Employee health and wellbeing is important; It promotes productivity, reduces staff turnover, cuts instances of absences, and improves the overall office environment. Unhappiness at work can be contagious. An unhappy employee can bring down a whole team.

So here are our 7 signs you have an unhappy employee and what you can do about it.

Once your employee is unhappy and having an impact on the business, it can be very difficult, and expensive, to bring them round again.

Decreased productivity, time spent managing conflict, and a higher turnover of staff are not only an HR headache, but can seriously, and rapidly, affect the bottom line of a business.

Spotting an unhappy employee and supporting them before they become miserable is worthwhile.

Why Is My Employee Unhappy?


woman at her desk with her head in her hands for blog by wellspace on 7 signs you have an unhappy employeeStaff can become disillusioned and unhappy at work for various reasons.

Perhaps they feel unsupported? Or maybe their job isn’t fulfilling.

People can also become unhappy if professional relationships aren’t gelling, or there is conflict in the office. Often, we see an entire department being affected by the attitude of one or two.

Regular or severe changes at work can cause dissatisfaction too, as staff struggle to adapt, or feel less secure.

In a perfect world, everyone would come to work and leave their troubles at the door. But that isn’t always possible.

Sometimes, personal problems can spill over into our professional life too. Financial, health, or relationship worries can make it hard for an employee to focus on their job and remain enthusiastic and diligent.

Whilst it can be tricky to unearth the reason for unhappiness at work, the signs are usually easy to spot.

How Can I tell If My Employee Is Unhappy?


1) They start voicing their concerns


An easy way to tell if a colleague is disgruntled is that they will usually say. They might not knock on your door and say ‘hi, I’m unhappy’, but they may well express displeasure or concern in some way about various aspects of their job, environment, or colleagues.

It is easy to dismiss this as moaning but listen carefully and you will start to see an overall picture.

Maybe they are dissatisfied with one specific element of their role, or one particular person. Knowing this will help you fix it.

If a colleague is becoming more vocal about their problems, it is time to start paying attention.


2) They become less productive


It is hard to motivate yourself to do something if your heart isn’t in it.

A colleague who is suddenly missing deadlines, completing less work, or even suddenly doing poor quality work is probably finding it difficult to motivate themselves.

Being unhappy, depressed, or stressed is a likely culprit here.

Regular appraisals, or even chatting to the colleague’s line manager will give you some indication if this is the case.


3) They seek appreciation through money


Looking to increase their salary or bonuses can sometimes be a sign that a colleague is unhappy.

Humans need to feel appreciated and fulfilled, and one way we demonstrate this at work is through money.

If a colleague is asking for a pay rise, bonus, or other benefits outside of their usual pay rise schedule, it can be an indicator they feel underappreciated, unfulfilled, or undervalued.

However, it is worth noting that not everyone who asks to increase their salary is fed up.


4) There is conflict with others

two men sittingback to back at work, representing blog by Wellspace on 7 signs you have an unhappy employee


This can either be a cause or an effect of an employee being unhappy at work.

Strained professional relationships with colleagues or clients can cause increased stress and anxiety for your staff.


This could be down to simply a clash in personalities, or perhaps a particular event has triggered animosity.

A colleague who, until recently, got on well with others could be lashing out because they have a genuine grievance of which you are not aware, or are feeling irritable and overwhelmed.

Either way, it is worth investigating. Negative relationships at work can make a

department stressed and on edge.

5) They are not engaging in office culture


Not everyone wants to go paint-balling with colleagues or eat lunch with their team and that’s fine. No one should be forced to.

However, if a colleague suddenly becomes withdrawn it could be an indication they are unhappy at work.

It could be that they don’t feel connected to the company, their values don’t align, or that they are underappreciated.

Or it could be an indicator that they are experiencing conflict with a colleague.

Perhaps it is as simple as they don’t like whatever the activity is and feel excluded.

Whilst you don’t want to force anyone to join in, try to find an office bonding activity that everyone enjoys.


6) Their time keeping becomes poor


Suddenly turning up late for meetings, leaving work 5 minutes early, and taking long lunch breaks can signify you have an unhappy employee.

A happy worker will be excited about coming into work because they like their co

Image of yellow construction hats and a green one to represent blog by Wellspace on 7 signs you have an unhappy employee

workers and feel fulfilled in their role.

An unhappy worker doesn’t want to be there, so will minimise the amount of time they have to be.

7) They develop a bad attitude


Everyone has off days, and they don’t always have to agree with everything that their colleagues and line managers say.

However, regular defiance, eye rolling, or contradiction is a sure-fire sign that person isn’t feeling totally at one with the company.


What Can I do About an Unhappy Employee?


If you spot any of the signs above it is time to act before the colleague moves on or affects the rest of the business.

Schedule a chat with their line manager first to see if they have noticed any changes in the overall dynamic of the team-you don’t want to single one person out if the whole team are unhappy.

Then, talk to the employee. As this article on supporting good mental health at work points out, allowing open and honest dialogue is vital in securing a positive culture.

If the colleague won’t talk directly to you, organise some staff voice activities, such as a suggestions box or an anonymous survey, to get feedback on the happiness of the work force.

Then, set about introducing small changes to remedy the issues.

The Wellspace app allows employees to put in their overall mood and reason for it, so you can track improvements over time and measure the effectiveness of your efforts.

Get In Touch


If you would like to have a chat with one of our health and wellbeing experts, get in touch with us on info@yourwellspace.com or here on our contact form.