In your vision, life at your company resembles a joyous utopia. Everyone fills their role competently and efficiently, while simultaneously feeling fulfilled and content in their roles. Just smiles, warm feelings, and profits all around.

Unfortunately, it can’t always be that way. Employees will get discontent. Whether its dissatisfaction with their compensation, frustration about the pace of their advancement, complaints about their workloads, or disputes with other employees, every employee will likely go through sour periods from time to time.

How do you deal with these? How can you steer your employees through these rough patches, allowing them to remain productive and supportive members of the team? Or, alternatively, if the discontent runs too deep, how can you manage their departure with the least amount of disruption?

Here are some steps you can take to deal with an unhappy employee and keep your overall team on track:

Stay Alert to Signs of Unhappiness

First step: recognize the problem early. People won’t often storm your office or start crying at their desk. Instead, they’ll internalize their unhappiness and try to grit through.

Your job is to spot the early signs of trouble, and intervene as quickly as you can. That way you can step in before things come to a crisis. To this end, be aware of issues like slipping performance, spotty attendance, and declining morale.

Encourage Open Communication

The more you can talk to your workers about their problems, the more you can do to solve them. Keep the barriers to communication low. Encourage your workers to come to you with any problems they have, and routinely reach out to them so you can keep a pulse of what is going on.

Even if you can’t solve every problem, the act of having an open dialog can prevent problems from escalating. Employees will feel heard, a fact which can help derail a lot of bad feelings.

Separate Symptoms from Causes

And unhappy employee might start to act out. Coming in late, leaving early, calling in sick, procrastinating, generally losing that competitive edge – these can be signs of sinking morale.

You need to deal with this behavior. But, it’s important not to focus on the symptoms. If you overreact harshly to the signs of diminished engagement, you can make the problem worse.

Instead, talk to the employee, figure out the deeper reason for the slipping performance, and deal directly with that. Don’t get dragged into battles over surface issues.

Be Honest about Your Options

Once you determine what is making your employee unhappy, don’t overstate your ability to fix the problem. There’s a temptation to promise big changes, especially if the employee in question is a key member of the team.

However, you can’t solve everything. And by promising too much and falling short later, you only put pressure on an already precarious relationship.

Try to Find Offbeat Solutions

Not every request comes down to a simple yes or no. You might not be able to address an employee’s concerns directly, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take creative action to mitigate the bad feelings.

For instance, imagine an employee feels they are underpaid for their position. You might not have cash in the budget for a raise. But, maybe you could lower their workload in a way where their hourly rate becomes effectively higher.

By working with an employee to find creative answers to their concerns, you contribute to a supportive environment.

Of course, not every relationship can be saved. Some unhappy employees are going to leave…sometimes, you will actively encourage them to do so. Replacing these discontented employees becomes much easier with a strong recruiting partner, like SmartTalent.

With SmartTalent at your back, you can quickly bring in competent, high-spirited team members to fill any role. Contact them today to find out more.