How to handle a disgruntled employee

Do you have to handle a disgruntled employee on your team? The situation is more common than you think — more than half of American workers currently feel unhappy at work, and 68% of them are disengaged.

These findings are alarming because no matter how hard you create a culture to work for, one disgruntled employee can erode overall employee morale and ultimately hurt your company’s bottom line. 

It’s essential to learn to handle an upset employee before they cause irreparable harm to your company culture. Here are a few ideas on managing a disgruntled employee.

How to handle a disgruntled employee (with steps) 

When it comes to managing disgruntled employee, you need to be smart and cautious. If you want to know how to handle a disgruntled employee, you need to focus on a few essential steps. First, if you are having behavioral issues with an employee, you can refer to our disciplinary notice here. 

managing disgruntled employee

A positive work environment matters – now more than ever.

Here, we reveal the crucial steps to calm down an employee that is upset and irritable. You will find out the methods and best practices to keep the right balance between the employees. Let’s see the best methods to handle a disgruntled employee.  

1. Keep it private 

Do not let other employees find out that one of the workers is disgruntled. There are many reasons for this possible situation, but other employees should not know the specific reasons for this matter. Keep the conversations private and do not let rumors spread around the building. If you need to talk to an employee, do it in a private office or behind closed doors so that you can feel more isolated. In this manner, the employee will appreciate your effort to keep the privacy intact. 

2. Remain professional 

If you are a manager at the company, you need to take care of large groups of people. You should ask the question “What is a disgruntled employee?” To answer this question, you should know that upset employees can significantly lower the productivity of the entire workplace. They can be a factor that does not add any value to the daily operations. They are not satisfied with their current situation, and they want to change things according to their preferences. 

No matter the case, you should remain professional if you wonder how to handle an upset employee. Swearing, yelling, and behaving badly will only heat the tension and it will lead to negative consequences. For these reasons, you should remain calm and professional in order to calm down the upset employee. 

3. Document everything 

When you document the necessary things during the discussions, you avoid possible problems in the future. If you document every warning and possible termination of the contract, you protect the interest of your company and yourself. At the same time, you have valid documentation if an employee determines to sue you in court. Documentation is a crucial thing if you notice the first disgruntled employee signs. 

4. Approach them with empathy 

We are all humans and we have feelings that can be hurt at any time. If you deal with a disgruntled employee, there are possible chances that you can solve the problem with a human approach and empathy. If you approach the employee with good intentions, he or she will feel appreciated and they will probably respond in the same manner. 

Keeping things heated and problematic can only make bigger problems in the organization. That is why the human approach and delivery of human emotions can make wonders for the normalization of the situation. 

5. Remain neutral 

The examples of disgruntled employees are numerous and there are many situations when an employee can become upset. There might be another employee that is rude or stubborn in their approach to the disgruntled employee. This difficult situation can evolve into conflict and there might be difficulties in communication. On the other hand, a disgruntled employee could have some private problems outside of the working place. The reasons are numerous, but you should remain neutral in your approach. 

Do not hold anyone’s side in the conflict and try to stay positive. When a disgruntled employee sees that you are neutral, they will lower their noise and they will behave better. 


It is good to apply these steps as soon as you notice the first disgruntled employee signs. When you know how to handle a disgruntled employee, your organization will not be affected. Deal with the upset employee in the right manner and ensure that no one is endangered in the workplace. 

Anna Verasai
Anna Versai is a Team Writer at The HR Digest; she covers topics related to Recruitment, Workplace Culture, Interview Tips, Employee Benefits, HR News and HR Leadership. She also writes for Technowize, providing her views on the Upcoming Technology, Product Reviews, and the latest apps and softwares.

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