Employee Pains Add Up to Big Losses

With high levels of unemployment, you’d think we’d all have the best employees available in place, providing the best business structures we have ever seen. In talking with fellow managers across the country, we are flushed to admit we do not. We seem quick to hire, yet slow to fire. A warm body may seem like the answer but the side effects, like our own raised blood pressure, are just not worth it. As a manager, we need to know what ails our employees so we can manage them to a better place… whether it is with us or not.

Many organizations, franchise and independent alike, feel that employees are the wild card to their success. Their manager’s time is sucked up by the same “problem child” employees over and over again. Your brand’s image is riding on their ability to deliver the right mix of management, such as Team and Communication Management.

To understand the problem, let’s look at the root of what employees complain about. According to HR Solutions Inc’s job satisfaction study of 2.2 million respondents in 2,100 organizations across various industries, there are common trends around employee pains. In my opinion and after deeper research, these can be boiled down into two primary categories:

Bad manager: micro-management, doesn’t challenge me, too much work, is not open or responsive, doesn’t reward me properly, is unclear in duties and/or expectations, gives me a task I’m not qualified for

Bad company: doesn’t hear me, compensates poorly (ex. benefits), doesn’t give me the right tools, has a poor culture, never invests back into the people or our facility, doesn’t care about the same things I do

What it all adds up to is—they don’t feel cared about. They want to know they matter. And that their contribution is recognized and valued.  And, yes, they want to do good work. Really! Happier employees perform better, (period).

Gallup quantified the link between employee feelings and corporate outcomes, reporting that lost productivity due to employee disengagement costs more than $300 billion annually in the U.S.

I am not saying that the employee does not hold any accountability for a job poorly done. To help us see those employees more clearly, I’ve put together some warning signs. What I recommend is to put these into an Excel spreadsheet (in fact here is mine—feel free) along with your employees’ names listed along the side and take a different look at your staff to see the brevity of the situation.


  1. Don’t take accountability  these employees are quick to point out the issues without offering a solution (looking closer;, they are generally part of the problem)
  2. Perform poorly  their overall performance is never quite satisfactory or downright dismal (many claim they need help but then never really use it)
  3. Bad attitude  You can’t fix this. Get rid of them fast (they bring down everyone they touch from employees to customers and even affect you)
  4. Misconduct  This can come in many forms and most are spelled out in compliance or company standards (no grey area—includes illegal activities through breaking corporate values)
  5. Absenteeism  When employees are not present in body, or mind, it is a drain on your business (i.e. they are never around or they don’t contribute)

Letting any of these behaviors continue without intervention sends a powerful message to all your good employees, which is “you do not value their positive traits.” Now that your top performers are de-motivated too, the repercussions of not dealing with these issues are enormous. Managers can put in place various tools to attack this problem before it becomes an epidemic. At a minimum, do these three:

Tool: Employee Job Descriptions that clearly outline duties, tasks, and expectations.

Action: Use actively and refer back to regularly with employee.

Tool: Employee Reviews that occur at designated times, as well as happen immediately when an issue arises.

Action: State the issue, the desired fix, disciplinary actions, feedback, progress follow up meetings (on milestones), document.

Tool: Employee Surveys that get a pulse on your people and are completely anonymous, so you get the real feedback. See the one Zappos uses nicknamed “The Five Second Happiness Survey.”

Action: Communicate back the issues you heard and what actions will be taken and when it will be dealt with.

BONUS: Rank your employees as A, B, or C players using a scorecard that is built on metrics you believe are important that they deliver on. When you fill out their scorecard, also have them assess themselves. During their review this tool can lead to great conversation and opportunities to coach.

With all of these employee management tools, documentation is paramount. I cannot put enough emphasis on the absolute need to keep records on workplace incidents that involve employees. Collect and distribute these to the employee and human resources to make sure everyone is on the same page. You’ll also be able to better monitor your overall success in dealing with not only employee pains, but also painful employees.


Shiloh Kelly, Vice President of Marketing, Red Book Solutions | 20 years Cross Industry Experience | Corporate Marketing and National Sustainability Lead, BlueLinx |Chief Strategic and Creative Officer, Limelight Advertising | Strategic Marketing Manager, Vail Resorts


5 responses to “Employee Pains Add Up to Big Losses

  1. Very interesting topic, thank you for posting.

  2. i became a regular follower of your blog. thanks for all the good info.http://www.boliche.com.br/email.htm

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  5. Better management teaches you how can you play with situations and how can you handle it because business is mixture of profit and losses.

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