Disgruntled Employees: What Are They and What to Do?

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Disgruntled Employees: What are they and what to do?

There are many different reasons that you may need enhanced workplace security. The top reason being the safety of the people in the facility. In fact, there are many cases of workplace violence caused by disgruntled employees that lead to the death of innocent people. While this problem has been recognized across all industries and there are always hopes that the last incident will indeed be just that — the last incident, this is rarely the case. Even minor cases of disgruntled employees can escalate into situations that grab headlines. Proactivity is key to preventing these dangerous situations. Part of proactivity means understanding what leads to employee happiness.

Unsurprisingly, a thriving organization is fueled by happy employees. In fact, happy employees are frequently more productive than unhappy employees. This means that there is a positive impact of happiness on the workplace, where sales increase, productivity increases, and task accuracy increases. Employee happiness contributes to employee engagement, which influences the entire workplace.

Signs of a Disgruntled Employee

There are layers in the signs of a disgruntled employee. It’s important to be able to identify early signs of disgruntled employees in order to avoid escalation and, potentially, violence. Common signs include:

  • Decreased motivation or involvement with other employees
  • Tardiness
  • Excessive breaks
  • Negative demeanor and attitude
  • Pursuit of other work
  • Unreasonable complaints about the job
  • Negative feedback from coworkers
  • Verbal abuse
  • Strained relationships at the workplace
  • Comments about violent acts
  • Increased personal life or financial issues

Causes of Employees Becoming Disgruntled

There are different environments, triggers, and situations that lead to employees being disgruntled. Here are a few:

  • Being treated disrespectfully. Everyone wants to be treated with respect. If an employee is already having problems, being treated disrespectfully potentially worsens the attitude of the employee. This can lead to a major escalation of a minor situation.
  • Not being recognized for a job well done. Employees need to know their efforts are appreciated. Therefore, when they aren’t recognized periodically, they can become discontent, which can lead to employees becoming disgruntled.
  • Working in an environment that engages in favoritism. Employees need to be treated equally based on rank. This means that two employees that have the same responsibilities need to be treated the same. If one is treated with more favors or with special privileges, there is an increased risk of employees that aren’t treated that way being disgruntled. This is across all ranks.
  • Receives a poor performance review. Productivity is a critical part of the success of any company. Many companies also use performance reviews to determine bonuses, raises, or promotions (and sometimes demotions). Therefore, if an employee was expecting a raise but received a poor performance review, that individual may become disgruntled.
  • Being bullied. Bullying is a major problem in today’s society. Some think that this only occurs in children, but adults are frequently bullied in the workplace. This can contribute to problems in the workplace. If the bullying becomes too severe, the situation may escalate rapidly.
  • Being harassed. This doesn’t mean sexual harassment alone, although this is a major contributor. This can also involve verbal harassment or emotional harassment. These are similar to bullying, but could be as simple as being pressured to go on a date. Problems may escalate as the harassment continues or becomes more severe.
  • Being stuck in a position. While not all employees want to climb a corporate ladder, most do want financial compensation that is related to their skills, experience, and education. Therefore, if there is no advancement possible, or the employee has gone as far as they can and do not expect more financial gain, the employee may become disgruntled.
  • Experiencing domestic issues. This does not only refer to marital or familial issues. This can relate to personal health, financial, social, and other issues. These issues can spill over into the workplace, leading to increased issues.

Maintaining Workplace Safety

To create the safest environment, you may need both security officers and guards. You also need procedures in place if you have a disgruntled employee and address the situation as it deserves. Here are some additional steps:

  • React quickly. Management must react quickly to the identification of situations and/or issues that can lead to or have already created atmospheres that contribute to employees becoming disgruntled. If this involves employee termination, have it all set up so the former employee does not need to return to the office.
  • Be empathetic. Management needs to try to see the point of view of the disgruntled employee, even if they don’t agree with it. It’s important to understand the motive and cause of distress.
  • Be stern. Install a zero-tolerance policy regarding violent behavior. This involves discussing the situation in full and potential repercussions of continuing behavior.
  • Document everything. Official documentation must be kept regarding the situation, including employee demeanor, conversations held, and disciplinary actions. This can help provide protection if there are future incidents.
  • Maintain confidentiality. Only discuss the situation with management and those directly involved.
  • Installing security. Security is a key element for managing disgruntled employees and does not simply involve being “muscle” in physical confrontation. Security is important for protecting all individuals in the facility, including the disgruntled employee, wherever possible. When considering how to protect the workplace, it is important to work with a professional security team to determine where there are strengths and weaknesses, as well as how to turn the weaknesses into strengths.
Disgruntled Employees: What are they and what to do?

Regardless of the situation, even disgruntled employees deserve compassion and consideration. In fact, this can be the thing that keeps a situation from becoming deadly.


As an employer, you won’t be able to make every employee happy at all times. However, now you know what causes employees to become disgruntled, how to prevent it, and how to keep your workplace safe. One of the most important things you can do to ensure the safety of your people, including customers, is hiring security. We can help you make decisions about the type of security you need. Contact us today to see how we can help you create a safer workplace.

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