July 7th, 2017 / Insight posted in Blog

The Unity of Miserable Employees

I have for longer than I care to remember, suggested that misery is an infectious phenomena which is largely brought on by one individual which quickly manifests itself to others in the workplace. In recent months however, I have started to consider the view that maybe those miserable employees actually have a commonality and therefore are drawn to one another.

I maintain that one disgruntled employee can, over a short period of time, affect others resulting in whole departments becoming disengaged, demotivated and dysfunctional. However, I have been interested when observing the general demeanour of employees who appear to be all of three of these unwanted traits and how they appear to huddle together.

This is more commonly noticed when eye rolling, huffs and silences are no longer limited to one person, but appears almost in unison, like they have somehow been silently rehearsed. My most recent observations have shown these reactions are more noticeably undertaken in response to their colleague’s comments and not their managers. I now wonder if it becomes a numbers game, if the balance tips and those groups of miserable employees who have become drawn to one another outweigh the number of their happier counterparts. Maybe this battle of ‘happy verses sad’ is more around who converts the most the quickest.

This battle of ‘good versus evil’ would explain a lot of what I have thought over the years and could actually reinforce the point that the infection of misery actually has to go through some form of fertilisation process. A little like two apple trees being required before an orchid can be even comprehended. Where no actively miserable inhabitants of the office have come forward to present themselves this may results in only one employees exit, but where personality likenesses are shown, the fertilisations begins.

Despite these musings, one thing in my advice to business managers remains; exit those employees who can not be saved from the dark-side to preserve the balance of happy employees.