Unhappy Employees Hurt Your Business

Unhappy Employees Hurt Your Business

In any economy, the last thing you, as the employer, needs is employees who don’t want to be there. Employees who feel negative about their work create two major negatives for their employers:

1. They increase turnover, resulting in increased costs.

2. Their negativity contributes to a kind of workplace malaise that can diminish productivity and performance.

One study of this topic, conducted by Towers Perrin and Gang & Gang, revealed employees in the U.S. are extremely negative about their current work experience.

The study surveyed 1,100 employees working for midsize to large firms and asked them to describe their feelings about their current work experience and a desired (ideal) work experience. The study also surveyed about 300 executives, asking them how they thought their employees would describe their current work experience.

The study quantified the total emotion expressed by the employees and found that more than half (55 percent) of that emotion was negative. A third of that emotion was intensely negative. By contrast, less than a quarter (23 percent) of employees’ emotions were intensely positive. “So, negative emotions are predominant and strong,” the study concluded, “and positive emotions are secondary and weak at best — potentially, a recipe for increasingly serious disengagement and reduced performance.”

What accounted for all this negative feeling that employees have about their work?

Workload. The workload is the single biggest factor shaping employees’ feelings about work, accounting for about 15 percent of all emotion. And of that 15 percent… most (roughly 12 percent) is negative. The report stated, “In the wake of cost cutting and downsizing staff (but not work), people are burned out — doing as much or more work with fewer resources and less support.”

Management. “Employees don’t see support coming from managers…”

The future. “It isn’t looking bright right now… So employees naturally question their job (read income) security and longer-term retirement security.”

Boredom/lack of challenge. “There isn’t enough challenge in most people’s jobs…”

Recognition/rewards. “… respondents focused more on insufficient recognition than pay and other rewards.”

The study noted this high negativity is prompting employees to disengage from their work.

Impact on employers: During times of economic strain it may seem like employers have the advantage in terms of keeping your staff intact. But management surveys show an ever climbing rate of employed persons who plan to look for new jobs or are actively looking. This survey, taken a couple of years ago, showed a 24 percent rise in the number of people on the move, job-wise, from two years prior. Only five percent of those surveyed had no plans to look for other work. Of course, planning to quit and actually quitting are two different subjects. But a few months before that survey was taken, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that about two million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs, though not necessarily to go to new jobs. This figure was up 35 percent from about 17 months before.

In other words, while you might think your employees are grateful to be working, there is a good chance that your staff includes a large number of disaffected workers who are just “hanging on’ to their jobs” and “affecting others with their negative attitudes.” It may be time to re-examine factors like the workload, management support, employee expectations for the future, challenges of existing work, and how you recognize and reward good work.

Payroll Partners is committed to helping clients stay informed about payroll and human resource news, developments and current events. This article is intended to provide readers with general information on human resources matters. The article does not constitute, and should not be treated as professional advice regarding the use of any particular human resources practice. All efforts have been made to assure the accuracy of the information. Payroll Partners does not assume responsibility for any individual’s reliance upon the information provided in the article. Readers should independently verify all information before applying it to a particular fact situation, and should independently determine the impact of any particular human resources practice. If you are seeking human resources advice, you are encouraged to consult a human resources professional.