Recognizing the signs of dissatisfaction can help to avoid unpleasant surprises. Any employee, including your highest-potential employees can effectively walk out without warning, giving little or no notice and causing a scramble to fill the role. Instead of being surprised, HR leadership needs to recognize the signs of a dissatisfied employee – and step in when and where necessary. Here are some common signs of employee dissatisfaction:
"When an employee is dissatisfied, attendance usually is the first to suffer."
When an employee is dissatisfied, attendance usually is the first to suffer. Increased rates of tardiness, absenteeism and taking long, frequent breaks are common symptoms. This can have a devastating effect on productivity and morale, so HR leaders should make an effort to identify attendance trends. Once an issue is pinpointed, talk to the employee and, in a supportive, open-ended way, ask them for the reason. It could be a personal issue, a problem with co-workers, or other factors that can be accommodated or addressed.
If you find the quality of the work from a particular employee has taken a noticeable dip, this could be cause for concern. A previously high-value employee suddenly doing the bare minimum is indicative of them no longer feeling invested in the business. Again, take time to discuss with the employee the reasons their work has been slipping and affirm the importance of maintaining quality.
Changes in Attitude
Employees don't have to be outwardly happy all the time, but if you notice a shift in the way a star employee interacts with co-workers and managers, keep an eye on it. Increasing complaints, jealousy or an adversarial tone from one employee can make a serious impact on the morale of the entire workforce. Discuss with the affected employee ways that they can provide feedback in a more constructive manner. Make clear that hostility and aggressive interactions will not be tolerated.
One of the least ambiguous signs of dissatisfaction is an employee looking for another job while on the clock. Even though employees should be encouraged to follow their personal development, this is a waste of company time and resources. Talk to the employee and ask them to be honest about what they are looking for in a workplace/position. With an open conversation, you may be able to suggest new ways to make their current job suit their needs.
Be aware that the sudden onset of these signs can also be a precursor to workplace violence. If through discussions with a dissatisfied employee there are hints of violence and anger directed at themselves or other employees, this behavior should be reported directly to management. Also consider taking the employee out of the greater workforce and alerting security to a possible safety issue.