February skies: the disgruntled employee

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By Annabel Mackay

Five years on from the financial crisis and employees continue to face an uncertain future. The relentless downsizing and cost cutting continues unabated as employers expect more for less. Employees may find that as their teams have contracted dramatically, employers’ expectations have stayed the same or even increased. As commuters struggle to work under oppressive February skies, the rewards associated with such high pressurised working environments look increasingly remote.

With bleak promotion prospects and the scaling back of discretionary compensation, employees may be tempted to look elsewhere. Yet, in the current market, the grass is not necessarily greener and there is an advantage to staying put, even if simply to maintain continuity of service in a volatile market. With such a negative/pessimistic outlook, employers are faced with a de-motivated workforce, clinging to their jobs with grim determination.

In this scenario, an employee may continue to carry out his core responsibilities but display a marked lack of enthusiasm with his employer, their role or both. This disengagement might manifest itself in a de facto ‘work to rule’ approach or in challenges to management and negative remarks to clients or colleagues. Such negativity can quickly contaminate the team as a whole, creating a downward spiral as performance and productivity declines. When faced with this type of behaviour, employers can struggle with how to resolve the issue. The employee may be complaining but competent. Is their negativity a performance or misconduct issue or is there an alternative approach? …

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