You are here: Home Resources Samples Addressing Overt and Covert Manifestations of Employee Dissatisfaction at Work

Addressing Overt and Covert Manifestations of Employee Dissatisfaction at Work

Employee productivity, commitment and retention issues are becoming the most critical workplace management challenges. These challenges have been exacerbated by corporate restructuring efforts, employee loyalty concerns and extreme competition for crucial talents. For many organizations, unprecedented employee departures can have adverse effects on the execution of business objectives and this may eventually lead to irreversible decline in productivity. This phenomenon is especially real in light of current economic uncertainties as well as the resulting corporate downsizings that followloss of critical employees (Caplan and Teese, 1997. The manifestations of employee dissatisfaction at thework place can be eitherconvert or overt. Covert manifestations are sometimes hard to notice since they are much concealed and mostly involve individual employees. On the other hand, overt manifestations are rather open andthey usually involve collaborations among several or all employees within thework place.


Most business analysts concur that dissatisfied employees can seriously affect the attitudes of other workers regardless of whether such dissatisfied workers leave or continue to stay within the organization. Negative feelings greatly affect the quality and quantity of work, cooperation with supervisors, as well as the firm’s ability to attract the desired applicants. Covert manifestations are usually expressed in terms of diminished productivity on the part of the affected individuals. This may also be expressed in terms of sudden cases of absenteeism and tardiness that affects the quality and quantity of work previously exhibited by the affected workers. The main cause of this type of job dissatisfaction result when dedicated employees lose satisfaction from the kind of services that they are offering to the organization. This loss of satisfaction may either result from lack of equal appraisal to their efforts or poor job coordination due to ineffectiveness on the part of the mangers. Research indicates that the more dissatisfied an employee becomes at work, the more likely they are to engage in other impulsive behaviors such as disengaging, quitting, or retaliation. This is contrary to the expected adaptive behaviors such as adjustment of expectations and other problem solving skills. Additionally, a relatively low number of individual differences have been found to have palpable impact on reactions towards dissatisfaction at work. Among the most prevalent of these characters are individual work ethics, conflict management styles, and proactive personality (O’Malley 2000).

Job satisfaction matters a lot to managers, clients, and most of all, to all employees. This explains why over expressions of work place dissatisfactions are usually exhibited when employees fail to derive the motivation that they need as they offer their services to the organization. Dissatisfaction at the work-place is very unpleasant and most employees are conditioned to respond to any unpleasant conditions by exploring other viable mechanisms that may reduce such kinds of dissatisfactions. Therefore, when employees engage in go-slows or plan major strikes at the work place, it is usually as a result of each and every individual undergoing some sort of dissatisfaction and the situation escalates when all employees realize that they share similar sentiments. This explains why managers are advised to seek dispute resolution mechanisms that do not seek to punish those who may appear to punish employees who appear to have incited their peers to effect the downing of their tools. It is prudent for managers to seek to address the common problems that are shared by the employees since job dissatisfaction is a process that may time before it escalates into open expressions by the employees Griffeth, Hom, & Gaertner, 2000). The drive towards adaptation by the employees is as natural and inevitable as it is expected in any other kind of environment.

While overt expressions of job dissatisfaction are easier to address as they affect a wider section of employees, covert expressions are not only difficult to notice, but are also hard to address. This is because they require the human resource managers to participate in active interaction with each employee at an individual level. Most experienced human resource managers are aware that covert expressions of dissatisfaction are characterized by sudden intents to quit, lateness, as well as other voluntary absenteeism.

In order to effectively motivate and hence retain employees, a competent human resource manager must be able to deal with every employee at a time. This must involve asking of questions, listening and engaging the employee on a one-on-one basis. Through such engagement, a good manager will be able to assist their talented employees in finding satisfaction in their work. Such kind of satisfaction is essential in influencing an employee’s decision to stay or quit the organization (Kreisman, 2002). The process of understanding and communication between a manger and an employee can further be accelerated through the use of various training tools and processes such as the Insights Discovery System. Essentially, the manager’s role should be that of a ‘catalyst’ and this means that the function of the manager is to speed up the interaction between two substances and in the process create the expected end-product. In a business environment, the manger-s role is to create performance in each employee by creating an enabling platform between the employee’s talents and the organization’s goals and objectives. By so doing, the manager gives the employees a sense of belonging to the organization and the workers are able to share in the company’s goals. As the employees strive to achieve the set goals and objectives, they derive the required satisfaction that eventually increase their productivity and hence grows the organization (Deal and Kennedy, 1999). As the managers integrates the employees in the profit making goals of the organization, they minimize the occurrence of job dissatisfaction as all employees become pre-occupied with the idea of making sure that the company meets its targets.

In as much as the employees share in the company’s goals of meeting these targets, they are likely to assert much of their efforts in meeting those goals and hence they expect equal rewards when the objectives have been met. This means that the mangers have a responsibility to ensure that employee appraisal goes hand in hand with any profits that the company makes either in the short term or long term basis. Failure to reward employees for their hard work is one of the best catalysts for the development of job dissatisfaction. This is because the employees are likely to feel unappreciated and this may lower their morale by a great level. When such sentiments are shared by all employees, overt expressions of job dissatisfaction are likely to be displayed in terms of un-anticipated strikes for higher perks or work go-slows. Employees who are not willing to participate in such actions may result to seek other alternatives such as quitting the organization and looking for jobs in companies where their efforts are likely to be appreciated (Collins, 2000).

Summarily, research suggests that successful organizations are those that are able to adapt their organizational behavior to the realities of their work environment where success and longevity depends upon creativity, innovation, and flexibility. Furthermore, the dynamics of the work environment must be designed to reflect the diverse work population that is made up of employees whose beliefs, motivations, and values vary both from the past and from one another. The mangers must be skilled in assessing employees’ satisfaction to their jobs from time to time and addressing any instances that may appear to affect such satisfaction. On the other hand, the organization must develop policies that reward their employee for their contribution to the growth of the company through regular appraisals and job promotions.


Capplan, Gayle and Teese, Mary. (1997). Survivors—How to keep your best people on board after downsizing. Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black Publishing.

Collins, Michelle LeDuff. (2000). The thin book of 360 feedback—A manager’s guide. New York: Thin Book Publishing Company.

Deal, Terrence and Kennedy, Allen. (1999). The new corporate cultures—Revitalizing the workplace after downsizing, mergers, and reengineering. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books

Griffeth, R. W., Hom, P., & Gaertner, S. (2000). A meta-analysis of employee turnover: Update and extension of Hom & Griffeth (1995). Toronto: Academy of Management

Kreisman, Barbara J. (2002). Identification of the drivers of employee dissatisfaction and turnover. Austin, TX: University of Texas.

O’Malley, Michael N. (2000). Creating Commitment—How to attract and retain talented employees by building relationships that last. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc


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You are here: Home Resources Samples Addressing Overt and Covert Manifestations of Employee Dissatisfaction at Work