A woman showing signs of being unhappy at work

10 Warning Signs You Are Unhappy at Work

Do you hate every new workweek and feel miserable at the mere thought of your job, office, to-do lists, boss, or coworkers? This could be a clear sign of job dissatisfaction.

While some may find these feelings enough to consider a job or career change, the signs may not be obvious to others.  Given that we spend a significant portion of our day at work, signs of workplace unhappiness shouldn't be ignored. 

Signs You Might Be Unhappy at Work  

Recognizing the symptoms of unhappiness and reflecting on your career goals can help you pinpoint the root problem. 

1. Procrastination

If you usually postpone tasks and wait until the last moment to complete them, you likely experience procrastination. Over time, procrastination results in poor outcomes and negative feedback and is a strong sign that an employee feels unhappy at work. 

Moreover, your dissatisfaction will grow if the human resource department regards procrastination as a personal weakness and laziness. 

Don’t ignore this sign, especially if you are often dedicated to your job. It can trigger guilt, stress, and ultimately negative emotions, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, and mental health challenges. 

2. Lack of initiative 

If you find yourself avoiding tasks you typically handle or being passive during team meetings, you may be experiencing job unhappiness. 

People motivated by their current company role have high initiative, feel fulfilled, and are eager to contribute. 

Whether it’s an emergency or you simply noticed some problems, if you are “still into your job” you will rush to help. 

 Thus, when was the last time you actually engaged with your team members?

Related: What is Happiness at the Workplace and Why It Matters?

3. Negative attitude 

Are you the one constantly complaining about tasks, colleagues, and company rules? It might not be about these issues. It could reflect your feelings about your company. Keep in mind the word “constantly”. 

So, it’s normal to have bad days or experience frustration about something at your job. But if negativity becomes your default state of mind, you may face job dissatisfaction. 

Employees with a negative attitude won’t be eager to participate in team activities or collaborate with colleagues. Here is an example.  

You have a colleague who has just started working in your company, and he or she needs your help to become familiar with the processes and the entire work environment. However, you don’t feel like offering a helping hand. Instead,  you vent your frustration about your work, team members, and company in general. 

4. Boreout

Every job involves some tedious tasks, and it’s normal to get bored at work occasionally. But if your boredom is not temporary or related to specific aspects of your job, you are experiencing boreout.  

Lotta Harju, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at EM Lyon Business School, described boreout as “chronic boredom,” characterized by meaninglessness and feeling that your work has no purpose. 

One of the first things workers who face boreout do in the morning is calculate the hours they will spend at their job. Unhappy employees feel the workday is even longer than it actually is. 

On the contrary, happy workers who are satisfied with their work get into the working flow and simply forget the time.

A graphic explaining the key differences between burnout and boreout

5. Reduced interactions with colleagues

Unhappy employees often prefer to work in isolation. They don’t engage with colleagues and avoid participating in team-building activities and collaborative projects.

Involving themselves in team activities and developing close relationships with colleagues shows that employee feel like part of the team.

Furthermore, recognizing and praising colleagues enhances the connection between team members, positively impacting work happiness. 

Considering how much time you spend at work, nurturing healthy relationships, and social interactions with your colleagues is normal.

Hence, if you fail to develop a meaningful relationship with at least one person at work or experience a toxic work environment, you won’t be able to feel truly happy.

6. Poor performance

Common signs of unhappiness at work can be found in work quality and performance.

According to the Harvard Business Review study, 90% of business leaders agreed that engaged employees perform better. 

Moreover, engaged and satisfied employees drive performance up to 150%. They invest additional time, effort, and energy to contribute to the company's success. 

So, If you were a high performer and dedicated to your work, and now start missing deadlines, submitting incomplete work, or consistently failing to meet targets, that should be a red alarm. 

7. Pettiness 

From the moment you get to work until the end of your working day, countless small things seem to get on your nerves and make you edgy. Someone didn’t clean their table desk after them, someone is talking too loudly in the office, or someone took too much space in your parking lot. Every little thing bugs you.

When you're unhappy, even the most minor things seem much more irritating than usual.

8. Burnout

One of the worst things about being unhappy at work is that this unhappiness is reflected in your personal life and influences the time you spend with your loved ones.

A recent study revealed that around 70% of employees experience unhappiness at work, often due to feelings of being overwhelmed or struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

If you’ve had a lousy day at work, it’s tough to come home and forget about your worries. If your whole week at work was terrible, having a relaxing, exciting, and carefree weekend is difficult.

Many successful companies offer flexible working as an employee benefit to prevent these feelings. This can significantly improve productivity, work-life balance, and employee satisfaction.

9. Distrust

Distrust can also be a sign of unhappiness at work. It can be reflected in a constant sense of suspicion toward others. 

Regardless of what people at work do, you worry about their motives. Every action your colleagues take is viewed with doubt. 

You feel you cannot trust anyone, as you don’t know who might be working behind your back. These feelings consume much more energy than any task you may have. 

If you perceive your surroundings as a toxic work environment where you don't feel comfortable, it could be a sign you are deeply dissatisfied and unhappy in the workplace.

10. Stress 

If you are accumulating stress over time it can lead to numerous psychological and physical problems. Christine Keller, a licensed counseling psychologist, warns, "Going to a job you hate every single day can put you into a state of desperation." 

Besides having negative reactions to your coworkers and the work environment, stress and unhappiness at work can cause physical pain, such as tension, headaches, low energy, muscle tension, and other symptoms.  

Furthermore, work-related stress can provoke digestive issues, insomnia, fatigue, and depression. It further impacts your overall mood and concentration, leading to a decrease in productivity. 

What Can You Do to Prevent Workplace Unhappiness?

Preventing unhappiness at work is part of your responsibility for your health. Don't wait for these symptoms to escalate and lead to quitting. 

Sometimes, small adjustments can significantly boost work satisfaction, engagement, and happiness. 

Feel free to discuss your feelings about the job with your employer openly. If your company doesn’t have any employee experience software, consider recommending it to them. 

This will allow you, as an employee, to share your feedback with your employer. 

On the other hand, the company can prevent workplace unhappiness by regularly tracking employees' feelings about their jobs, relationships with colleagues, and the workplace in general. It provides employers with real-time insights that help them truly understand their team’s needs. 

HeartCount is one such software. Thanks to weekly pulse surveys with HeartCount, you can answer how you felt that week at your job, what makes you unhappy, and why. 

That way, employers can track your satisfaction and well-being, which is the basis for improvements. 

You can go a step further. If the survey questions don’t address your issues, you can send a private message to the management, anonymously or not. 

What’s more, with HeartCount, you can write a comment directly to your HR department to request a meeting to discuss your concerns. 

By sincerely sharing your feedback with your executives you can take the first step towards feeling more satisfied and happy with your job.  

Explore HeartCount

Virtual conference on how to improve business performance, the screen displays a grid with each person in a separate window

Webinar Impressions: How to Use Data To Improve Business Performance - Best Practices

Improve business performance with HeartCount. During our last webinar we had a chance to hear some business practices regarding the usage of data in the IT industry. Our moderator, Aleksandra Radujko, Human Value Manager at Emakina RS, took it upon herself to make the whole process a little bit more fun, while still maintaining the educational aspect. Our amazing guests, Tamara Jokanović from Represent Communications and Ivana Canić from Strauss Adriatic, Anne van der Heide, Happiness Officer for Bizzomate, and Vuk Popović, Group CIO at Argus Data Insights shared with us what the data means to them and what are the benefits of using the right data at the right time.  To find out more about their best practices, continue reading!

To watch the whole webinar, visit our YouTube channel.

How did HeartCount help you and what other numbers do you use in your work?

  • Ivana: Besides the general numbers that all companies follow, we also measure the turnover rate in the first year, engagement rate and many other things. HeartCount brought a different type of numbers into perspective, so now we can see what’s happening within our company timely and in more detail. Shortly, it shows what might be the cause of a certain problem and what is the adequate solution. Numbers help us focus our energy on things that matter more efficiently.
  • Tamara: We managed to get insights into what bothers people the most. Due to the Covid-19 situation, we had to find a way to stay connected. And that’s what HeartCount helped us do. It was one place where we all “met”.

What is the biggest benefit of using data to improve business performance?

  • Tamara: For us, it’s definitely the fact that we can get a closer look into each of our employees' emotional and mental state at work. Why someone feels bad, if they have enough energy for day-to-day activities, and similar. In moments like this, it’s very important to notice change early and react as soon as possible before it turns into something bigger and more complex. Of course, at first we weren’t sure about the response rate and how people would react. The industry we’re in is pretty specific and the fluctuation of employees can be a big problem. Also the scope of work sometimes leaves us with no time to talk to people directly. Now it’s simply not an option to say that we didn’t know. We can always find out what bothers them and there are no excuses for not doing it on time.
  • Ivana: I have to agree with Tamara on this one - there is no excuse. HeartCount tool gives as an opportunity to act timely. You get to see what’s happening on a weekly basis. Of course, we also weren’t sure how people would feel about using the tool due to the specifics of our industry. But it turned out that the people who we thought might dislike it ended up using it the most. When it comes to data, it’s not just about what’s not working and what’s bad — it’s also about reflecting on the things we did well. It’s a communication channel in a way, and it leaves people enough space to share their suggestions with us. Also, it leaves employees no space to say that they didn't have a chance to express their thoughts. So, no excuses both ways.

What’s your experience with team reports?

  • Tamara: We also have a variety of different teams. We thought the PR team would be the most active one, considering the nature of their job. But we also wanted the rest of the teams to get involved. Designers, translators, and other teams that didn’t work from our offices. Giving those people a chance to share their thoughts on the one hand, and giving us an opportunity to connect with them, on the other hand. It definitely helped me understand the climate in each team, without having any previous experience working in those fields.
  • Ivana: Team reports are really important for us. We see the biggest benefit of HeartCount in its ability to monitor how our new leaders are doing, especially because of the responsibility that comes with this role. HeartCount is an opportunity for us to help them.

3 key things to consider when it comes to data, based on the Bizzomate’s business practices:

  • Recognize the importance of taking care of your people

The core of every company's success is its people. Before delving into the topic of improving business practices and bringing value to the organization, companies must be people oriented. This is especially important when it comes to the IT industry due to the high demand in this field. As Anne pointed out: “Once somebody is in and you like them it's extremely important to keep them.” 

From lunch to the feeling of purpose. Career paths, performance cycles and everything in between. It is crucial for the company to take care of their people. 

  • Have a short connection with people and low threshold for them to reach out to you

Bizzomate introduced HeartCount to its employees in the middle of Covid-19 situation. Having a breakdown of their week through a 3-question-long questionnaire lowered a threshold for employees to reach out in need of support.. It was as simple as marking the “not so good” option. This also meant that it was possible to quantify and measure the results of the survey and extract the right data to act on. 

  • Customize the questions around specific content

One of HeartCount’s features is its ability to import customized questions, molded into current needs of your company. This gives us insights into real-time information about how your people feel about their work. Nonetheless, it doesn't replace the importance of face-to-face communication, but it's easier to approach people and act on time. 

Our other guest speaker was Vuk Popović from Argus Data Insights. Vuk’s IT department was the first one that introduced HeartCount to its people a year and a half ago, following other departments after a while. 

3 things to take from Argus Data Insight’s business practices when it comes to data:

  • Collecting the data gives you space and time to adapt to new situations

Reacting in a timely manner is one of the most important things in the business world. Being proactive and thinking a few steps ahead is the way to go every time you have the right information to do so. So, make sure to collect as much information as you possibly can. 

  • Diversify the questions

The previous approach they had at ADI wasn’t good enough to get the big picture. And in order to make some changes, you need a broader view on things. If you always ask the same questions, there’s a big chance you’re going to miss something. 

  • Be proactive & get the ball rolling

One of the biggest problems is getting people to talk about the challenges they are facing. People tend to want to cover things up, as it seems like an easier option at that given moment. In Vuk’s opinion, HeartCount is an excellent tool to “get the ball rolling” meaning to encourage someone to open up to you about how satisfied they are with their work they are and if there is anything they would like to change.  

It would only be fair to stop here, and empower you to head over to our YouTube channel to watch the webinar and find out more interesting facts about how data can enable you to nurture a good company culture.

*The webinar is in Serbian

People in a meeting discussing work topics and being productive

5 New Rules of Productivity

Every workplace wants to increase productivity and help their employees get more work done. That just makes sense.

There’s just one problem: many people’s view of productivity still comes from the industrial revolution 150 years ago where work was much more simple and predictable. This leads to some fundamental misconceptions about work like:

  • If you work more hours, you get more work done
  • Adding more people to a project means you can finish sooner
  • Productivity is more or less constant and can be reliably predicted and scheduled.

This turns out to be wrong in modern workplaces, especially for anyone who works with information rather than just physically producing stuff. In fact, these beliefs are not only wrong, they’re actively harmful.

So here is my suggestion for 5 new rules of productivity for modern workplaces and some specific tips on how to apply them.

1. Productivity varies wildly from day to day. This is normal.

100 years ago, production and output could be planned in advance barring accidents or equipment failure. Basically you knew that if the factory operated for a certain number of hours tomorrow you’d produce a certain number of widgets.

In a modern workplace, you can’t possibly know in advance what the productivity will be tomorrow. Tomorrow could be a day when one of your employees reaches a brilliant insight that saves the team weeks of work and the whole team works energetically and productively for 8 hours.

But tomorrow could also be the day when half the team spends 8 hours staring dejectedly into their monitors or someone makes a mistake that will take days to find and fix.

This variation is frustrating but it’s perfectly normal. It also means that you should never judge your employees’ productivity by their output on any given day but rather by their average productivity over many days.

I saw this firsthand when I was writing my first book. Some days I’d sit myself down in front of my laptop, unable to string two words together. And some mornings I banged out most of the chapter in a few hours.

Writing is a creative process. I can do it when I’m in the mood. Trying to write when I’m not, is a waste of time. On the days when I couldn’t write, I’d just go do something else. Probably wakeboarding.

The result: I wrote the whole book in a couple of months, it turned out really well AND I enjoyed the writing process immensely.

Three things your workplace can do about this:

  • Don’t make plans based only on a team’s maximum productivity days. Not every day will be like that. Base your plans on a team’s average productivity.
  • Don’t beat people up on their low-productivity days. It’s normal, it’s part of the flow and these days have value too. I like to think that, during these days, my subconsciousness is working on solving some really complex problem and that the solution will suddenly appear fully formed in my mind.
  • If people do have a day when they get very little done, why not let them go home early and relax or get some private chores done?

2. Working more hours means getting less done

The point is simple: Permanent overwork lowers output. People get LESS work done in 60 hours a week than they do in 40.

Here’s a real life example from Arlie Hochschild’s excellent book The Time Bind.

ESI, a computer company in Portland Oregon, was facing tough times and here’s what happened according to one of their executives:

“When demand for a product is down, normally a company fires some people and makes the rest work twice as hard. Instead, we went down to a thirty-two-hour-a-week schedule for everyone during the down time. We took everybody’s hours and salary down – executives too.”

Then he discovered two surprises.

“First, productivity did not decline. I swear to God we get as much out of them at thirty-two hours as we did at forty. So it’s not a bad business decision. But second, when economic conditions improved, we offered them one hundred percent again. No one wanted to go back!

Never in our wildest dreams would our managers have designed a four-day week. But it’s endured at the insistence of our employees.”

This may be counter-intuitive but it’s important to grasp: In a modern workplace, there is no simple linear relationship between hours worked and output and permanent overwork means lower output. Studies show that it also makes employees stressed and sick.

Three things you can do about this:

  • Never make employees work permanent overtime. In fact, some studies indicate that knowledge workers are the most productive when they work 35 hours a week.
  • Give employees flexibility to plan their working hours in the way that works best for them.
  • Consider introducing a 30-hour work week. This has worked in many companies, for instance at Toyota Center Gothenburg in Sweden.

3. Working harder means getting less done

A lot of people mistakenly think that employees get more done if they work harder. Some managers talk about creating a sense of urgency or a burning platform, so that employees feel pressure to work harder. They think that an increase in effort means an increase in productivity.

But in modern workplaces that just does not work because you can’t force creativity, effective teamwork, good writing, clear thinking or fast learning. In fact, more pressure tends to create the opposite effect and employees achieve less.

Three things you can do about this:

Take the pressure off yourself and your teams. Even if someone makes a mistake or misses a deadline the world probably isn’t going to end. Less pressure means higher productivity.

Schedule a workload equivalent to only 80% of the team’s work week. Trust me, they won’t be wasting the remaining 20%, but they will be more relaxed and more productive.

Shift work around so that employees spend most of their time doing tasks they enjoy.

4. Make sure to have downtime

In an industrial-age factory, any time away from the production line was unproductive time and therefore all downtime was bad.

That does not work anymore. Countless studies show that people need downtime, breaks and vacations in order to be productive.

Three things you can do about this:

  • Show employees that it’s always OK to take breaks. Do not beat them up for relaxing. Everybody does it once in a while. It doesn’t make them a lazy bastard or a bad person.
  • Make sure that employees actually take their days off and use their vacation time. In many countries, employees don’t use the vacation time they’re entitled to.
  • Stop the always-on culture, where managers send emails in the evenings and at weekends and expect employees to respond right away.

Here’s a great example. When Joe Biden was still vice-president, he sent a memo to his staff with a fantastic message.

“I would like to take a moment and make something clear to everyone. I do not want any of you to sacrifice important family obligations for work… This is very important to me... If I find out you are working with me while missing important family responsibilities, it will disappoint me greatly.”

5. Happiness is the ultimate productivity booster

The single most efficient way to increase your employees’ productivity is to help them be happy at work. No system, tool or process in the world can beat the productivity boost a person gets from really, really enjoying their work.

I’m not knocking all the traditional productivity techniques out there. Some of them are fine. It’s just that when you apply them to a person who is unhappy at work, you’re trying to fix something at a surface level when the problem goes much deeper.

My favorite book on this topic is “The Progress Principle” By Teresa Amabile where she talks about the relationship between happiness and productivity.

“People are more creative and productive when... they feel happy, are intrinsically motivated by the work itself, and have positive perceptions of their colleagues and the organization... In those positive states, people are more committed to the work and more collegial toward those around them. Inner work life, we saw, can fluctuate from one day to the next—sometimes wildly—and performance along with it.” - Source

The conclusion is clear: Happy employees are productive. Miserable employees are not.

3 things you can do about this:

  • Stop using perks and pay to motivate people. Employees are definitely unhappy when they’re paid unfairly but no one is happy because their salary is high or there’s a ping pong table in the office.
  • Instead focus on results and relationships. Make sure that employees feel they do great work together with great people.
  • Measure employee happiness (and unhappiness) so you know exactly what’s working and what you can do better.

The upshot

The traditional view of productivity is wrong and harmful but it remains the dominant view and still impacts much of our thinking and many of our choices at work.

That is why we need to shift our thinking and put our employees first. Only then can they be productive in a sustainable way.

An unhappy man symbolizing why overwork is bad for the business

Overwork: Why Is It Bad for You and Your Business

How many of you have heard an executive saying these words:

"I usually get up around 7 or 8 a.m after I have had a good night's sleep. I believe that it is crucial to rest as much as you can, especially at night, to be able to make the right decisions throughout the day. I know that most leaders start their day extremely early, but honestly, this doesn't work for me.

Also, I always make sure that I work for around 40 hours a week, no more, no less, and I never work on weekends. There are a few reasons why I stick to this schedule. Besides work, I have my private life, a family which means a world to me, and friends I like to hang out with from time to time. I believe my private life helps me recharge my batteries, get ready for another working week, and actually makes me more efficient and productive daily.

Also, I must say that if I constantly go to my office early in the morning around 6 a.m and leave work around 9 p.m, this sends a message to my employees that it is OK to work overtime and even desirable. This consequently may put a lot of strain on my colleagues and make them overwork. In other words, this can make them believe that this kind of attitude towards work is "the right way". But it isn't."

In reality, for most leaders and employees, the first 40 hours of work each week are much more worth than the next 20, 30, 40 hours. However, keep in mind that those extra 20, 30 hours a week can significantly harm your private life and even have a bad impact on your health. If you experience burnout, it won't do any good for you, your family, your friends, colleagues, and the company itself. Everyone loses. "

So, have you met any executive who said this? 

Let me take a wild guess? You haven't.

The reality is quite different. Most of the executives usually say that they get up around 5 o'clock, arrive at their office at 6 a.m and work between 12 and 16 hours a day. Of course, their working day doesn't end once they come home. They usually spend their evening answering emails and doing all the things that they haven't had time to complete during their working day.

With such a dynamic lifestyle all of us live today, it's unfortunately somewhat normal to see leaders, executives, bosses, and some regular employees working this hard. But, it's beyond doubt that they would be more efficient and their life more enjoyable and fulfilling if they cut down their time at work. In this way, they would be able to see things more clearly, focus on things that matter, and have enough time for both family and friends. After all, isn't that what life is all about? We can't expect to be happy if we spend 24/7 at work. Things simply don't go that way. Bottom line: this cult of overwork has got to stop.

Despite the widespread belief that if you work overtime, you will achieve better results, working your but off is actually equally bad for people and business.

Change the formula, and you'll reap amazing benefits!

The young woman is working remotely, demonstrating how to be more productive when working from home

7 Tips How to Be More Productive When Working from Home

It’s no surprise that working remotely is a worldwide rising trend. Having the opportunity to work from home is an important benefit to a lot of people these days.

But, in the wake of COVID-19 crisis worldwide, this is the number one topic in the world of business. Having so many people working from home is a big challenge for many companies that are not used to it.

If you are working from home and you find it difficult to focus and be as productive as you are at your workplace, keep on reading because we are sharing 7 tips to help you get things done! 

Is Working from Home Less Productive Than Working in the Office?

It is a myth that remote working is less productive! Yes, we are creatures of habit and switching to “lazy mode” is something that many companies are concerned about when “home office” is mentioned. But, If you have the right tools and a plan, working from home can be both productive and fun at the same time. 

How to Get Things Done When Working Remotely

For people who are used to remote working, these new circumstances don’t seem unusual. But for the rest, it’s something new and kinda scary. The key is to have a plan on how to stay productive during this period. So let’s dive in:

1. Stick to your everyday routine

Waking up 10 minutes before your workday starts and turning on your laptop while still in your pyjamas sounds great, doesn’t it? But try to resist it. Why? We’ve already mentioned that human beings are creatures of habit, and this habit is the one making us procrastinate. So the solution is simple - don’t break your everyday routine. Get up, do your morning routine, get dressed and then start your workday. By doing this you will send a message to your brain that the time to work is now.

2. Create a workspace tailored to your needs

We all know how important it is to feel good at your office because when you feel happy at work you are more productive. This is why your home office should have the same vibe. Get all of those notebooks, coffee mugs, pencils, cute stickers and design your own workspace. Make it a place where you’ll be happy to spend time in and work every day. This workspace will also stimulate you to act more diligently when you’re in it.

3. Plan out your day and stick to it

If you want to stay productive and not waste your energy, you will need to structure your workday. Imagine it is a game of Tetris. For example, if you know when you will have your meetings, you will be able to organise the rest of your tasks. If you think your creativity kicks in in the afternoon, leave those tasks for that period of time. Also, always remember to set daily goals and stick to them.

4. Define your working hours

No matter if you are working from the office or your home, you need to create a balance between your personal and professional life. This is definitely harder while working from home. Nevertheless, you need to set some ground rules. If your work hours are from 9 to 5 then they should be the same when working from home. It’s so easy to fall into this trap of working throughout the day. Sure, you can slide by like this for a few days, but after some time tiredness will catch up and you will become less productive.

5. Keep your colleagues in the loop

Since working from home can create a feeling of isolation, be sure to catch up with your colleagues. Yes, you will have your meetings and talk about work stuff, but having a group on Skype, Facebook, Slack or anywhere else is a great idea. If you are feeling down or need a boost, these groups can be a great place to talk to your colleague and express how you feel or have fun with them. Just make sure these chats don’t turn into procrastination sessions. 

6. Keep the distractions at a minimum

From social media to your family at home, many things can distract you while trying to work. Try to put your phone aside. If you have to work with it mute your notifications during your work hours. As for your loved ones, try to talk to them and explain to them how important it is for you to have your personal space and time while working. These are just a couple of distractions that can decrease your productivity and cause procrastination. But no matter what you are distracted by, try to set boundaries and focus on your work. 

7. Reward yourself after a job well done

It’s okay to be proud of yourself and your achievements at the end of the day. So reward yourself after a job well done. No matter if that’s a piece of candy, a hot bath, a new book you’ve been wanting to read, or a new TV series. It is always a good idea to have something to look forward to as a motivational booster.

Let’s Get Things Done! 

Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you can’t be productive. So, tomorrow, when you get up, focus on these tips and do your best. I believe in you!