Creating a Pro-active Labor Relations Environment - Part Fifteen in a Series: Identifying Warning Signs of Employee Frustration and Dissatisfaction

It is important to know and understand the sources of frustration and anger identified in Part Fourteen of this series. If these sources are not identified and remedied effectively, then employees will begin to manifest negative and unsatisfactory behaviors as set forth below. Some of the more obvious signs are:

  • Employees show unusual curiosity about company programs and policies.
  • Employees meet and talk in out-of-the-way places or disperse when management approaches.
  • The nature of employee complaints may change, and the frequency may increase.
  • Complaints are made by a delegation, rather than by individual employees.
  • Argumentative questions are asked more frequently and aggressively of managers.
  • Unfriendly employees suddenly become unusually friendly to supervisors or management.
  • There may be an unusual absence of activity --- everything seems too quiet and there is little or no employee feedback.
  • A sudden lack of communication occurs between supervisors and normally friendly or conversant employees.
  • Union authorization cards, handbills, or leaflets appear on the premises or in parking lots.
  • Employees adopt a new, technical vocabulary which includes such phrases as “protected activity”, “unfair labor practices”, and “demands for recognition”.
  • New emerged “leaders” gain recognition and increased attention, status, and support among employees.
  • Abnormal employee recognition, attention or deference is paid to a recently discharged or disciplined employee.
  • Employees attempt to provoke confrontations with supervisors or managers.
  • Recently hired employees profess unusual loyalty to the company.
  • Cartoons or graffiti appear which direct humorous hostility toward the company, management or supervision.

This is not an all-inclusive list, nor are all of these warning signs likely to appear in any given situation. Thus, it is important to be sensitive to any conduct out of the ordinary which might indicate disharmony between management and employees or disenchantment with the company. If problems are ignored they will grow. Early recognition of employee frustration is critical to management’s ability to respond effectively in an appropriate and timely manner. The most effective early recognition strategy is the Employee/Associate Opinion Survey discussed in Part Eight of this series.

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