Five Signs One Of Your Employees Is Unhappy—And What You Can Do About It

Five Signs One Of Your Employees Is Unhappy—And What You Can Do About It

Did you know that happiness can boost productivity by 12 percent—and unhappiness can lower it by as much as 10 percent?

If you’re an experienced manager, these findings from a 2014 report titled "Happiness and Productivity" by researchers Oswald, Proto, and Sgoi from the University of Warwick and IZA Bonn probably don’t surprise you. Sooner or later, we’re all faced with the challenge of an employee being off his or her game. Although anyone can have a bad day, when one day becomes two days and two days stretch into a week or longer, your unhappy employee’s state of mind can become a serious problem that affects your entire team.

Telltale signs your employee is unhappy

There are several clear indicators that your employee isn’t happy:

1. Loss of motivation: When an otherwise enthusiastic employee loses all passion for his or her work, it’s a sure sign there’s something wrong.

2. Lower productivity: A loss of motivation can quickly lead to lower productivity. Sometimes it’s because the employee isn’t inspired to work as hard, but it can also be because he or she is more easily distracted.

3. Lack of engagement: An unhappy employee usually becomes less engaged. He or she will interact less with the team, stop contributing to group discussions, and show less interest overall.

4. Lower performance: Unhappiness can compromise your employee’s performance, causing him or her to make errors or deliver subpar work.

5. Unprofessional behavior: If someone who’s usually professional begins to argue with colleagues and management, arrives at work late and leaves too early, or displays some other form of unprofessional behavior, it can be a sign of unhappiness.

What can you do?

The first thing you need to do is have a conversation with your team member to find out why he or she is unhappy. Is it a personal issue or a professional one? If it’s personal, maybe the employee would benefit from counseling, a more flexible schedule, or even some time off.

If it’s a professional problem, try to work out an adequate solution together. For example, if the employee is having trouble using a new computer system, additional training could be an effective solution. If your employee doesn’t find the work challenging or interesting anymore, assign some stretch assignments so he or she can develop more skills. If the person is upset because of a missed promotion, explain why he or she didn’t qualify, and discuss ways the employee can acquire the skills needed to advance.

It’s important to keep checking in with the employee in the days and weeks following the conversation. If he or she is still unhappy, then you might need to adjust course and provide additional tools and support. Remember: until now, this employee has always been a valuable member of your team. That’s why helping him or her through this rough spot is in the best interest of not only the employee, but also your team and your entire company.