It comes as no surprise that an unhappy employee is more likely
to file a complaint or lawsuit. We often tell managers and
supervisors that employees file complaints when they "get
their feelings hurt." Sometimes this is because the employee
thinks no one is listening, or it may be that the employee does not
feel respected. Whatever the underlying reason may be, it's as
true now as it ever was that a little bit of employee relations
goes a long way toward preventing employee complaints and legal
Even if your managers technically comply with all legal
requirements, employees who are not properly managed and motivated
may become unhappy. An unhappy employee is less productive and more
likely to cause problems at work. So it is worth asking the
question: "What makes employees happy at work?"
Gallup To The Rescue
Gallup conducts an annual Work and Education Poll to survey
employees about how they feel about various aspects of their work.
In 2005, this Gallup Poll found that most workers were positive
about their jobs. About one-third of workers surveyed said they
actually loved their work, while less than 10% of workers said they
disliked or hated their work.
Employees giving positive response cited that they liked what
they were doing and liked their co-workers. Wages were far down the
list of things that made people like or love their work. This
confirms what we have known for many years: People go to work to
make money, but they like or dislike their work for reasons other
than the money.
In the 2011 Gallup Work and Education Poll, the greatest
increases in dissatisfaction as compared to the 2008 poll were in
the areas of health insurance benefits, chances for promotion,
on-the-job stress and job security. Employees again expressed a
high degree of satisfaction in the area of liking their
The Top Ten "Most-Hated" Jobs
A 2011 CNBC report on a survey by CareerBliss listed the top ten
"most-hated" jobs. Note that these are not the workers
people most hate to deal with, like traffic cop or aggressive
salesperson, but instead these are jobs people hate to do.
The reasons cited by employees who hate their work include lack
of direction, lack of opportunities for advancement, hostility from
peers and lack of respect. And the list of these most-hated jobs
includes primarily white-collar or management positions:
Director of Information Technology
Director of Sales and Marketing
Senior Web Developer
Technical Support Analyst
CNC Machinist (a machine that operates a lathe or mill)
Putting Love And Hate Together
It's clear that when employees like what they do and like
who they work with (including their supervisor), they are happy at
work. It is also clear that when employees are treated with
disrespect or lack direction, they are unhappy at work.
So we will say again what we have said for many years: to
succeed effectively at employee relations and minimize the risk of
employee complaints and lawsuits, management must
"EMPOWER" employees by:
Engaging – encouraging employees to
express opinions and ideas;
Mentoring – developing, motivating
and fostering harmony;
Praising – giving positive
Observing – listening to what
employees have to say;
Walking Around – making yourself
available to employees naturally without appearing to be a
Empathizing – understanding each
employee's perspective; and
Respecting – treating employees in a
professional and courteous manner.
None of these suggestions costs an employer any significant
amount of money; yet all pay enormous dividends in employee
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When you learn a former employee has stolen your trade secrets to take them across the street to benefit a competitor, your quickest remedy is to sue him and try to shut him down through an injunction.