How To Handle a Disgruntled Employee (With Steps)

“A disgruntled employee is someone who is unhappy with their job and is prone to ‘grumbling’ about it…” The term ‘disgruntled’ actually comes from an old word ‘gruntled,’ which means ‘to grunt. ‘ The problem with disgruntled employees is that they can pose a risk to your company.

Disgruntled Walmart employee destroys Vineland store

What are the benefits of managing a disgruntled employee?

The advantages your business enjoys when it handles a disgruntled employee pro-actively are as follows:

Improved productivity

Frequently, one employee can have a significant impact on your company’s bottom line. If one or more employees aren’t working as hard as they could be because they’re unhappy, your company might suffer financial consequences. However, when you mend fences with unhappy workers, they frequently revert to their earlier, more productive work habits. Your company can find out if there was a problem preventing them from being productive so that it won’t continue to affect other team members.

Healthier company culture

Most businesses strive to foster workplace cultures that promote candid communication and respect among coworkers. However, sometimes workers aren’t convinced that their company really cares about these values. An unsatisfied employee might think that management won’t take their feedback seriously or won’t welcome it. You can correct this perception and show the rest of your team that management is concerned if something has upset them by speaking with displeased employees. Additionally, you stop the disgruntled worker from spreading negativity, removing a source of tension and reviving the culture of your business.

Better employee retention

Employee retention is key for organizational stability and productivity. If unmanaged, disgruntled employees frequently quit, possibly inciting others to follow suit. They might make new hires second-guess their decision to work for your company before quitting. A disgruntled employee can feel more appreciated by the company if you talk to them and find out why they’re upset. They become less likely to leave the team or cause trouble for the other members. Instead, you can help them so they can promote your business and help to increase employee retention.

Enhanced company reputation

Sometimes, unhappy workers express unfavorable views about your business to the public online or in person. This might harm your business’s reputation with clients, potential employees, and colleagues in your industry. You can lessen or remove the reasons for a disgruntled employee’s unhappiness by speaking with them directly, and you can also highlight the advantages of your company.

Your company can establish itself as a desirable place to work if it consistently demonstrates its responsiveness to dissatisfied employees. People who are researching your business are more likely to find favorable comments that persuade them it’s a good choice to work for or support financially.

What is a disgruntled employee?

A member of an organization who feels they have received unfair treatment that the employer has not adequately addressed is said to be a disgruntled employee. An employee may be offended by a single incident occasionally, or they may become increasingly dissatisfied with the company due to a policy or a string of incidents. A common trait of unsatisfied workers is that they express their displeasure to coworkers rather than management about their concerns.

Disgruntled employees may feel compelled to cause losses or harm to their company in order to obtain what they believe to be a just outcome. They therefore continue to pose a risk to your business until management takes action. For instance, if an employee is dissatisfied with their pay and feels undervalued by the company, they may put forth minimal effort. They might decide to put in the amount of effort they believe is commensurate with their pay until someone pays attention to their concerns.

How can you recognize a disgruntled employee?

Here are some common signs that an employee is disgruntled:

Changes in work quality

Dissatisfied employees are rarely unhappy when they first start working for your company. An incident occurs that alters their assessment of the organization and their contribution to it. This typically makes it challenging for disgruntled employees to maintain the same level of quality in their work, which results in a decline in performance. They might not intend to do less work but struggle to focus due to their emotions, or they might purposefully put forth less effort to communicate with management. In either case, if an employee’s output suddenly declines, consider whether they might be unhappy.

Improper interactions

Employees who are upset may be so because of a teammate interaction or because management has irritated them. Unhappy workers occasionally turn to treating those around them poorly instead of constructively sharing their emotions They might say unfavorable things, engage in excessively heated arguments, or ignore requests from management and coworkers.

Absenteeism and lateness

Infrequent occurrences of tardiness or absenteeism are common in most workplaces. When brought on by outside or uncontrollable circumstances, such as getting sick or encountering unusual traffic, these occurrences are typically not indicative of a significant issue or complaint. However, if an employee frequently skips work, arrives late, or leaves the office, it may indicate a more serious problem that needs to be addressed. Similar to poor work quality, this behavior may be a sign of distress or the disgruntled worker may be trying to express their feelings by abdicating duty.

Decreased teamwork

When upset about a lingering or unresolved issue, disgruntled employees frequently find it difficult to collaborate effectively. Employees not interacting with their coworkers is a definite barrier to achieving the best outcomes for your company, even though it is preferable to treating team members with disrespect. By failing to communicate, missing deadlines, withholding opinions, and making coworkers who notice something is amiss feel unsure of how to handle the situation, a disgruntled employee can undermine teamwork.

How to handle a disgruntled employee

When dealing with a disgruntled employee in your company, follow these steps:

1. Determine your companys best approach

A broad range of circumstances and employee behaviors are covered by the term “disgruntled employee.” Here are a few instances of unhappy workers to demonstrate how varied they can be:

Companies typically gain from comprehending an employee’s grievance and resolving the underlying issue. But occasionally a displeased worker loses control of their behavior, and the situation becomes intolerable. Alternately, your business may have previously noted problems with a particular employee and decide that it would prefer to proceed without them. Even though it’s a difficult choice, it might be the one that gives your team the healthiest and most fruitful future, making it the best choice. It’s crucial to decide whether you want to work toward a future together or end your professional relationship before engaging a disgruntled employee.

2. Meet with the employee

Arrange a meeting with your employee. Assuming you arent terminating them, express your concerns. It’s crucial that you come prepared to the meeting with specific information or examples you can use to discuss the behavior of the employees. By avoiding relying on personal interpretations of behavior, this promotes the establishment of an objective, fact-based conversation.

After stating the purpose of the meeting, let the employee express their viewpoint. You might learn something unexpected or you might strongly disagree with the opinions of the employees. It is also possible for the employee to claim there isn’t a specific problem. Withhold comment until the employee finishes sharing. After listening, you might be prepared to suggest a solution or you might need some time to think about the best course of action.

3. Communicate solutions to the employee

When you’re prepared, discuss with the employee the potential solutions you’ve found. Sometimes, only one solution is available. If, for instance, a disgruntled worker had a minor conflict with a coworker, there may be a need for multiple options. You might propose setting up a meeting with all parties concerned or offering to record the grievance and continue to keep tabs on the situation.

If a worker was subjected to coworker abuse, you might only have one choice. Most likely, your only option is to take disciplinary action and speak with human resources. By defining feasible future paths, you hope to strike a balance between assisting the employee and maintaining control of the situation.

4. Follow up on progress

It’s crucial to keep an eye on the development of the situation once you’ve determined how to assist the employee in getting back to their productive routines. Follow through on any commitments you made to take specific actions so the employee knows you meant business. Despite your initial efforts to fix it, the original problem might still exist. You retain the choice of pursuing an alternative course of action by continuing the conversation with the employee.

5. Assess the organizations responsibility

If the employee genuinely has a problem with one of your company’s policies or employees, it’s important to determine how to fix it. Employees frequently view corporate protocol from a management perspective that makes it challenging to change. Being open to criticism benefits your company even though unhappy employees are better off communicating than letting their work suffer. You prevent future employees from leaving your company because of the same working conditions by making improvements now.

6. Emphasize open communication

Remind your unhappy employee that you value their perspective and value their work as you come to a resolution. So that you can work together to create a stronger company, encourage them to communicate more frequently about the problems they encounter there. Determine how to remove it if there was a genuine communication barrier that made it difficult for the employee to contact management. Even though your interactions with the specific employee should be kept as private as possible, you might find it useful to let everyone in your company know who to talk to when they need support.


How can you tell an employee is disgruntled?

5 Tips for Terminating a Disgruntled Employees
  1. TIP 1: Select a safe location to perform the termination.
  2. TIP 2: Alert the authorities if you believe the situation may spiral out of control or if the employee has a history of violence.
  3. TIP 3: Determine whether the termination should take place in person or over the phone.

How do you fix a disgruntled employee?

This article will go through ten tips for handling a disgruntled employee in a productive way.
  1. Deal with any issues promptly. …
  2. Remain professional. …
  3. Keep it private. …
  4. Listen with compassion. …
  5. Provide training. …
  6. Keep records. …
  7. Implement ongoing dialog. …
  8. Make a small gesture.

What causes a disgruntled employee?

Identifying a Disgruntled Employee
  1. Poor performance.
  2. Lack of motivation.
  3. Excessive absences.
  4. Tardiness.
  5. Negative comments from other employees.
  6. Poor attitude.

Can you be fired for being disgruntled?

6 tips for dealing with unhappy employees
  1. Figure out the root of the issue. …
  2. Invite them for conversation and listen. …
  3. Write down the facts. …
  4. Empower them to solve the problem. …
  5. Fix what you can. …
  6. Implement ongoing dialogue.

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