We work 92,120 paid hours over the course of our lifetimes. That’s a lot of minutes spent doing the same thing, day in, day out. So why are so many of us still holding up jobs we hate? It’s not like the problem is just the employees’, either. Unhappy workers cost businesses serious moolah in terms of both performance and productivity.

Want to get the most out of our workforce? Avoid these common causes of workplace discontent.

Poor management

It’s one thing to dislike your boss. Disagreements over manners, politics or even work practices can erode any working relationship. But the truly destructive force that will undermine any power dynamic? Disrespect.

If any employee cannot respect their manager, they will make no effort to impress them. Furthermore, if that worker feels disrespected themselves, their enthusiasm for the job will plummet.

We all have skills in this world and it is the prerogative of every man or woman to function in an environment where theirs are valued. As soon as a worker feels less than treasured by an organization, they will jump ship.

The answer?

Stop the micromanaging. Train your managers to set clear boundaries and expectations. Establish clear, fair targets based on feedback and frank discussion with your employees. A 2017 CIPD report shows that a fifth (23%) of employees believe their organization’s performance management processes are unfair; don’t be among those to quash real results with poor measurement.


Contrary to many employers’ beliefs, people generally want to be good at their jobs. They want to be challenged, to self-improve, to hit targets and contribute to a team effort. But to achieve all these things they also need to feel part of the bigger picture.

It’s hard to enjoy formatting reports when you don’t understand the point of them. Equally, it’s difficult to care about making your third sale of the week if you don’t see how it’s going to affect the business at large.

People want not just to feel valued, but to see what value they are adding to the company. Let them understand their place in the grand scheme and watch their personal investment soar.

The answer?

Award commission. Offer stock options. Publish the business’ monthly statistics. Add a charitable element to your work. Allow employees to own their contributions. Encourage employees to invest themselves – emotionally or otherwise – in your business.

Ask yourself: why should my employees want to do their job well? If your only answer is ‘pride’, you’re in a for a nasty shock.


Nobody wants to be in the same place next year as they are today. Unfortunately, many jobs can feel like a treadmill; no matter how hard you try, you’re not getting anywhere fast.

Want to know why people are jumping ship from your organization? They see nowhere else to go. According to the same CIPD survey, 27% of workers are dissatisfied with the opportunities granted by employers to develop. In fact, 36% feel they’re unlikely to fulfill their career aspirations in their current workplace.

The answer?

Ensure that there is a clear route of progression within your company. Even if you can’t offer promotions ad infinitum, implement biannual performance reviews, awarding pay rises to individuals who meet targets. Train your newbies, empower your veterans, reward your stalwarts and everyone should gain.


To be legally ‘hostile’, a workplace must see regular discrimination based on sexuality, gender, race, age, pregnancy, disability or other protected characteristics. Of course, physical and sexual assault also qualify. But while Stephen calling Nancy a ‘nasty woman’ may not land your office in legal hot water, it could still send morale plummeting.

Working relationships are complicated. Boundaries must be set and maintained and – all to often – good acquaintances kept at arm’s length. But when those relationships move too far in either direction, whether over-friendly or actively inimical, it can all get a little uncomfortable in the office.

From drinking cultures to cold fish, workplaces don’t need to be ‘hostile’ to be untenable.

The answer?

Keep an eye on your office dynamic. If things get a bit cliquey, ask yourself who’s being left out and why. If a form of borderline discrimination is occurring – for example, isolating an older member of the workforce – then a few discreet conversations may be necessary.

Similarly, if two workers come to blows or you notice an increase in gossip-mongering or hostile behavior, encourage those with difficulties to discuss their problems calmly. If the problem can’t be fixed, enable them to avoid one another as much as possible in the office.


We live in a post-internet world. The vast majority of jobs can be done online with a decent Wifi connection. Or from the other side of the world in a beachside cafe. Or on a train headed north for the weekend. So why are we still forcing our employees to endure long, wearing commutes and the distractions of an office environment?

Sure, most employees enjoy going into the office. Most office workers, given the choice, wouldn’t trade their desks for a permanent work-from-home situation. But monthly work-from-home days? They’d take that deal in a second. Office life can be exciting but it can also be samey and wearing. Forcing the same old rigmarole on your workers isn’t ‘asserting standards’. It’s sending them back to school.

The answer?

Treat your employees like adults. Set them clear targets and timeframes and then let them arrange their working lives as they see fit. If they want to shift their hours back two and it makes no difference to the company, what’s the problem? If they’re feeling crap but need to get that report in, what’s wrong with giving them a duvet day?

Staring down the barrel of a mutinous workforce? Your problems may be down to one or more of the above. Follow the appropriate processes and you could save yourself more than peace of mind!