6 Signs that you have a disgruntled employee lurking in your office

6 Signs that you have a disgruntled employee lurking in your office

Have you ever had an employee quit without any notice? It is frustrating and can leave your whole office feeling a bit uneasy. You end up having to scramble to hire a replacement, resulting in some hasty decisions that you may regret later. Plus it causes extra work for the other employees who have to pick up the slack.


Here’s the good news- when it comes to your employees, they will give you signs to show how invested they are in your company and your process. More often than not, your employees have been showing you they are ready for a change but you haven’t seen the signs. So here are some things that you can and should watch for:

  • Coming in late to work
  • Not completing assignments
  • Becoming disengaged
  • Not joining the group for lunches out
  • Suddenly seeming apathetic
  • Doing the minimum requirements of the job when they had previously been proactive in helping the office reach goals


So, you’ve seen the signs. Now what?


I can’t emphasize this next point enough: once you see these signs, ADDRESS THEM! If your employee is suddenly not joining the team for Fun Friday Lunches or they seem uninterested in being part of the team, ask them about it. Find out if something is bothering them or making them unhappy in their position. Even great employees can experience burnout. By addressing the things you see, you get an opportunity to show them you care about them and want to make things better for them and for the office as a whole. 


Here is an example of how the conversation could start:


“Hi Sarah, I wanted to talk with you for a minute about some things that I have been noticing. Last week you were coming in a little late and leaving early. I have also seen that you don’t seem to be enjoying spending time with the other employees and aren’t as proactive in your work as you used to be. I’ve been doing this for a long time and often when I see changes like this, it can mean that you aren’t happy in your position or something is going on at home or you are thinking about making a change in employment. So I just wanted to check in with you so we can get on the same page and see how I can best support you. If you are thinking about leaving, that’s OK. We are sad to see you go but I understand that life happens and sometimes people need a change.  If you are thinking about making a change, I would appreciate a little notice so that our office can compensate appropriately to your absence.”


Having this sort of straightforward, “we care about you, am I reading this wrong?” conversation can help you avoid feeling constantly on guard with the employee. You can feel confident in where you stand with them and avoid feeling frustrated with them or being extra critical of their work.


If it turns out that there are some issues going on at home, you can offer support to them so that they can feel like work is a place of sanctuary from those home stressors. Allow them to have the opportunity to leave those things at the door and have a safe space to work.


Alternatively, you may find out there are some issues going on in the office that need to be addressed and they just weren’t sure how to talk to you about them. 


My last bit of advice to you as a leader is to work hard to avoid having disgruntled employees in the first place. Try asking yourself these two questions:

  1. How can I make my team members love what they are doing?
  2. What can I do to help my team members be more engaged?

Remember, your employees are showing up every day to make YOUR dreams come true. I challenge you to find some way to show your appreciation for them every day. It doesn’t have to be big, small gestures go a long way. But find something that shows you care about them and are grateful for their contributions.