7 effective ways to re-engage a dissatisfied and unhappy employee

Around 40% of employees are considering quitting in the next three to six months

7 effective ways to re-engage a dissatisfied and unhappy employee

Employees, especially the younger generations who are working in a remote setup, are struggling to stay happy and engaged with their job. As a result, HR leaders and managers are tasked with addressing the lack of motivation to work.

There are numerous ways to stimulate an unhappy employee, but below are some simple yet effective methods to re-engage them in the workforce. Before we get to that…

What are the causes of dissatisfaction and unhappiness of an employee?

The Great Resignation has caused a continuous flow of employees leaving their jobs at record levels, even without having a new role to transfer to. In addition, a McKinsey and Co. report published in July revealed that around 40% of employees are considering quitting their current jobs in the next three to six months.

Disgruntled employees losing interest in their job is often caused by a combination of many factors. Some of the common causes of employee dissatisfaction are:

  • Lack of career growth opportunities;
  • Miscommunication and misunderstanding between colleagues;
  • Office bullying;
  • Lack of work-life balance;
  • Unfair salary and employee benefits;
  • Lack of reward and recognition of employee efforts.

There are also cases where personal issues outside of work affect the satisfaction and morale of employees. Combined with other workplace factors, an employee can easily lose trust in the company and the will to give their best work output – resulting in missed deadlines, poor work quality, absenteeism, procrastination and lack of team collaboration with co-workers.

Read more: Can you spot the difference? How to recognize unhappy employees

Effects of having an unhappy employee

A disengaged employee affects the company, too. While the significant drop in work quality and sudden distance from colleagues may seem like it only impacts the team or department the employee is under, the disengagement could potentially create a ripple effect throughout the organization.

The dissatisfaction could see companies lose sales and profits over time as customers see the company as poor employers who offer low-quality products and services. Aside from losing customer loyalty, companies could also face distrust in the workplace. Employees who see their co-workers disengaged could lose the drive to work and be active in the workplace – weakening the company culture. Employers are also faced with a complex and time-consuming recruitment process, onboarding, and training for the job vacancies left by unhappy employees, which turns into unnecessary costs.

If left unattended, the entire workforce will be affected, and its effects could leave the company in a situation that can cause permanent damage to the company’s image and success.

Ways to re-engage a dissatisfied and unhappy employee

Employers can enact different policies and tactics to help the morale of employees. Listed below are some effective methods to re-engage employee:

  1. Try work-life alignment rather than work-life balance

The pandemic has proven just how important work-life balance is for employees and how a lack of one can cause a mass resignation. As time moves on, however, employees are finding it difficult to stay at a job whose work duties do not align with their personal and work goals and time.

According to Laura Gassner Otting in a 2022 Harvard Business Review article, finding time for both work and personal life is not enough anymore. After surveying more than 5,600 employees from various industries, employees are focusing on finding a job that fits – even enhances – their personal life goals and routines instead of finding work that gives them time away from the office.

Finding the perfect balance between work and personal life is challenging and may not work for everyone. Employers should connect their employees’ daily tasks to their individual career growth as a way to increase their motivation to do well and as a way to fit their job role into their personal life – lessening the burden of work for employees in the long run and lowering the turnover rate.

  1. Revise job roles to better suit what drives employees

The motivations of employees change over time as their interests and outlook in life constantly evolve. It is best for employers to regularly find out what drive the employees and re-shape their job into it. One way to do this is to have discussions with employees and learn what makes them stay with the company, what they enjoy in their job, the factors that make them want to leave, and what they think the company could improve on.

From the data gathered, employers can picture what employees need and adjust each employee’s duties into projects and tasks that best fit them. The adjustment of their responsibilities significantly improves their work quality, which helps employers reach their company goals.

  1. Give employees more “say” when it comes to the recruiting process

According to Otting, the recruiting process of companies affect the workforce more than employers realize. Employers usually fail to see how excluding employees’ opinions in the recruiting and onboarding process can leave employees critical of the organization, influencing their views and trust in the company.

HR managers should take the time to discuss vacant job roles with managers and employees to get an insight into whether the job responsibilities are relevant to the team and what employees are looking for from the new hire. The participation of the employees will help HR managers streamline the recruitment process to find the best talent that fits the company while also re-engaging the current employees in the company’s community and reminding them of the excitement they had for their job.

  1. Connect their work to the larger picture

Sometimes employees’ motivation to work decreases when they start losing sight of how their efforts help the company achieve its goals and success. Employers should take the initiative to find ways to connect larger organizational goals with employees’ daily tasks and personal career growth instead of just passing along announcements of the company’s decisions and future actions.

Having regular reminders and discussions that visualize how an employee’s role completes the organization’s operations can help employees picture how their output affects the workflow of the entire department and even the company. The goal of the visualization is to make the employee understand how they are a vital part of the organization and to boost their motivation.

  1. Always encourage feedback

Innovative HR leaders understand the power feedback has to create change within an organization. However, employees can shy away from voicing their opinions for fear of being punished or reprimanded.

Employers should create a work environment that encourages employees to express their opinions and suggestions freely. Open communication should be a key factor in the company’s culture. Establishing regular one-on-one discussions, weekly team catch-ups, and constant feedback collection are a great way to promote honest and efficient communication while improving the company practices best to align the company and employees’ personal goals.

  1. Promote reward and recognition

One proven effective way to re-engage employees back in the workforce is to promote reward and recognition in the workplace. Companies that acknowledge employees' efforts and hard work make their workforce feel seen and valued. When that happens, employees are more inclined to work harder and stay loyal to the company.

  1. Nurture a good company culture

Employers can implement as many policies and initiatives to re-engage employees in the workforce all they want, but if there is no healthy company culture in place, the efforts put into re-engagement will not last long.

Employers should aim for and maintain a company culture where employees can express and explore their capabilities without fear of being judged and unseen. Sustaining a healthy company culture that works for the long term entices employees to engage with co-workers and to build soft skills needed to grow in their roles, such as communication and empathy.

Read more: Unhappy employees: What should you do with them?

It is easy to claim an employee’s lack of interest in work is a personality trait they have always had – making employers give up without trying to see if it is something they could help with. Once there is a noticeable dip in productivity, employers should take the time and investigate what is causing the decrease and whether employee engagement is affected.

The best thing for companies to do is to invest in items and methods that increase employee satisfaction and engagement while they are employees. Taking action as early as now helps lessen the employee dissatisfaction and lessens the instance of seeing a good employee go.        

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