Disgruntled employees can wreak havoc with any sized business. They can steal company ideas and customers, compromise security, ruin a reputation, steal, vandalize and commit violent acts. While larger businesses rely on their HR departments to handle employee issues, the small business owner often has little experience identifying, dealing with, or protecting the business from from a disgruntled active or ex-employee.
What are some of the signs of a disgruntled employee?
- Does not take direction well, nor values input from others.
- Spends time performing low priority tasks, failing to recognize the importance of time schedules.
- Complains about the boss, company, customers or life in general.
- Makes frequent mistakes and is reluctant to accept any blame.
- Fails to work well with other employees, often talking about them behind their backs.
- Abuses company time and resources – last to arrive, first to leave, uses computer for personal gain.
After reading this list, you may wonder why an employer puts up with this kind of behavior. The reasons may lie in the personality of the business owner. Entrepreneurs are often not accustomed to being managers. In my experience, many are often very trusting, hiring people they know and treating them more like friends than employees. Many small businesses have no employee handbook and have few written policies. Adequate training and overseeing is often difficult due to the many hats the business owner wears.
The signs of a disgruntled employee often appear long before a parting of the ways occurs. Unfortunately, the business owner may not recognize the symptoms or know how to address the issues before the damage is already done. It can occur during active employment, begin during the employee’s departure, or may be felt months after the relationship is over.
There are many ways that a small business can minimize the potential risk due to a disgruntled employee. In Part 2, we will outline some important steps that can be implemented.