disgruntled workers

A thought occurred to me earlier in the week: You can not get rid of disgruntled workers.

This could be taken two ways. The first, perhaps more obvious, is that no matter what employees come and go from a workplace, you will always have disgruntled workers. That is, there will always be people who are unhappy with the work and/or the workplace. It almost seems part of human nature to be constantly discontent at something (well, for some people, anyway).

As a colleague of mine once said, everyone wants the money, but no one wants to do the work. (He was exaggerating and oversimplifying, of course.)

While I do agree with all this to some extent, I was thinking of something more along the lines of “you can’t just get rid of disgruntled workers”.

I was thinking about this because someone was telling me about how someone else was disgruntled about something at work (sorry for the vagueness, but I don’t want to share work details here).  Disgruntled Worker is known for complaining and speaking their mind. Venting Worker made it seem like it would be easier to just get rid of Disgruntled Worker, and find someone else who will do the work.

I didn’t really comment either way at the time, but suggested a way to appease Disgruntled Worker.

Later, reflecting on the whole ordeal, I realised that, yes, it’s not great to have a colleague that grumbles and complains at every change or new request, but if you get rid of disgruntled workers, you still have the same problems. And maybe that’s how problems persist, and how companies churn through (disgruntled) workers.

So, no, you can not and should not get rid of disgruntled workers just because they raise a concern or are dissatisfied about something. If workers don’t voice their concerns, problems might get ignored — incidentally or intentionally — and no improvements are made.

Disgruntled Worker is actually also a leader in positive change in the workplace — they’ve made countless suggestions for improving the workplace, which less disgruntled workers probably would never have thought of. 

This is a redeeming quality that not all disgruntled workers will have, but they will all have complaints, and these complaints can be used to make improvements (you just have to do the thinking and idea generation yourself).

4 thoughts on “disgruntled workers

  1. Interesting take on the situation. You’re right that if it weren’t for disgruntled workers, change would only happen when bosses wanted it. And then, would it be good for everyone or just for the bosses? If you don’t identify a problem, you can’t find a solution. Probably why many people keep their heads buried in the sand, so that they never see a problem. Solutions take work.

    • Solutions do indeed take quite a bit of work sometimes. Receiving complaints can be exasperating, but as long as we can turn it into an opportunity for improvement, it’s worthwhile.

  2. Same thing with disgruntled beta readers in writing: “I like it; don’t change a thing,” doesn’t lead to closer looking, deeper thinking, and improved manuscripts.

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