What Makes People Unhappy at Work?

Tuesday September 11th, 2018

You can’t make everybody happy. It’s just a simple truth that we hear all the time. With diverse personalities, opinions and beliefs, we are not likely to all be satisfied by the same things. That’s okay – that’s life. But that idea simply doesn’t translate into the work place when you are in a position of leadership. You can make everybody happy if you care enough to learn what’s making them unhappy and use your position to impact positive change for the betterment of the team.

Working to improve the things that make your employees unhappy at work not only benefits them, but it benefits you and the company as well. Employee retention rates have been dropping steadily for years, as workers are stepping out into the job market to seek more ideal positions. Your goal as a leader should be to root out the sources of unhappiness within your company and focus your efforts on turning them around.

Take a look at these three major sources of unhappiness in the workplace today and consider how you can prevent them from negatively impacting your team.

Feeling Stagnant

The Problem: Working the same job day in and day out is not just exhausting, it’s boring. Many workers today are struggling with a feeling of stagnancy, which ultimately leads them to look for new, more exciting opportunities elsewhere.

It’s important for your employees to feel like there is a purpose to their work, and a trajectory that they can progress along towards bigger and better opportunities within the company. Without having something to work towards, it’s easy to understand how employees might begin to feel dissatisfied with their positions.

The Solution: Focus your efforts on creating opportunities for continuous education and training for your employees. Give them the opportunity to grow and develop within the company and demonstrate your appreciation for their hard work by promoting from within instead of hiring new talent for upper-level positions. Communicate regularly with each employee about their progress and the future opportunities that they are working toward to help them feel secure in their positions and have a sense of purpose in their work.

Feeling Overworked

The Problem: Overworked employees often become burned out employees, usually requiring extra sick days to recharge their batteries. Employees can often feel obligated to stay late, work through lunches or come in on days off to meet strict deadlines or compensate for low-performing coworkers. It puts a strain on the relationships between employees and impacts how those employees may feel about their management team and the company in general.

The feelings of being overworked can often accompany the feelings of stagnancy if an employee is working overtime with no reward or opportunity for promotion. Nobody likes to feel like they are being taken advantage of and it becomes very easy for that feeling to evolve into a desire to seek employment elsewhere.

The Solution: Create an employee wellness initiative that emphasizes the importance of taking time off, taking regular breaks and leaving the office at a reasonable hour – and stick to it. Policies are only effective if enforced and a policy that focuses on the wellness of your employees will be well-received. It demonstrates your concern for their physical and mental health and eliminates the likelihood that they will overwork themselves to a level of burnout.

Feeling Stifled

The Problem: Many employees experience a sensation of feeling stifled if open communication is not a priority within the workplace. They may have fresh ideas but not feel encouraged to share them, or they may have experienced a negative interaction with a coworker but may not know who to turn to for resolution. Working in an environment where you feel your voice is unheard is understandably frustrating and unsettling for employees. It makes them feel under-appreciated and disrespected, prompting them to look elsewhere for a job that allows them to speak freely and feel supported.

The Solution: Prioritize open communication in the workplace by initiating important conversations with your employees. Ask for their opinions and check in regularly on their well-being. Invite them to share their ideas in team meetings and communicate a procedure for airing their grievances. But above all, when they speak, truly listen.

Perhaps you can’t solve everyone’s problems all the time – and maybe you shouldn’t be expected to. But you are a leader, and it is your job to listen, understand and demonstrate a willingness to make changes that improve the work lives of your employees. A little can go a long way in satisfying the employees who look to you to set the tone for the rest of the company. Maybe you can’t make everybody happy, but with the rate at which employee retention rates are dropping, you can’t afford not to try.

This article was tagged with: employee, unhappy, retention