What Happens When Good Employees Stop Caring

One of the most common characteristics of companies that continually lead the way in their industries is having a workforce that is loyal and cares deeply about their jobs. Unfortunately, this is often the exception rather than the rule.

In fact, thanks to the pandemic and other factors, many employees are finding it harder to stay motivated in their jobs, with many of them quitting. If you are like me and wonder what happens when good employees stop caring and what can be done to reverse this troubling trend, I’ve got some ideas to keep in mind.

What Are the Signs of Unhappy Employees?

Like myself, you want to know when employees are unhappy on the job. However, this can be easier said than done.

In my experiences, I have found that once an employee loses their motivation, it may not necessarily be immediately obvious to me as an employer. One of the most common signs an employee is unhappy is what’s known as quiet quitting.

When quiet quitting occurs, your employee will still be at work seemingly doing their job. Yet in their mind, they have checked out from the job and are anything but happy to be there.

Like me, you may notice employees no longer seem as enthusiastic on the job, are not walking around with smiles on their faces, or just don’t seem to be quite as productive as usual. Though it’s still possible to turn the tide when a star employee is unhappy, there’s no guarantee even your best efforts will pay off.

Why Do Employees Become Unhappy On the Job?

When I discover my best employee is unhappy on the job, my first reaction as their employer is to panic. However, if I do so, I’ll never get to the root of the problem and figure out how to fix the problem as quickly as possible.

Instead of panicking, I immediately decide to have an in-depth conversation with my unhappy employee. This is critical, since it lets them know I care about them not just as an employee, but also as a person. Once I initiate this conversation, I often find many common themes begin to emerge that are true in even the best of companies.

Generally, when a star employee is unhappy, it can be attributed to such things as a lack of recognition for their hard work, a perceived lack of opportunities for advancement, a management style within the company that has spiraled into micromanagement, or a company culture that may have become disrespectful or even toxic.

I have found that even though I do my best to stay on top of things and create a company where everyone feels appreciated and rewarded for their efforts, it is still possible for problems to develop now and then. However, rather than concentrating my efforts on playing the blame game, I do better if I instead get to work solving the problem.

Read More: 8 Tips for Dealing With Passive Employees to Promote Workplace Productivity

Burnout and Benefits

One of the biggest mistakes I have made as an employer over the years is to give my star employees more and more of the workload. This is easy to do, since I know the work will get done to the highest standards and be done correctly the first time.

Unfortunately, this can result in burnout for employees. In a survey conducted of 1,000 full-time workers, researchers discovered that of those who started a new job as recently as 2021, 40% were burned out in their previous jobs. Even more surprising, another 28% were so burned out that they left their jobs without having another job lined up.

Benefits also play a significant role in how employees view their jobs. In a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, almost 90% of employees revealed to SHRM that an employer’s benefits package or lack thereof plays an important role in whether or not they are happy on the job.

Once I learned of this survey’s results, it made me rethink not only the current benefits I offer my employees, but also how could I add to the package a bit more. Like me, you may want to think about adding such benefits as telehealth, family leave, or even mental health leave to keep your employees happy.

How I Keep My Employees Happy

When my best employee is unhappy, I can guarantee you this means many of my others are as well. Though it’s a tough mountain to climb, there are several things I do in an attempt to keep my employees happy.

Clear Lines of Communication

First, I keep the lines of communication open. Since I have an open-door policy, my employees know that when they have a problem or concern, I’m willing to listen. I like to ask open-ended questions that encourage honest feedback.

By talking openly with my employees about what I’ve observed and what problems may be occurring, it’s easier to admit when mistakes have been made and work with my employees to find a solution.

If you think clear, concise, and honest communication is not that big a deal within your company, consider that in 2022, 40% of employees seriously considered leaving their jobs before the end of the year.

Read More: What Is the Leadership SWOT Analysis and How to Use It for Personal Leadership Development

Promote from Within

When a company offers few if any career opportunities to its employees, I can guarantee you this sets the stage for having a workforce of very unhappy employees. It also sets the stage for a revolving door of hiring, which will translate to large increases in training costs and lost profits due to decreased productivity.

To avoid these problems, I suggest you keep your employees happy by promoting from within.

Studies have shown that over 60% of workers regularly leave companies due to a lack of advancement opportunities. Thus, when I have a star employee, being able to promote them up the career ladder turns them into a long-term employee who is happy, dedicated, and invested in my company’s success.

Motivations and New Challenges

When I get to work each day, I don’t want my day to be dull and boring. Instead, I want to be motivated by the new challenges that lie ahead. Your employees want the same thing, which is why I feel strongly about finding out what keeps my employees motivated.

Is it being able to have one satisfied customer after another? Is it knowing they will have advancement opportunities, pay raises, and excellent benefits? How about a company culture that is focused on diversity, inclusion, and recognition?

Once I find out what motivates my employees, I can tailor my company to play to their strengths. Whether it’s giving my star employee a bit more responsibility or handing over an important project to an up-and-comer who has shown signs of great potential, motivation and new challenges each and every day will always result in a happy workforce.

Read More: Writing Up a Passive-Aggressive Employee: 10 Best Strategies to Handle Them

Respect Goes a Long Way

In any area of life, but especially on the job, respect goes a long way. If you don’t believe me, consider that almost 35% of new employees quit within six months after being initially hired. While many factors can contribute to this, feeling disrespected is often a prime reason for leaving.

If you want quiet quitting to take place with your employees, allow a culture of disrespect to take hold.

As I’ve learned over the years, showing respect to employees is actually one of the easiest things you can do to keep your best employees and everyone else as well happy on the job.

Whether it is a pat on the back, a few kind words, asking them about their families, or perhaps giving them a chance to take part in the next important company project, demonstrating high levels of respect will let people hold their heads high and be proud members of your team.

The Power of Incentives

Last but not least, I suggest you never overlook the power of incentives to ensure your employees never stop caring about their jobs. This is actually something I really like and my employees do as well, since incentives can take many forms.

One thing I like to do regularly is to have a company-wide luncheon as a reward for a job well-done. This not only lets me show my appreciation, but it also allows workers who may not get together very often on the job to get to know each other better.

I also like the Employee of the Month program. Not only does this encourage hard work, but it also lets everyone see what they can gain by committing to a level of excellence, be it a bonus in their paycheck, an extra paid day off, or other reward.

You’ve Got the Power

In closing, remember that when good employees stop caring, you’ve got the power to turn a negative into a positive. By combining conversations, respect, and some tangible incentives and rewards along the way, I guarantee quiet quitting will be a thing of the past and your star employees will stay motivated and excited.

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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