Disgruntled Employees – Warning Signs and Protection Strategies

The actions of angry employees are more than just news stories.

From stealing sensitive information and compromising data to vandalizing the workplace and, at worst, committing violent acts, having angry employees are a reality that small business owners face every day.

One way to protect your business from the actions of disgruntled workers is to know the signs that could indicate potential trouble.

The 6 Signs of Dissatisfied Employees

  1. Chronic absenteeism
  2. Raising the voice frequently
  3. Depression
  4. Unusual impatience
  5. Increased irritability
  6. Memory or concentration problems

Identifying the signs of unhappy employees is just one part of a strategy to protect yourself, your staff, and your customers.

Of course you want to protect the staff and others from potential physical harm, but having a strategy for dealing with dissatisfied employees will also help boost staff morale, eliminating one of the reasons for employee turnover. Here's how to get started:

Do not ignore unusual or inappropriate behavior by an employee. Take action by speaking with your employee to learn what might be troubling him or her. If you do not feel comfortable meeting with the employee alone, have another manager in the room with you or ask security to be nearby; in another office perhaps if it helps you to feel more comfortable.

When meeting with the staff member, be empathetic when listening to your employee's concerns, but also be firm and clear that certain behaviors will not be tolerated in the workplace.

In very extreme cases where an employee is clearly violent or threatening, do not second guess and put your safety or the safety of others at risk. Contact security or the police if appropriate.

Other best practices in support of a secure workplace include:

Reviewing the physical integrity of the workplace.

  • Ensure doors, windows, and other entry / exit points are secured and the locks work.
  • Encourage employees to report broken locks on doors and windows.
  • Check that entry / exit points can not be easily propped open or otherwise tampered with.
  • Adopt security measures that guarantee the personal safety of all staff inside and outside the premises.

Provide necessary safeguards for valuable objects, belongings , and information.

  • Make sure the workplace has adequate lighting inside and outside.
  • Ensure that common trouble spots, such as reception areas, restrooms, garages, and elevators, are secure.
  • Protect sensitive and confidential information to prevent security breaches from unhappy employees inside or outside the workplace.

Adopt a formal document destruction policy.

Reduce your workplace's vulnerability to disruption and violence by formalizing a comprehensive violence prevention program. Your policy for dealing with angry employees should include:

Taking steps to ensure your company's violence policy is supported by the entire organization, from the interns to the C-suite. In addition, include the policy in your company's employee handbook.

Do not wait until an angry employee disrupts your business or harms a colleague.

Know the signs of dissatisfied employees and have the strategies in place to ensure the physical integrity of your workplace and the security of your employees. You owe it to yourself and to your staff.