The Great Resignation: How to Tell If Your Employees are Unhappy and What to Do About It

Managers that spot these signs and offer support can prevent turnover
Insight Timer is the top free meditation app on iOS and Android.
Insight Timer is the top free meditation app on iOS and Android.
In the United States in April, employees quitting their jobs reached a record high and experts termed it the ‘Great Resignation’. A global research study then revealed more than 40% of employees worldwide would consider leaving their jobs this year.
Unhappiness at work stems from a myriad of places but it always manifests in the same ways. Managers that look out for these signs may be able to prevent turnover by providing support and solutions for the root problem. 
Keeping your employees happy avoids lost productivity and saves time and money spent on recruiting and training new hires. Prevent a culture of unhappiness by learning what to look for, and what to do to prevent misery at the office.

Telltale Signs Your Employees are Unhappy

When an employee is unhappy, they’re unlikely to communicate their dissatisfaction in a clear, direct manner. Power dynamics, fear of losing their job or being judged for their negativity, or a lack of healthy communication between managers and staff can all contribute to a hesitancy to complain. But there are other ways your staff might be showing their discomfort.

Productivity Declines

Unhappy employees are less excited about applying effort to company causes. You might notice employees arriving later or leaving earlier. An uptick in missed work days, or lack of attendance at non-mandatory events can indicate unhappiness. Missed deadlines, a change in quality or quantity of work, and more frequent mistakes are all signs your staff may be losing interest.

Complaints Increase

An increase in employee or customer complaints can be a sign that your workers are unhappy. If your team is communicating their dissatisfaction, listen. Complaints may center on coworkers, schedules, the work or the office, but any and all complaints are signs that something’s wrong.

Creativity Declines

Enthusiastic employees are invested in contributing to the company’s success. This spurs creativity and new ideas. A decline in staff-driven suggestions can mean your employees no longer feel their ideas are valued, heard or considered.

The Energy Shifts

When an otherwise chatty, high energy office becomes quiet, it could be a sign that something’s changing. Likewise, an increase in office drama, conflict among staff, or palpable tension are all signals that unhappiness is spreading and resentments are building. Trust your intuition if you feel something has shifted among your staff.

How Managers Can Prevent Unhappiness

Communicating openly with your employees at the very first sign of distress can nip unhappiness in the bud. Early communication also demonstrates your attentiveness and willingness to listen. This makes employees far more likely to come to you in the future when something is wrong.
Setting up regular, casual check-ins is a good idea. Some companies have even abandoned the annual performance review in favor of these more frequent meetings, which are more amenable to two-way communication.
In addition, managers, supervisors and leaders should ask themselves the following questions on a regular basis:

Are My Employees Aware Their Work is Meaningful?

Even monotonous, repetitive jobs can be meaningful if employees are aware of what they’re contributing to and how their efforts matter. Keeping everyone aware of the mission, and their role in it, helps maintain a fresh sense of purpose.

Does My Staff Feel Valued?

Money isn’t the sole means by which we feel valued for our time. Offering health benefits and paid time off helps staff feel valued. Communicating your gratitude and intentionally recognizing efforts and achievements also goes a long way.

Am I Easy to Approach and Communicate With?

A relationship between employer and employee doesn’t need to be friendly or personal to be effective. Demonstrating you’re available, practicing mindful listening, and being respectful of others’ ideas can make your staff feel more comfortable and more likely to approach you.

Am I Understanding and Empathetic?

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Empathetic leaders are more likely to clearly communicate expectations, gather consensus before presenting changes, and offer flexible work policies. An office culture of putting others first starts at the top and leads to greater worker satisfaction.

Am I Invested in the Personal Development of My Workers?

A healthier, happier and wiser staff benefits everyone, including the company’s bottom line. Offering training and career development opportunities, social events, or wellness activities like in-office meditation not only make employees feel valued, but improves office morale.
Invest in employee happiness and you’ll not only save time and money, but you and your staff will avoid unnecessary hardship and stress.
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