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The Ugly Truth: Every Team Has Unhappy Employees

11.29.2016
Here’s an eye-opening statistic for business leaders. According to a 2013 Gallup study, an astounding 70% of American workers report feeling disengaged or unhappy at their jobs. 

While executives are busy wrapping up end-of-year business, some of their employees are waiting for the right time to make a move to what they perceive to be greener pastures. During the month of December, many employees are content to take their unused vacation days or wait for their end of year bonus. However, come January even your best employees may be looking for a new job. 

Even employees who report feeling engaged and happy in their jobs are prone to a “new year, new me” inspired job search. The new year is a common time for individuals to reflect on areas of their lives that need improvement. Career concerns are usually high on the list, right behind get fit/get healthy resolutions. There are several reasons employees may be asking themselves some tough questions… “Am I getting paid enough? Is my career moving forward or am I just waiting for an opportunity that may not arise?” “Do I want to shovel snow off my driveway to get to work every morning? Why isn’t Hawaii an option?” 

What’s making your employees unhappy?

Before we give our suggestions on how to turn it around, let’s discuss some of the top reasons employees report being unhappy in their jobs. 
 
• Unsurprisingly, money is at the top of the listed complaints
 
• Desire for greater autonomy – often this is a general complaint about lack of work/life balance

• Unclear goals, no skin in the game – employees need to understand how their role affects the bigger picture and how their work contributes to the company’s bottom line

• Lack of career growth – no one wants to see themselves in a “dead-end job”

• Bad relationship with boss or co-workers – leaders who don’t know how to lead and toxic co-workers are a common complaint at many companies
 
What can you do as a manager to have happier employees?

1) Encourage Time Off – One of the single-most important things managers can do is to encourage employees to use their vacation time. According to a 2014 survey by Glassdoor, U.S. employees only use 51 percent of their paid vacation days and PTO time, and this percentage is even lower for America’s CEOs. 

2) Promote your company culture for higher employee engagement

3) Set attainable goals – employees are often motivated by opportunities for promotion, so be clear about whether they are a candidate for advancement, and share information on high priority goals for both the company and the individual employee.

4) Encourage training or career development opportunities – alongside setting clear goals, allowing employees to advance their knowledge or training in their field goes a long way to overall career satisfaction.

5) Provide an outlet for honest feedback, without a negative impact on employees who report problems with their work load, colleagues or problems reaching goals.

6) The devil is in the details. You don’t have to have pricey perks, it can be as simple as employees having the flexibility to telecommute or set their own hours, or company events that make employees feel appreciated. We have written previously about how even small details can make a difference.

While some employees will be unhappy almost anywhere they work, you can reduce turnover that is so common in the first quarter of the year. Managers can have a positive and lasting impact on their employees’ career happiness and save the company from the cost of high turnover. 


 
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