Is your workforce unhappy? How to spot the signs and make changes

Joe Henry
08.08.18 02:49 PM Comment(s)

Is your workforce unhappy? How to spot the signs and make changes

The corporate wellness movement is upon us, and not a minute too soon. Gone are the days of Gordon Gekko burnout culture: we’ve since learned the dangers of “presenteeism” and the detrimental effects an unhappy workforce can have.

For example, did you know an unhappy employee is likely to be 10 per cent less productive than a happy one? Conversely, businesses with a happy workforce reap the benefits of 26 per cent higher revenues on average. These figures alone are justification enough to start investing in our employees’ happiness.

How to spot an unhappy employee

Chances are, unless your employee is already out the door, he or she is not going to run around shouting about his or her unhappiness. This is why managers need to be particularly attentive and run regular one-to-one sessions, looking out for signs such as:


Presenteeism is something that’s to be discouraged just as much as tardiness. However, if your employee is more bothered about clocking out on the dot than staying five minutes to complete a task, this should raise alarm bells. A desire to get the job done is the hallmark of a happy employee.

Increased sick days

Turning up late and leaving on time is one thing, but not turning up altogether is even worse! Of course, we all genuinely get ill from time to time, but if you notice an increased amount of absences, this could be down to your employee simply not being able to face the office or worse still, going for interviews.

Lack of involvement

Team building days, barbecues and Christmas parties are all great ways to socialise outside of work, but if your employee suddenly stops turning up, they could be on their way out. It’s not just parties either – look out for decreased productivity and a lack of contributions in meetings. A disgruntled team member will have little interest in socialising with people with whom he/she no longer wants to work.

Others start to become affected

Toxic attitudes can spread like wildfire – misery loves company, they say, so look out to see if your employee’s closest confidants suddenly appear fatigued or unmotivated. Alternatively, they may start to become annoyed with others who aren’t pulling their weight. Neither of these situations is ideal so keep a keen eye on any changes – otherwise you might soon start to hear complaints from customers, too.

No interest in career progression

You’re almost past the point of no return with this one – if you’ve offered your team member incentives and he/she still isn’t interested, that’s a sure-fire sign that a resignation letter is on the horizon. However, there are ways you can turn this around.

How you and your recruiter can help

Naturally, we want all employees to be happy from the start and as they progress throughout their career. This starts with your recruiter – choosing an exclusive recruiter will ensure that not only is your employee hired, but also that he/she has “check-in” calls with the recruitment agent to make sure everything is running smoothly. Somebody relatively new to a job might feel more comfortable discussing any issues with a recruiter, where they will be dealt with confidentially, while the recruiter can empower them to make positive changes if they are unhappy.

From your personal point of view as a manager, you need to check in with your team as individuals and as a group. If you’re offering good rates of pay, ask yourself, does the company culture need revising? It is always advisable to carry out regular one-to-ones to ensure your team members are happy, but also to encourage that they report any issues confidentially. You may find that a lot of people are struggling with the same problems – a benchmarking survey is a great way to measure this anonymously.

Don’t just talk – listen

Part of a recruiter’s job is to listen, not only to your requirements as a hirer but to the candidate. Try to take the same approach – encourage a free, non-judgemental dialogue. If they want more money, give them a platform to explain why. If they want a change in company culture, assure them you’ve taken it on board and will consult with the rest of the team.

As we’ve seen above, unhappy employees are unproductive ones. Keep an eye out for these problems to make sure they don’t happen to you. It is best to encourage a positive workplace culture that works for everyone, so make sure you are there to listen when they need it most.

For more help with staff retention and motivation, contact Westminster Search today.


Westminster Search are experts in the recruitment of professionals across the Public Policy, Public Relations and Property sectors.

Direct Line: +44 (0) 207 692 8355

Mobile: +44 (0) 74 326 289 79


Linked In:\josephdavidhenry  


Twitter: @westsearch