Managing dissatisfied employees – what to look for and what should you do?

At some point in our working lives, there’s been an occasion when we’ve been dissatisfied with something at work. The reason(s) can be wide as they are varied, but what is an appropriate method to deal with a modern-day colleague who’s clearly “downed tools”?

At this juncture, it would be pertinent to understand what the reasons are why a colleague would be dissatisfied:

  • Poor relationship with line manager
  • Conflict in the workplace with colleagues
  • Lack of recognition
  • Remuneration package
  • Work/life balance
  • Progression opportunities
  • Unhappiness in working structure

How can you tell if an employee is irritated with the current situation? There are several clues to confirm your hunch if you suspect an employee is unhappy:

  • Lack of effort/application
  • Uncommunicative
  • Reluctance to get involved
  • Completing the minimum required

Putting it bluntly, how you manage this situation depends solely on your and the organisation’s value of the employee.

If they are looking elsewhere and they are bringing the rest of the team down, it might be best if they do move on. However, if they are unhappy and not leaving, you’ll need to follow HR protocol to achieve a mutually agreeable outcome. More often than not, the opportunity to talk is one that really helps. “One-2-ones” are great for this, as are encouraging social interaction outside of work. As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved, so encouraging employees to discuss their challenges would highlight their unhappiness and lack of motivation which could ultimately impinge the colleagues around them and affect the quality and quantity of their output.

After all, a happy employee is a productive one. Leading a team of people is tricky, but remember, it’s important to empathise and understand all sides of the story.

When all avenues have been visited and exhausted, yes, new paths should be explored. But that is worst case scenario.

Are considering succession planning? If not, you should be. Here’s why.

Roland Seddon, Managing Director, MRK Associates.

MRK Associates is a recruitment and career advisory company specialising in three distinct areas of professional employment – finance/accountancy jobs, office support/administration jobs, and revenue management/yield jobs. Our main geographical focus is in the Northern Home Counties area (Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire and Bedfordshire) where we provide a personal, knowledgeable and professional service within these markets.

For more information, please telephone 01442 894555 or email:

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