Are your employees secretly (or not so secretly) dissatisfied with working at your company?

Unfortunately, many business owners might turn a blind eye to how their employees are really feeling – and a lack of satisfaction may be more common than many of us want to believe. 

But the worst part of employee dissatisfaction is not so much the blow to our egos as it is the potential damage it can cause. When employees are unhappy at their jobs, the discontent can spread, result in higher turnover, and ultimately damage overall company performance. 

When employees are unhappy at their jobs, the discontent can spread, result in higher turnover, and ultimately damage overall company performance. Click To Tweet

Fortunately, there are strategic ways to respond to – and repair – employee dissatisfaction. In this article, we’ll take a look at how to identify low levels of employee satisfaction, how to respond, and how to create a company environment that keeps employees happy and fulfilled at their jobs. 

Free Download: A Beginner’s Guide to Employee Net Promoter Score

The Dangers of Employee Dissatisfaction 

If you’re a compassionate company leader, then you care if your employees are satisfied and fulfilled in their jobs. But employee satisfaction is about more than creating a healthy work environment; it’s also about building a high-performing, successful business.

Here’s why employee dissatisfaction can be so dangerous to a company:

It spreads.

One disgruntled employee may not seem like much of a threat to overall company performance. But the truth is, an unhappy team member can spread a sense of malcontent throughout the team. Maybe they complain frequently, or work poorly with others. In any case, employee dissatisfaction tends to have a “domino effect” that can affect your whole team. Research also suggests that happy employees tend to work more collaboratively with others – producing a positive impact that affects the whole team.

It results in turnover. 

If your employees are unhappy, they’re far more likely to look elsewhere for employment. Employee dissatisfaction significantly affects retention, which ultimately damages your ability to grow, learn, and evolve as a business.

Not only that, but finding a replacement poses a significant cost. According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, “employers will need to spend the equivalent of six to nine months of an employee’s salary in order to find and train their replacement.”

It affects work quality. 

Happy, fulfilled employees invest more time, energy, and effort into their work. An employee who feels resentful or annoyed with a company is far more likely to do the bare minimum at work – decreasing productive output and quality.

In fact, economists at the University of Warwick found that high levels of satisfaction at work made employees around 12% more productive, while dissatisfied workers were shown to be 10% less productive

Clearly, employee dissatisfaction is dangerous for a multitude of reasons, all of which ultimately impact your business’s bottom line and ability to succeed.

How to Know if Your Employees are Dissatisfied 

As mentioned above, you may not know that your employees are unhappy at work. Professionalism typically dictates that employees don’t express outright dissatisfaction with their managers or bosses, unless asked. The result? Business leaders are unknowingly left in the dark.

Here’s how to identify employee dissatisfaction in your business:

Send out an employee survey. 

An easy way to gauge overall employee satisfaction at your business is to send out a survey where team members can provide you with specific feedback. This has the doubly beneficial effect of giving your employees an opportunity to share with you while also establishing a greater sense of trust (a key factor in increasing satisfaction). 

You may choose to use a special software for this – such as Nailted, which can help you survey your employees and gather valuable insight into employee satisfaction with weekly surveys and a special “feedback inbox” where team members can provide feedback directly to leadership. 

Meet with employees one-on-one. 

You may also want to schedule one-on-one meetings with employees to follow up with them personally on feedback and address any complex concerns or issues. Like employee surveys, one-on-one meetings communicate your investment in their experience and create more trust. 

How to Respond to Employee Dissatisfaction  

Alright, so you’ve received bad news: your employees are unhappy at their jobs. That being said, you can’t completely halt workflows or overhaul your company to meet their needs. Productive work needs to continue, and team members need to stay focused on their jobs.

Still, you need to take action to prevent damage to team morale and company performance. And ideally, you need to take action fast – before unhappy employees resign and leave you with a vacancy. 

Here’s how to effectively respond to employee dissatisfaction to boost morale, job satisfaction, and create lasting change:

Implement feedback. 

If you’ve taken the steps to identify employee dissatisfaction in your business, then you’ve most likely collected feedback on why employees are unhappy. Ideally, this feedback contains actionable strategies for improving the work environment at your company. 

Here are some types of feedback you may receive from dissatisfied employees, and how to respond:

  • Lack of communication.
    Poor communication – especially between managers/bosses and employees – can result in frustration and stunted workflows. Asking for feedback is a strategic first step in improving communication, but you’ll also want to make an intentional effort to continue keeping an open channel of communication.

  • Unfair pay.
    This complaint has a clear, obvious solution – increase pay. That being said, your company may not be in a financial position to offer raises. If you can’t increase compensation, then make sure your employees feel appreciated, offer perks and flexibility where you can.

  • Micromanagement.
    If micromanagement is a common complaint among dissatisfied employees, then you’ll want to take an honest look at why employees feel micromanaged. Do they need specific guidance because they’re incompetent? Or is there a lack of trust and autonomy in the company? When you identify the root of this complaint, you can take steps to create a team that feels more independent and autonomous. 

  • No opportunities to grow.
    Most team members want to grow personally and professionally. If your company doesn’t offer an upwards trajectory of development, employees may feel bored or frustrated. While you may not be able to hand out promotions left and right, make an effort to build opportunities for team members to innovate and learn.
     

Of course, feedback may vary dramatically. Perhaps an employee is having a personal problem with a team member, and that’s affecting their performance. In that case, you may need to step in to mediate the issue. Whatever it is, don’t let the problem go overlooked – that will only aggravate the issue and increase dissatisfaction.

Delegate a leader for employee satisfaction. 

As a business owner or executive, you might not have a significant amount of time to devote to monitoring and addressing job satisfaction. Instead of bearing the load, delegate a specific leader within your company to spearhead this aspect of your company. 

This team member can be in charge of monitoring and addressing employee satisfaction, as well as strategizing on how to boost morale and improve employee experience. Maybe they organize team events and trainings. Or maybe they manage your weekly surveys and ensure a regular, open channel of communication. 

Finally, taking this step shows your team that you are committed to their at-work satisfaction and development – a key component of employee satisfaction. 

Don’t forget to download: A Beginner’s Guide to Employee Net Promoter Score

Creating a Culture of Feedback: The Key to Lasting Employee Satisfaction  

At the end of the day, no company is going to be perfect (even these 25 companies). The goal is not to become the “perfect place to work” – the goal is to create a healthy work environment where employees feel supported, and as a result, work hard to perform well, innovate, and communicate well with others. 

Creating a culture where feedback is gladly welcomed and encouraged is the ultimate key to a work environment where employees are satisfied. When you encourage employees to share their insight and feedback, you create a company where issues can be quickly addressed and resolved, and most importantly, employees feel heard. To learn more about creating a culture of feedback, click here.

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