Managing personnel is among business owners and managers’ most complicated and nuanced challenges. Tensions can even get more heightened if the company is naturally a stressful profession with high stakes or extensive customer contact. It can also be a matter where the employees are simply unhappy with their situation. Regardless of the impetus, a disgruntled employee or several of them can lead to legal problems for the employers, irrespective of whether the employees’ claims are valid.
Some common signs include:
- Drops in work quality: Those who become increasingly unhappy with their job will often consciously or unconsciously lower the quality of their work. This can be shoddy work, missed deadlines, or disruptive behavior.
- Complaints: The employee will approach HR or their manager with a specific concern, such as perceived mistreatment, low pay, or issues with other employees or managers. Employers must address any valid complaints that violate the Americans with Disabilities Act or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
- Exhaustion: Whether it is so-called “burnout” or actual tiredness, exhaustion may reflect an unrealistic workload or a lack of work-life balance.
- Attitude: People who are standoffish or quiet may be perfectly content, but a changing attitude may reflect a problem the employee is not discussing.
- Attendance: Employees who are suddenly asking for a lot of sick days, are frequently late for work or leave early may indicate that they are uninterested in their current job or are looking for a new one. However, the employee may have trouble at home that has nothing to do with their job. To circumvent further damage, employers should avoid punishing workers who experience legitimate challenges in other parts of their lives.
- Inappropriate behavior: People respond to stress or unhappiness in different ways. A worker’s inappropriate behavior may signal more serious issues. Managers should take time to find out what happened and why it happened.
Employers must pay attention
Employers must take even the most seemingly frivolous claims from a disgruntled worker seriously. Accurate or not, businesses and their owners may see harm to their reputation, which can affect company morale or its bottom line. Managers or owners should be proactive in identifying potentially disgruntled workers and address the issue, either to (if possible) resolve the issue that causes the unhappiness or prepare for a potential lawsuit.