5 Tips for Dealing with a Disgruntled Employee

Dr. Ryan Giffen

When it comes to operating a company, employees are the most valuable asset. Employees are what keep a company productive, operating smoothly, and being financially positive. This is why it is important to keep employees in a positive and happy state of mind. Of course, there are times where an employee becomes disgruntled. This can be difficult to deal with. Fortunately, there are ways that human resources can improve the handling of disgruntled employees.

Handling a Disgruntled Employee with Professionalism

One of the key factors in addressing a disgruntled employee is to remain professional. A disgruntled employee is not in the best state. Therefore, they may yell or say inappropriate things. It is important to not stoop down to their level and match this kind of behavior. This may only fuel their upset or make them quit. A dissatisfied employee is already in a negative state of mind. So, making them even more upset can push them over the edge. Human Resources must approach the situation with a level head so that they can assess the situation, understand the employee’s upset, and resolve it appropriately.

Rapidly Address the Issue

Waiting to handle an employee’s upset can often only make it worse. The longer they have to stew in it, the more disgruntled they become. If Human Resources receives a complaint, they must see to it in a timely manner because it becomes harder to fix with time and it can stall production for that particular employee’s department. An upset employee may also begin to spread their disgruntlement to others, which is something a company cannot afford.

Handling Disgruntled Employees Without Catering

It is important to resolve the employee’s upset, but it is also critical to not cater to them. Production should not be slowed or stalled to address an employee’s disgruntlement, or the employee may begin to feel empowered. Make sure to keep everyone else producing and have an appropriate person handle the upset employee. The company must show the rest of the staff that an upset employee will not hinder operations. HR staff must maintain control over the situation without giving in to the employee’s demands or criticisms. If there is an internal issue that is playing a role, it can be remedied without catering or empowering the employee’s upset.

The Importance of Documenting the Incident

Documentation is important in all parts of a company, including in handling an upset employee. The incident should be thoroughly documented so that it can be referred back to later if needed. A documented history of previous incidents tells Human Resources if they need to take further steps in the future. If HR personnel changes over time, they may not know if a certain employee has caused trouble in the past without proper documentation. Thorough documentation should include the date of the incident, a full account of what happened, and any action taken to resolve it.

Further Action May Be Required

If a disgruntled employee continues to cause issues within the company, further action may need to be taken. It is never pleasant to discipline employees, but it is often necessary to curb negative behavior. Discipline can begin on a lower level with written or verbal warnings, and up to suspension or firing if it does not resolve. An employee may produce greatly when they are actually on task, but if they cause frequent issues, it could be better to let them go. The amount of time spent handling their upsets can easily outweigh their production. 

About Dr. Ryan Giffen

With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Ryan Giffen is an expert in human relations and business culture. His career began in hospitality, leading operations and human resource departments for Fortune 500 companies and the like. Not long after, Ryan found his passion for teaching and consulting. He earned a Ph.D. in Hospitality Management with a Human Resources focus from Iowa State University and now works as an assistant professor at California State University, Long Beach. For over a decade, he continues to research and speak on organizational culture, relationship intelligence, and leadership effectiveness. Ryan is also the founder of Inospire, a company helping bosses and employees build stronger relationships with one another.  Lastly, Dr. Giffen is producer and host of the Corporate Shadow Podcast. a show helping everyday employees overcome workplace nonsense.