Here’s what your employees probably aren’t telling you

Guest Blog by Sarah Musgrove, Editor at Brighter Business

One of the hardest things about having people work for you is trying to keep them happy.

The problem is that, sometimes, you’re not even aware that your employees are unhappy.


unhappy worker stress

Something you can do to anticipate employee dissatisfaction and hopefully work to minimise it, is to pay attention when studies about employee complaints like this one, by Chicago-based HR Solutions, Inc. become available.

Obviously, a company made up of four employees will have some different concerns than one with 100, but there are some basic gripes that employees in all kinds of businesses seem to have. Here are some of the things your employees may not be telling you they’re unhappy about.


Complaints surrounding money

It may be that your employees feel they aren’t being adequately compensated for the jobs they’re doing. It may be they believe newer hires are being paid more than they’re worth, when compared with what more senior employees are paid. It may be that their annual pay increase doesn’t motivate them to work harder. Money will always be a point of contention, so it’s important you take some time to analyse whether the system you have in place is benefitting all of your employees equally.

One potential solution is to implement a merit-based raise or bonus system for your employees, to inspire them to accomplish more. This is clearly no small task, but it can be the answer to a major source of dissatisfaction for your employees, demonstrating that you reward effort and progress in a very direct way.

Complaints regarding benefits and holiday time can also fall under this category. You may want to save some money by going with a less comprehensive benefits plan, but this can create problems with employee retention. After all, a good work-life can be the difference between an employee leaving or staying, so think about whether this is an area where you want to scrimp. Consider the benefits you’re currently offering your staff, and ask yourself if it’s what you’d be looking for.

In addition, making sure you have a fair schedule for determining annual leave coverage, especially during popular months, can make all the difference with employee satisfaction.

Issues with management

Are you making yourself available to your staff? Sometimes, it’s as simple as checking in with members of your team in some kind of rotating schedule, for them to feel like they can approach you on a one-to-one basis.

Alternatively, is it possible you’re too involved in your employees’ work on a regular basis? This is the opposite end of the spectrum, and micromanaging those who work for you is something you can learn to let go of, over time. Be confident that your employees are as motivated to help the company succeed as you are, and empower them through delegation.

Do you, or other members of your management team, show favoritism toward certain employees? If you’re leaning toward giving opportunities to certain members of your team more than others merely because you’re sure they’ll get the job done, that’s understandable.
However, it’s important to give other employees the chance to do the same, and in doing so, allow them to build or broaden their skills. In addition, make certain you aren’t unconsciously giving additional opportunities – for holiday time, for personal growth – to these favourites, either.

Finally, make sure you aren’t trying to cut costs by overloading your staff with work. When your employees feel stretched too thin, their productivity will decrease and their stress will increase. Assuming it’s a temporary measure, make sure you’re communicating that to everyone on your team.

Yes, you’ve likely built your company from the ground up, but starting a company and leading a company aren’t necessarily the same thing. Learning how to treat your employees the way they deserve to be treated can be the difference between a good company and a great one.


For more tips, guidance and information for SMEs and start-ups, visit

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