this philosophy, creates loyalty and an enthusiasm which in turn creates a huge fan base who naturally share the brand love with every purchase.

3. Personality Plus (or not)

Is your unhappy employee an introvert or extrovert? Have the negative aspects of their personality impacted their fellow colleagues more than the positive sides? Introverts can seem aloof or too reserved while extroverts can seem overbearing or loud. Maybe your staff personality mix is missing its mojo? How can you work on that?

Reassess their tasks and skills to give them a better match. The Myers-Briggs personality assessment tool is a well-known indicator of personal strengths and weaknesses of an individual. Ask your employees to complete the quiz and learn how to better use their strengths and weakness to your benefit.

If you aren’t aware of your employee’s ESFP difference from their colleague’s ENJP then it is time to get with the program. Being a leader is about motivating and inspiring people to take action, and you are not able to do that if their personality does not gel with your management style.

If you have been in the same company position and are treading water with no respect or kudos, then why would you care if the company doesn’t care?

4. Personal Problems

Is your employee currently going through personal or health problems at home? Not everyone is able to leave their personal life at home, especially if life has thrown them a curve ball such as cancer, chronic health problems or divorce. Many more mature employees are struggling to balance caring for their young adult children as well as their elderly parents or relatives.

Does your company offer supportive leave or counselling services for your employees? You could give employees leave for a short period of time or give light duties to people for a sense of purpose until they are in a position to accept a full workload again.

Some employees are great actors and can focus on their work during their personal problems, other times the pressure is too great to keep up the act.

5. Showing the Kudos

Being acknowledged is one of the main values that we treasure in this busy lifestyle. If you have been in the same company position and are treading water with no respect or kudos, then why would you care if the company doesn’t care?

Employees respond to being ignored in a few ways. Some ask for recognition by applying for a promotion, some fade further into the background or hand in their resignation hoping their reverse psychology works on their employees.

Some decide to have a moody teenager tantrum and sulk until someone notices enough to ask what is wrong. Are they fading in the background amongst the newly energised graduates?

When all else fails, ask them outright. You don’t seem happy at work, your colleagues have sensed something might be up, what is happening, how can we support you?

If you are able to manage your staff to get their best out of their personality, then you are on a winner for your staff and your business.

People wish to be acknowledged for a job well done. That doesn’t always resonate as the person with the loudest voice or sunny personality. Valuing your staff and collaborating with them to address their unhappy state is a win for your business and your employees.


Featured image via Pixabay under Creative Commons CC0