Friday, February 8, 2013


You can't make every worker happy, surely, and should a business even try? Evidence from our recent research suggests, actually, that the answer is yes. Or rather, our evidence shows that managers are giving up far too soon on their disgruntled employees, making them less productive than they could be, exposing their companies to unnecessary risks from thefts and leaks in the process, and inflating turnover costs.
What causes employees to become disgruntled and what can be done to prevent it? To find out we zeroed in on the most unhappy people in our data. These were 6% in our database of 160,576 employees who displayed the lowest levels of job satisfaction and commitment on their 360 evaluations of their bosses. We were looking for those among them whose managers also oversaw the most satisfied employees. In this way we identified that group of leaders who were managing both the very unhappy and the very happy at the same time.
The results of the data were clear: There is most definitely such a thing as "the boss's favorites." And while, in any disagreement we inevitably find both parties bear part of the fault — that is, the disgruntled employees do certainly play some role in their own unhappiness — we consistently found in the analysis that their complaints were justified. Their managers were in fact treating the disgruntled employee differently than they treated their very satisfied employees. What's more, when the managers in question started to treat their disgruntled employees like everyone else, the employees' behavior quickly improved.
Our results suggest a clear path forward for bringing disgruntled employees back into the fold. In particular, the unhappy group in our survey strongly agreed on six major areas in which they felt (and we agree) that their leaders needed to improve:

Are You Creating Disgruntled Employees? - Joseph Folkman - Harvard Business Review

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