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How To Handle Unhappy Employees

Updated on April 15, 2013

Some unhappy employees do this . . .

resort to using signs to advertise their company's shortcoming's to the public
resort to using signs to advertise their company's shortcoming's to the public | Source

These are groups of workers who can be angry employees

Central America port workers
Central America port workers | Source
Grocery store workers
Grocery store workers | Source
City employees
City employees | Source
Hotel housekeeping employees
Hotel housekeeping employees | Source
School teachers
School teachers | Source
Meat packers
Meat packers | Source


Mighty tough. So tough that even the stoutest-of-hearted bosses cringe with dread when the mere mention of a situation with an unhappy employee surfaces.

In realistic terms, who really wants the burden of having to deal with one, maybe two or more employees who are so disgruntled with their jobs, salaries and working conditions that they really don't care if they work or not.


  • Calling in to report they are sick even if they are "healthy as horses."
  • Always frowning when they do show up for work--never smiling.
  • Talking in negative terms about the company at breaks and lunch time.
  • Turning other "dedicated" employees against the company and each other.

These are danger signs. Dark signs that a friendly, "Hi, Carl. How's it going?" Will not help. Office workers and industrial workplaces have now become so far-evolved past the friendly, "buddy, buddy" image projected by bosses, that some companies have ceased using the friendly approach to defuse potential problems arising from the mouths of unhappy employees.


Note to human resources managers, personnel managers and office managers: this segment may prove crucial and yet helpful to you if you are new on the job and not accustomed to dealing with unhappy workers.

  • Slow-down of products manufactured by workers intentionally taking their time to perform their tasks. Their thinking is: "well, 'the man,' can't fire us all
  • Smearing the company's public image by talking vulgar about their jobs and bosses while off the job. In most bar rooms and clubs, if you see a group of guys and girls congregating in one place, it's very possible they are cursing and putting down their companies due to some infraction or some misunderstanding that has mushroomed into a huge problem
  • Lack of clients caused by the unhappy employees' verbal attacks of the people who own and run their companies. And we all know that a lack of clients, if not checked, can lead to lay-off's, loss of revenues, and sadly, a sad shut-down of the company.

Who needs this in the economy of 2013 who is "getting it's infant legs" again? No one. Both the workforce and the management needs to rearm themselves through positive information, refreshing themselves on communication systems among company channels and just plain being on a simple plane with each other.

In the yesteryear of American workers . . .

formed labor unions that sometimes led the unhappy workers to organize and go on "strikes" against their companies
formed labor unions that sometimes led the unhappy workers to organize and go on "strikes" against their companies | Source


You need help. Quick. Being unhappy on, or about your job, is not a healthy mindset. I know. I, along with millions of others in America have experienced "job unhappiness," and friend, it cannot get better unless your problem or problems are addressed then solved if possible.

Take a good look at what YOU are doing by being an unhappy employee

  • Your anger is going to, sooner or later, start affecting your marriage. And your relationship with your children. Remember, they are not the root of your unhappiness caused on your job. Your wife and kids did not force you to take this job that is causing you so much distress. You made the choice.
  • Your mental health is also being affected by this job-related anger caused by a coworker getting a promotion that you thought you needed or a raise you didn't get. Or any number of problems you are trying to juggle and still do a good job because you don't want to be labeled a "troublemaker"
  • Your life that once a happy life, is now a life of bitterness, resentment and it is actually "killing" you little by little.


This is 2013, not the late 50's. Big companies, even some smaller ones, have undergone numerous management and labor workshops on this one subject: Unhappy Employees and The Answers, so do not panic. There is help for you.

"awww, I just want a fair shake from my company and don't want my coworkers to know what problem I am having," you might be saying.

And this one mental attitude is keeping you down, friend. Sounds silly now that you read it, right? Well, am I right? Haven't you went into work for over 22 years with this same mindset of "only wanting the company to be fair to you and being worthy of your confidence?"

But yet you still suffer in silence while trying to paint a pretty face each morning when you show up for work.

Friend, the paint is run dry. It's time to be honest with yourself and and see if I am right on any of my tips to get you the help you need at your job.


  • Be truthful with your boss. Go to him and be humble-hearted. Set up a private meeting with him, or her. Then prepare yourself for this meeting although you and the boss have been good friends for years. Remember, this is business and that has nothing to do with your friendship with the boss.
  • Draw-up an outline of what is bothering you at your job. Bosses respect an employee who takes the time to make an honest diagram to present his or her presentation to the company representative in order to get himself or herself unburdened from this "briar under their saddle," and once again be happy with their work.
  • Keep this in mind: Could be that your boss does not know anything about what is bothering you. Did you ever think of that? Just because he buys "Carl," a trusted coworker his lunch everyday off the work site, does not mean that you aren't a valuable employee. Maybe the boss and "Carl" are talking about doing a two-man comedy show for charity. The thing for you to keep abreast of is that when you go to your boss, it's all about you.
  • Settle down before you sit-down with your boss. No boss loves to encounter an angry, upset employee who cannot present his or her problem for cursing and breaking the boss' office chairs. Be calm. Be open-minded. Your boss may not solve your problem, but at least you have made him or her aware of it. That, my friend, is a big help.


  • Do not show the sad employee just how much power you have. Employees are not stupid animals who will follow anyone. Today's employee is smarter and wiser than the employee of the early "sweat shops," mines, and car plants where bosses carried a club and a hateful word for all the workers to make them "work in fear," not in job appreciation.
  • Do not talk a lot. Listen more. The employee probably has stored-up this problem for months, maybe years, and he or she needs time to get it out of their system, so sit back, listen intently and take notes to refer back to when it's your turn to talk.
  • Do not condemn or make light of the employee's problem. To them, it's a heavy burden to bear and you might be the only ma or woman in management who knows how to solve this problem for them.
  • Do not use idle threats like, "no way you can feel cheated, Bob! Now get back to work or I will fire you," or "you cry baby. Your coworkers are all tough men and women and suffering more than you, so suck it up and get to work!"
  • Do not offer the unhappy employee false hope. If you cannot help them, just be honest and tell them that you are not able to honor their request, but do tell them that their confidence in you and the company will not be betrayed.


If a "one-on-one," approach doesn't work, and then you, as the boss or human resources/personnel manager discovers that this, what you thought was one problem carried by one employee is actually office or plant-wide, and a group-negotiation is in order, both the angry employees and management need to remember . . .

  • Do not negotiate with emotions. One side of this two-way negotiation is already upset, don't make it two.
  • Do not yell at each other across the bargaining table. There is not one thing wrong with the two parties being civil, friendly, and even cordial to each other.
  • Do not make snap-judgments. And do not assume that the other side is "out for blood." if you both enter into negotiations with this thinking, you are wasting your time. A friendly, relaxed tone of voice accompanied by a simple Power Point presentation always makes more progress than a shouting match.
  • Do not dress-flashy if you are in management. A way to show the angry employees that you were once where they are, is so dress like the worker they are. You might be surprised at how much can be accomplished by leaving your $200-dollar tie at home along with your BMW and $1200-dollar designer suit.
  • Both sides let the other side talk and get their points of concern "out on the table." Do not whisper to the person next to you. This is so much like high school, so be adult in your listening as well as talking.


  • Shake hands with each other. You are both in the company to make a living.
  • If you are the boss, make absolutely sure that there are no pockets of hidden resentment by anyone, because a little resentment is what got you here with the angry employees.
  • If you are the boss, you and your management team offer to buy lunch or dinner for everyone who had a part in the negotiations.
  • Be friendly regardless of how the meetings turn-out. There is no room in the workplace for violence by the workers or bosses.


  • Resign your position with an honorable two-week notice to give your bosses time to train someone to take your place. Do not leave out of spite. Like I said earlier, there is no such thing as a "super boss who knows everything," so if you think your boss has cheated you by not solving your problem, leave before real trouble sets in.
  • Talk to your boss about him or her helping you transfer to another branch of their company or maybe transfer you to another job in the firm. Sometimes a simple transfer and retraining an employee has solved many angry employees' problems and made them a much-happier, more-productive worker.
  • Use your contacts to help set-up interviews with other employers and when you are being interviewed by a potential new boss, talk good about your old bosses. Be sure that you tell your new boss you are only leaving your company due to "your" dislike for the job, not the people who pay you.
  • Do not lay-around your house after you quit your job. This too is a dangerous thing to do. If you hop on the "Laziness Express," you might not get a new job at all and lose your home, family, and self-respect.
  • Do pay a call on the local career centers in your town if you have one. If not, try the Unemployment Office in your town, Many times they have people looking for new employees, so you really have good options to use in getting a new job.


  • Find out EVERYTHING that is expected of you at this new work site. And if you see something you don't like in the new company offer, tell the boss up-front, then and there. "Bottling up" your problem was what got you here.
  • "Dress for success." This, as they say in 2013, "is not your first rodeo," so relax, listen to the new boss, take notes on what you will be doing, how much training you will have to do and how much of a salary or hourly-wage you will be paid.
  • Do not start-off with hateful-threats such as: "now listen. If I don't start off making $45.00 an hour, I'm gone." Yes, you will, be gone. In a matter of minutes. Confidence is one thing. Cockiness is another. Bosses hate the latter.
  • If your new boss will agree, ask if you can go home and talk his offer over with the wife. This sounds wimpy, but "she" and the kids will be as much a part of your new job as you. So letting the new boss the day after your interview is acceptable, so if all parties in your life are comfortable with your potential new career, call the new boss. Early the next day. He will remember your punctuality.

I hope I have been able to help one or all of you. And I wish you the best in your endeavors in finding a new job if that is what will stop you from being an "angry employee."

Sincerely, KENNETH

This girl employee is actually "on strike" . . .

which can only hurt her, her coworkers, and her company
which can only hurt her, her coworkers, and her company | Source


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Mr. Avery,

      I can appreciate what you have written, as well as provided for advice. Everything that you have written as effects for an unhappy employee are true. I'm trying to get past it, although I am having a difficult time with it all. I believe that the issue that I'm having is that I feel that management was not forthcoming with me in my reassignment. They have always been happy with my performance, which I have been complimented on time and time again. With the current climate, I was asked then forced to take another position within the company. The only reason I did not accept the position in the beginning was that it is not my professional background and did not in sense want to start over. I believed that I at the very least deserved the professional courtesy of management being honest with me. As you have mentioned, I don't have a problem with work in general, although, its difficult to have a smily face right now. I have spoken to my director and he did say he would place me in one of the positions I believed suited me better. I'm disappointed with the fact that I don't know how long that will be and myself that I haven't been able to handle this change better and quicker.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, teaches12345,

      Thank you so much for your warm comments. I sincerely appreciate you as an friend, and as a super-talented writer.

      Come back anytime. You are always welcome.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      5 years ago

      You have posted a very useful article for those in management who deal with unhappy employees daily. Your tips are winners in helping to understand the employee perspective and how to manage for better results.

    • profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      5 years ago

      Hi, Yoga,

      Thank you so very much for your comment that made me feel good about this hub.

      I won't forget it,

    • YogaKat profile image


      5 years ago from Oahu Hawaii

      Thanks Kenneth Avery. I am fortunate to be a happy employee. Your advice is so inspiring. I will definitely pass your advice on to my son who is job hunting.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dearest Catgypsy,

      Thank you for your comment and confidience in me. Oops, I got the segment on what bosses are to do about explosive, angry employees who use fists, clubs and rocks to get attention.

      Oh well. "Back to the drawing keyboard."

      Festus sends Honey a wink.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hello, MsDora,

      Thanks to you also, for your nice comments. You all have made me feel good today. God bless you all.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Well, well, LuckyCats!

      Where have you been for so long? I have missed you. Oh, let me guess. You wrote a best-seller, an in-depth novel about cats, right? At any rate. How have you been? Are you well?

      Thanks so much, dear LC, for the super-warm comments and votes!

      I shall treasure your comments and votes.

      And listen. Do not be a stranger. Keep in touch.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, writinglover,

      Thank you for your sharing of your experience of a job that made you dizzy. I had jobs like that. And bosses who loved to show their power and not listen to me or my coworkers. The turn over was ridiculous.

      That was in the late 70's when jobs weren't hard to find.

      In the 80's, 90's and even until I got out, or had to get out of the workforce in 2000, bosses and management for the most part, were still "Mr. Big Stuff," but the Fed's made it easier for employees to not be harassed or cheated.

      Im glad to hear from you, writinglover and you tell "Wonder Woman," that "Superman," said last night that he was THINKING OF HER.


    • catgypsy profile image


      5 years ago from the South

      Great hub! You covered both sides of it well. Very useful information and great solutions.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Very good article. I especially like the section on addressing the problems. Solving the problem is more important that displaying power. The pictures are great too. Voted Up!

    • Lucky Cats profile image


      5 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi Kenny....well, this is the perfect primer for first time employees, bosses, irate or disappointed employees, disenchanted workers w/tenure as well as job've covered it all. In today's economy and w/technology taking many of the manual jobs....and also, manufacturing positions...we must all be careful and mindful of our attitude and how we effect not only ourselves but the workplace, as well. Great all around 411, Kenneth...very well done. UP Interesting and Useful.

    • writinglover profile image


      5 years ago from Lost...In Video Games

      Hi, Kenneth! This was very useful. When I first started out at my job as a dietary aide, I was feeling overwhelmed taking on kitchen duties and just about had it. Thankfully, I had a kind boss to talk to and she helped me out a lot. Voted up useful! Wonder Woman says 'hi' to you and Superman! :D


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