Insightlink Home

Employee Surveys Blog

Why Employees Who Mask Their Unhappiness Are Lethal

Posted by Insightlink on 11/21/16

"An organization pays a heavy price when its bright, capable people quit and leave. But it’s even more costly when bright, capable people quit and stay.” — Rodger Dean Duncan

One of the overwhelming challenges of being in HR is being held accountable for maximizing retention and reducing turnover. A great deal of effort and energy gets spent making sure employees don’t quit but there are many times when they do despite it all. Feelings of abandonment might echo the halls of HR when it happens but there are other ways unhappy employees process their environments that are not so obvious but maybe more lethal.

There are three basic tactics or coping mechanisms employees use when they are unhappy with their jobs:

  1. Proactively work to make the situation better. This may seem like the best path but it also the most difficult. It usually involves confronting people about the root causes of their frustration. It requires that the unhappy employee confront people, and possibly their own direct manager, about the reasons they are struggling and that can be demoralizing.
  2. Quit. This one is pretty straightforward. At some point, people will decide that life is too short to be frustrated and discouraged at work, and they’ll search for a new job. And if they’re good at their jobs it won’t be difficult for them to find a new one and leave.
  3. Quit and stay. Ultimately, this is the path of least resistance, and the one many employees choose, sometimes even subconsciously. These folks rationalize not quitting by thinking “Hey, I’m still getting paid so I’ll just hang in and detach emotionally so it doesn’t get to me anymore.” If this decision is being made by enough employees, then this will erode a company’s culture from the inside out as service, productivity and morale decline. 

Here at Insightlink we call these employees Dissatisfied Compromisers. Based on our annual Employee Benchmark study, Dissatisfied Compromisers make up more than one quarter of all U.S. employees, a substantial and alarming proportion. 

Not only do Dissatisfied Compromisers account for one-in-four employees but their ratings are understandably lower on all key measures of Commitment, Culture, Communications and Compensation, the 4Cs that define Insightlink's model of employee engagement.

Dissatisfied Compromisers are especially low in perceptions of morale, including their own sense of morale. Here is a quote from a recent study:

"There are people within our own department who cast a negative pall over much of what we do. Add to that my perception that the organization as a whole is STILL -- despite all claims to the contrary -- highly reactive, rather than proactive, in far too many instances. It's extremely difficult to be upbeat in an atmosphere that seems driven, in large part, by fear and plagued with finger-pointing."

The impact of the Dissatisfied Compromisers dynamic on organizations is considerable. When dissatisfied employees stay they are often unable or unwilling to pull their weight, which usually further impacts morale because their co-workers are resentful at having to pick up the slack.Very often they complain loudly and come to be known as squeaky wheels. If management doesn't address the problem, dissatisfaction will spread to other employees, causing productivity and performance to be compromised. Over long periods of time the impact on an organization can be lethal and extremely toxic.

Finding out how many of these employees work in your organization can be a highly effective strategy for improving morale, productivity and managing retention. An Insightlink 4Cs employee engagement study will not only tell you how many of your employees are Dissatisfied Compromisers but will also give you clear direction on action to take to address their dissatisfaction. By implementing a strategic action plan based on your 4Cs results, you can make a substantial increase in overall job satisfaction and shift some of them into becoming your most loyal advocates and ambassadors.

If you are ready to see what's happening and are set to move forward on a meaningful path to improving your organization, please let us know. You can email us at, call US at 866-802-8095 ext. 705 for more information and/or a quote or visit our website to learn more about how we can help.

Cheers to happy employees!

comments powered by Disqus

Employee engagement is linked to profits
Employee Survey Demo
Employee Survey Pricing

Where does your company stand on each of the critical "4Cs" of employee engagement and satisfaction?
  • Commitment
  • Culture
  • Communications
  • Compensation
Find out with a benchmarked and validated 4Cs Employee Survey from Insightlink. Since 2001, one of the most trusted research companies in North America.

How many of each do you have?
  • Committed Loyalists
  • Change Seekers
  • Dissatisfied Compromisers
  • Satisfied Opportunists
Only the Insightlink 4Cs Employee Survey can give you the full picture and let you hear how your employees feel about their experience at your organization.


Insightlink Communications are experts in employee survey design, data collection and analysis. Since 2001 we've helped companies of all sizes measure and improve their employee satisfaction and engagement.

4Cs Blog Home

4Cs Blog Archives

Recent Posts

Enhancing Team Dynamics: Creative Strategies for Boosting Collaboration in Your Workplace

Building a Resilient Organizational Culture through Employee Programs

Why Friendships at Work Matter for Employee Engagement

Elevating Employee Engagement: Financial Training for a Happier, More Productive Workforce

5 Reasons Why LinkedIn Will Revolutionize Recruiting Process

Favorite Links

Employee Survey
Insightlink's Acclaimed 4Cs Employee Survey

Advanced Online Survey Platform for Pros

Quick & Easy Online Surveys

Home of the Gallup Q12

World at Work


Insightlink on SHRM

Engaged Employees Blog

HR ToolKit Guide to Employee Surveys
Good info on how to write surveys.

Insightlink 360
Makes 360 assessment surveys easy.

Online Employee Exit surveys.


Copyright © Insightlink Communications. All rights reserved.