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The Empuls Glossary

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Disgruntled Employee

Disgruntled employees are dissatisfied, frustrated, or unhappy with either the job or organizational culture. They may portray signs like negative attitudes, decreased productivity, absenteeism, or engaging in detrimental behaviors. This may happen because of job-related issues, organizational concerns, or interpersonal conflicts.

Who is a disgruntled employee?

A disgruntled employee is an individual who has grievances and is dissatisfied or unhappy with the culture of the organization or job responsibilities. Disgruntled employees may display a passive attitude, express grievances, or exhibit behaviors that display dissatisfaction.

Listen, recognize, award, and retain your employees with our Employee engagement software  

What are the characteristics of a disgruntled employee?

The characteristics of disgruntled employees can vary from individual to individual; the most common signs and behaviors that may indicate are:

  1. Pessimistic attitude
  2. Low self-esteem
  3. Low productivity
  4. Increased absenteeism
  5. Isolation
  6. Complaints and grievances

      1. Pessimistic attitude: Disgruntled employees often display a consistent pessimistic attitude toward the work or colleagues, such as complaining behavior          established, criticizing decisions, or expressing discontentment.

      2. Low self-esteem: Exhibiting a decrease in morale and self-esteem is one of the common characteristics seen; they may appear disengaged, lack enthusiasm, or           have the least interest in work.

      3. Low productivity: Grievance can exhibit an employee's level of productivity and performance, such as a decline in work output, not meeting deadlines, or low           quality of work.

      4. Increased absenteeism: Disgruntled employees show higher rates of absenteeism and are more likely to take sick leave or personal days off.

      5. Isolation: Since the basic behavior is withdrawal, disgruntled employees avoid participating in team activities or interactions with colleagues.

      6. Complaints and grievances: These employees often voice their complaints and grievances about work-related issues and express dissatisfaction towards                      workload, compensation, or job.

How to identify a disgruntled employee?

Identifying a disgruntled employee can be important for employers and manage to address concerns; some of the ways to identify a disgruntled employee are as follows:

  1. Increased tardiness
  2. Change in behavior
  3. Negative attitude and communication
  4. Isolation from social interaction
  5. The decline in personal hygiene
  6. Negative attitude and communication

     1. Increased tardiness: Keeping track of any pattern of increased tardiness or absenteeism or arriving late at work. Disgruntled employees often try to avoid the                   workplace or show a lack of commitment.

     2. Change in behavior: Being attentive to any noticeable change in behavior, such as negativity, frequent complaints, reduced interaction, and other such behaviors.

     3. Negative attitude and communication: Changing attitude towards the job or colleagues is also a sign of disgruntled behavior, constant complaining, and criticism.          Exhibiting poor communication or unwillingness to collaborate with others are also signs of disgruntled behavior.

     4. Isolation from social interaction: Observe the employee’s attitude towards their fellow employees, jobs, and the workplace. Look for the signs such as constant                  cribbing, complaining, or other negative behavior.

     5. The decline in personal hygiene: This is seen in rare cases; a noticeable decline in personal hygiene may indicate decreased motivation or isolation in the          workplace.

     6. Negative attitude and communication: One may see a change in the attitude towards the job, organization, or co-workers, which may also include complaining,          cribbing, or communication gaps.

How to handle a disgruntled employee?

Some steps to handle disgruntled employees empathetically and thoughtfully are as follows:

  1. Attentive listening
  2. Pay attention to the underlying concern.
  3. Be supportive
  4. Provide solutions
  5. Make clear communication
  6. Address issues promptly
  7. Foster a positive work culture.
  8. Follow- up
  9. Seek feedbacks

      1. Attentive listening: Establishing a rapport with the employee and allowing them to express their concern openly, pay attention to their concern and be           empathetic towards them.

      2. Pay attention to the underlying concern: Gaining knowledge about the underlying concern and the root cause of their unsatisfactory behavior. This can be           done by asking questions and gaining insights about their perspective.

      3. Be supportive: Reassure the employee and assure them their concerns are being addressed.

      4. Provide solutions: Engage in positive conversations with the other employees to come up with a solution, having an effective decision-making process to make          them feel heard and have a sense of control.

     5. Make clear communication: Foster open lines of conversation throughout the process, such as updating on the process and being transparent about the          limitations.

     6. Address issues promptly: Committing and resolving them promptly by addressing valid concerns and communicating the process taken to address          grievances.

      7. Foster positive work culture: Promoting positive work culture is essential for employees to work effectively, which involves open communication and well-          being.

      8. Follow-up: After the implementation of the process and addressing the underlying concerns, monitor the progress and their well-being. Conduct follow-ups          and regular check-ins to maintain a positive and healthy relationship with the employees.

      9. Seek Feedback: After the whole process takes place, encourage employees for feedback and share their experiences. They can also provide critical suggestions to          make positive changes.

How to protect yourself from disgruntled employees?

Some proactive measures to address the concern of disgruntled employees and steps to protect oneself are as follows:

  1. Encourage positive work culture
  2. Maintain clear policies and expectations.
  3. Effective leadership and communication
  4. Taking security measures
  5. Record performances and behavior
  6. Encourage employee assistance programs.

       1. Encourage positive work culture: A positive work environment fosters open communication and respect towards colleagues; this can be done by encouraging            teamwork, making employees feel recognized, and promptly acting on the issues.

        2. Maintain clear policies and expectations: The code of conduct, policies, and procedures should be communicated to employees beforehand so that               employees work concerning clear policies.

       3. Effective leadership and communication: Organizational must encourage training programs for supervisors and managers to promote effective leadership                         and employee engagement.

       4. Taking security measures: Appropriate security measures such as inserting security cameras or providing safety training which ensures the safety of employees             and the workplace.

       5. Record performances and behavior: The organization can maintain Proper records of employee performance and behavior as it may help protect employees            against any false claims and provide support for addressing claims.

       6. Encourage employee assistance programs: Encourage employee assistance programs (EAPs) that provide support and resources and help employees address            the issue before escalating.

What are the side effects of having a disgruntled employee on a team?

The side effects of having a disgruntled employee in a team are as follows:

  1. Reduced productivity
  2. Decreased job satisfaction
  3. Impact on team morale
  4. Less employee interaction
  5. Negative impact on the team

      1. Reduced productivity: Lack of motivation or less focus can disrupt the productivity of an individual as they are unsatisfied with the job or the work culture.

      2. Decreased job satisfaction: When disgruntled employees cannot express their dissatisfaction or address their concerns, they are unhappy with the team,           which may impact the team's job satisfaction.

      3. Impact on team morale: A disgruntled employee can hamper the whole team's morale, as their negative and unsatisfied behavior may influence the co- .           workers and lead to decreased focus and commitment towards the task.

      4. Less employee interaction: Disgruntled employees may isolate themselves from team meetings, avoid employee interaction, and be seen as less engaged in           their work.

       5. Negative impact on the team: The team dynamics may get disrupted, and repercussions have to be faced by team members, as disgruntled behavior can create           conflicts or toxic interactions among the team.

Employee pulse surveys:

These are short surveys that can be sent frequently to check what your employees think about an issue quickly. The survey comprises fewer questions (not more than 10) to get the information quickly. These can be administered at regular intervals (monthly/weekly/quarterly).

One-on-one meetings:

Having periodic, hour-long meetings for an informal chat with every team member is an excellent way to get a true sense of what’s happening with them. Since it is a safe and private conversation, it helps you get better details about an issue.


eNPS (employee Net Promoter score) is one of the simplest yet effective ways to assess your employee's opinion of your company. It includes one intriguing question that gauges loyalty. An example of eNPS questions include: How likely are you to recommend our company to others? Employees respond to the eNPS survey on a scale of 1-10, where 10 denotes they are ‘highly likely’ to recommend the company and 1 signifies they are ‘highly unlikely’ to recommend it.

Based on the responses, employees can be placed in three different categories:

  • Promoters
    Employees who have responded positively or agreed.
  • Detractors
    Employees who have reacted negatively or disagreed.
  • Passives
    Employees who have stayed neutral with their responses.

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