Three Reasons Employees Feel Dissatisfied, And How HR Can Help

Why do some workers start to feel less enthused about work, or less engaged with the workplace? Sometimes, it’s just a matter of being able to wrap up projects and start new ones with energy and enthusiasm. But there are other reasons that can be more difficult to overcome, especially if they can’t see the path forward.

Employee Growth 

The possibility that 100% of your workers will stay engaged and enthused all of the time is pretty remote. And while things like rewards, raises, and company recognition might help boost their attitude, these can wear off over time.

  • For many mid-career professionals, promotions tend to slow down, especially when senior leaders are entrenched in their positions.
  • And, if your company recruits and hires outside candidates for senior positions, this probably doesn’t help an employee’s confidence.
  • Eventually, unhappy workers will look elsewhere for the type of work, culture, job title or salary they want.

Below, we’ve unpacked three of the most common reasons why workers grow dissatisfied, and also offer tips to help you manage these situations.


Employee retention matters in a strong hiring environment. What can you do to show workers that you have their back, even when they feel like they’re in a rut? Download our recent Spotlight, “Improve Employee Retention,” for insight into career plans, along with other tips that can help you improve the employee experience.

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Job Satisfaction

Career mapping can be a powerful tool to help employees over the long run. However, short-term employee dissatisfaction can be a bigger issue, especially when hiring is strong.

Here are three reasons why workers feel dissatisfied, and tips to help you support, and hopefully keep them, in your employee population:

  1. They feel like they don’t have chances to learn and grow

Everyone wants to advance. In the very least, people want to know that they’re on a path for advancement. Still, advancement can’t always happen, especially when the positions up ahead are filled.

Job title is not the only type of advancement that workers crave.

Plenty of workers want to grow their skills, and take on challenges that go beyond their job title.

  • New challenges can help expand their career map.
  • They can also put workers in a better position to advance in the future.  
  • And, many people possess an innate desire to learn and grow. Professional growth is part of this.

Learning opportunities don’t always have to come in the form of workshops, conferences, and third-party webinars. Nor do they have to end once the onboarding experience is over.

Tip: explore job shadowing

Job shadowing is a cost-effective way to create learning opportunities that might already exist in your workplace.

We’ve written previously about how job shadowing can support seasonal hires. Job shadowing can also give full-time employees a new view into their work and the workplace.

  • They can see how their skills might be applicable elsewhere in the company.
  • They can discover how their work affects and supports other departments, which can help break down workplace silos.
  • They don’t feel like they fit the company culture

It can be tough to put a finger on cultural issues around the workplace, or gather data about “feelings.”

  • Do employees dislike the way you decorate the workplace?
  • Is culture or misconception about culture something causing issues for a workgroup?

Ideally, culture is a reflection of your company’s mission, vision, and values. But sometimes, culture takes on a life of its own.

Tip: highlight the connection between culture and the company’s mission

If mission and values are essential to culture, then you want to be sure that your culture is reflecting them. And, you also want to ensure that your workers align with your mission. How can you get someone to focus on the company’s mission if they’re having issues with the culture? One way is to discuss this connection by using examples from around the workplace.

  • Perhaps decorations are meant to embody the company’s mission around inclusion.
  • However, if some employees feel excluded, this can be a chance for everyone to regroup around this or other messages.
  • How else can inclusion show up in the workplace? What can workers do to feel included in certain activities?

Taking a step further, you might discover that your company could do a better job communicating your mission and values.

  • Has your mission simply become an entry in the employee handbook? How else do you communicate and show it?
  • How can you reinforce your mission and values authentically? Doing so might be something that all employees benefit from.
  • They get passed over for a raise, promotion, or both

Plenty of workers switch jobs to get the pay they want. It’s hard to argue with this decision, especially when, on average, switching jobs usually means a higher rate of pay than staying put.

Along these same lines, if a worker feels like they’ve been passed over for promotions—especially when the internal job opening seemed like a great match—it can be hard for them not to look elsewhere to get the title and salary they want.

Tip: keep an eye on the salary market, and explore other ways to help them engage

There’s a lot of information about salaries out there. Chances are, your dissatisfied employees are checking it out every time they visit Glassdoor or Indeed. They know where the money is, and how much their skills are worth. Do you?

At the same time, bumping an employee’s pay rate, or offering them a new title, aren’t always options. How else can you help them engage with the workplace?

What about flexible and remote work options?

Working remotely is growing in popularity. In one recent study, more than 90% of respondents said they want the option to work remotely. In lieu of better pay, or a new title, many workers would enjoy flexible work options.

Even if your workplace doesn’t offer flex work, now might be the right time to explore a flex work program. And, you can include your dissatisfied workers in the process.

  • Encourage them to start a committee that researches and gathers data related to starting a flex work program.
  • Some workers might balk at what sounds like “more work,” but others might jump at the chance to get behind a new initiative.

No worker wants to stagnate. Unfortunately, it can be all too easy for them to let their dissatisfaction drive them out the door toward greener pastures. Before they convince themselves that they’ve outgrown their jobs, help them see new chances that might be right down the hall.  


In a candidate-driven job market, you want employees to know that you have their backs. As your dedicated applicant tracking software, myStaffingPro empowers you throughout the employee experience, from requisition to retention. Contact a representative today.

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