The Big Quit Continues: Why Employees are Unhappy at Work
The Big Quit Continues: Why Employees are Unhappy at Work

Job dissatisfaction is at an all-time high. Despite fears of a recession, the Big Quit is still underway, with more and more people quitting their jobs in search of something better.

I’ve written previously about the Big Quit phenomenon, and how the uncertainty of the pandemic has impacted our work-related choices.

unhappy employee starts job searchCertainly, wages are a major factor in this decision-making process. With the cost of living rising and wages not keeping pace, it’s no wonder that people are looking for greener pastures. In addition, many people are motivated by the desire for more flexible work arrangements and a better work-life balance.

With so many positions open in the job market, employees feel they have the luxury of being choosy about their next employer, because according to Gallup’s recently released State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report, employees are unhappy at work.

There are many reasons why employees may be unhappy. The biggest contributing factors include job satisfaction, work-life balance, and workplace location. But according to Gallup, the number one reported cause of dissatisfaction with the job experience is “unfair treatment at work.”

What is Unfair Treatment at Work?

Unfair treatment takes many forms, from favouritism to discrimination to micromanagement and unrealistic expectations.

Unfair treatment can include things like:

  • A lack of respect and acknowledgment for contributions
  • Someone having their work undermined by a colleague or manager, even though they are competent and skilled at their job
  • A manager taking a dislike to a particular employee and make their life difficult by unfairly criticising their work or assigning them menial tasks
  • An employee overlooked for promotion in favour of a less qualified colleague

female unhappy employee at workThe current economic conditions are also contributing to this feeling of unfair treatment. Employees who don’t feel they’re being paid what they’re worth are going to feel undervalued. Post-pandemic inflation is exacerbating the feeling of being undervalued and treated unfairly by employers.

While this may be a difficult time for employers, it’s important to remember that this turnover is happening for a reason. Employees are asserting their worth in the marketplace, and they are demanding better compensation and working conditions.

Employees who feel unsupported, undervalued, or irrelevant to their employers are naturally going to feel disengaged from their work. In addition, unhappy employees that feel like their work isn’t meaningful or think that they’re not being adequately challenged can also feel emotionally disconnected. When disengagement sets in, it can be very difficult for employees to find the motivation to continue performing at a high level.

Employee Disengagement = Unhappy Employee

Employee disengagement is plaguing companies all over the world. According to Gallup, 60 percent of workers are emotionally disconnected from their work, and 19 percent are unhappy with their jobs. This disengagement can lead to a number of problems that Gallup’s study says are costing the global economy over $7.8 trillion.

unhappy employee quits jobFor employers, this means employee turnover, as we’re already seeing with the Big Quit as unhappy employees search for better opportunities. Employers experiencing turnover must contend with the costs associated with losing experienced workers and training new ones.

But for those who don’t leave, their unhappiness has a number of negative consequences for their employers. Disengagement can lead to reduced productivity and creativity. Disengaged, unhappy employees are more likely to call in sick because they actually feel (emotionally) sick at the thought of going to work. Additionally, unhappy employees can spread negativity to their co-workers, which creates a toxic work environment. All of these things can have a negative impact on a company’s bottom line.

How Can Organizations Help?

Fortunately, there are many things that organizations can do to address disengagement and promote employee happiness. Employee engagement programs, for example, focus on helping employees find meaning in their work. Other companies have implemented four-day work weeks, and remote work policies to promote work-life balance.

Additionally, employers can focus on creating a fair and inclusive work environment. This means promoting diversity and equality, setting clear expectations, and managing workloads in a way that doesn’t leave employees feeling overwhelmed. Additionally, companies can provide training and development opportunities to help employees feel challenged and engaged in their work. Finally, companies can create employee recognition programs to show appreciation for a job well done. All of these things can help create a more positive work environment and improve employee satisfaction.

No matter what approach companies take, it is important to remember that happy employees are more productive, creative, and engaged employees. By promoting employee happiness, companies can create a more positive work environment and improve their overall bottom line.

How Can Employees Find Ways to be Happy at Work?

black man is a very unhappy employeeThere are also several things that employees can do if they feel they’re being treated unfairly at work. First, they can talk to their manager or HR department. This is a good way to get a sense of what the company’s policies are and how they can be improved. They can also join employee resource groups or employee networks to create a feeling of inclusion and peer support. These groups provide support and advocacy for underrepresented employees who are sometimes overlooked or even mistreated. Some employers provide employee assistance programs for help. These programs provide confidential counselling and support to employees who are struggling with work-related issues.

If you’re feeling dissatisfied with your job experience, it’s important to take a step back and assess the situation. Is there a specific issue that’s causing you to feel you’re being treated unfairly? Are your expectations realistic? Are you managing your time and energy effectively?

Take a look at your job satisfaction. Are you doing something that you’re passionate about? If not, is it time to consider a new direction for your career?

Next, focus on your work-life balance. Make sure you’re taking time for yourself outside of work.

Once you’ve identified the root cause of your dissatisfaction, you can begin to make changes. If the problem is with your employer, you may need to have a difficult conversation or start to look for a new job (not necessarily in that order). If the problem is with your own attitude or approach, you can start making changes to reframe things to improve your satisfaction. Whatever the cause, remember that you have the power to change your situation.

Additionally, employees can take control of their careers through some careful self-examination, and by considering all aspects of their current situation. It may involve changing jobs or making a career change that they’re passionate about. It could be needing to focusing on work-life balance and if their priorities need to be re-examined. Or, it could simply be taking advantage of employee assistance programs.

If all parties are willing, companies and employees can take the steps to work together in creating a happier, more fulfilling and productive workplace.


Reach out today for a free and confidential initial consultation by phone, email, or via direct message on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.


More than career coaching, it’s career psychology®.


I/O Advisory Services Inc. – Building Resilient Careers and Organizations TM.

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