If you read the newspaper or watch the news a lot, you hear this term frequently about a company being accused of some misdeed by “a disgruntled former employee.” Have you ever wondered who this disgruntled former employee is? Were they born disgruntled or did something happen to make them dissatisfied with their job? Since this person is referred to so much in business reports, it might be interesting to know a little more about who this disgruntled former employee is. To be clear, employees are now also called “associates,” so feel free to insert the term “disgruntled former associate” as well as “disgruntled former worker” in place of “disgruntled former employee.”
As someone who has been in the workforce for many years, I have had the opportunity to work with many people who became disgruntled former employees. While it is true some of these employees did not actually want to work, or were under the impression merchandise didn’t have to be paid for, these are not the disgruntled former workers I am talking about. Most of the disgruntled former employees I have met had reasons to be disgruntled and to leave their employment.
I have dealt with this issue in a companion article: What Makes an Employee Disgruntled? Poor Management Types. Poor managers rank as the number one reason people become dissatisfied with their jobs. (1)
Inadequate compensation is a top reason employees loose their enthusiasm for a job, become disgruntled, and make the decision to leave. Hiring inexperienced new workers in at salaries equal to or greater than what experienced workers are making is a big cause for employee dissatisfaction. So is giving raises to your favorite employees while the office work horses get a pittance. Raises should be based upon personal performance, not tenure, favoritism, or nepotism. Raises should only be a “team” effort if you are the manager of the team and responible for the entire team.
Discrimination can be a serious problem in any job. In today’s workplace, discrimination can work in two ways. Sometimes minorities have experienced discriminatory practices on the job. In other situations, companies afraid of lawsuits turn a blind eye to infractions by minority workers. Either situation results in workers becoming disgruntled due to unfair work practices. Discrimination and reverse discrimination are common causes for worker dissatisfaction.
Retribution is a real problem in the workforce. An employee may receive unfair treatment because of a disability, or previous whistle-blowing activities, or for contacting the corporate office about issues on the job. Don’t bother to bring up legal rights! Employees know the first thing that will happen is they will be labeled a “disgruntled employee” or worse. Usually, management knows just how much they can push the envelop without making harassment, discrimination, retribution, or other issues a legal matter. And managers can frequently find other employees in their inner circle or those desperately wanting to climb the corporate ladder to side with them, leaving one disgruntled worker with a complaint standing alone.
Downsizing, Layoffs, Closures
Store closings, office layoffs, and plant downsizings often result in some disgruntled employees. Often employees are made promises about benefits, pensions, retirement, grandfathered situations, etc. when they are hired, just to discover it all means nothing when the store or plant closes, and all the benefits they counted on for retirement go up in smoke.
Businesses are becoming increasingly canny about all of this. Now employees often have to sign disclosure agreements when they accept a severance package that they will NOT discuss any of their package details, pay, or company policies with the media. In other words, if one disgruntled worker does go public, the rest will be extremely slow to follow for fear of legal retribution. Business also have legal teams, publicity departments and other resources designed to make them look beneficent while painting the disgruntled employee as one lone slob who just didn’t measure up.
Next time you hear about a whistle-blower or other former worker coming forward about problems at a previous business, don’t be surprised if they are labeled as “a disgruntled former employee.” This is the go-to term used for someone who probably has a legitimate complaint about a situation they were never able to address successfully while employed. And in case you are wondering, as I write this I am still gainfully employed, but one of these days as my company downsizes, I may be the “disgruntled former employee!”
What Makes an Employee Disgruntled? Poor Management Types
How to Be Bad Boss and a Poor Manager
Unemployment Tips for Tennessee