6 Ways to Handle a Miffed Employee Harming Your Business Reputation

They hide in cubicle shadows and have direct access to the C-suite. Their dispositions range from dour to downright disagreeable. There are more of them than you think, and those who exist can have an insidious effect on your company. They are the disgruntled, and they can harm your business’s reputation. According to Kelly Services, nearly 50 percent of employees around the world are unhappy in their jobs. And in the United States, the percentage of employees who are considered by Gallup to be engaged in their jobs was only 32 percent--and about 17 percent were "actively disengaged." It's the actively disengaged you need to worry about. If almost one out of every five employees is actively disengaged, you had better have a plan to handle them. They're miffed. They've stopped trying. And they can harm your business’s reputation. Here is a look at who the six types of unhappy employees and how to handle them:

1) Trash Talkers

Trash talkers are employees who badmouth their companies. Sometimes they do it at happy hour. Sometimes, the trash talking takes place in the office. More often than not it occurs online--and it can spread like wildfire. If you don't think trash talkers are a problem, take a look at what happened after an angry Target employee went public on social media with concerns about the company's culture. It wasn't pretty. To combat trash talkers, make sure you have a strong social media policy, enforce it and reinforce the damage that can be done by online trash talking.

2) Tamperers

The year was 1996 and a newly fired engineer decided it would be a good idea to set up a digital bomb that would delete all of his company's programs. He did, and his employer, Omega Engineering Corp., wound up losing $10 million in sales and contracts. You can prevent tampering by making sure you have a two-person rule in place, which ensures that no one person is ever responsible for crucial software or systems.

3) Thieves

They steal intellectual property, taking it to new jobs where they undercut your ability to profit from your work--and help the competition thrive.
To deal with IP thieves, you need to have rock-solid non-disclosure agreements and non-compete clauses in contracts. You should also try to weed out IP thieves before they join your team. If a prospect offers information about another company, tell them to take a hike.

4) Mopes and Complainers

Mopes and complainers are easy to spot and easy to overlook. They are the clearly unhappy employees who walk around frowning all day, quietly complaining about anything and everything. Don't ignore the mopes and complainers. If ignored, their malaise can slowly become a miasma that permeates the entire company. Recognize mopes quickly, coach them up or manage them up. But do not ignore them.

5) The Frightening

If you have an employee who engages in threatening behavior, they need to be dealt with immediately. The frightening include those who glare at co-workers, engage in sexual harassment, are loud and even mildly violent. They simply need to go before something bad happens.

6) The Legitimate

Not all angry employees are misguided. Some actually have legitimate concerns about their jobs and the company--and have everyone's best interest at heart. Identify them (as difficult as it can be) and then be willing to engage them and work with them before they become whistle blowers.