Become a better employer: How to manage unhappy employees post appraisal

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Become A Better Employer

All jobs have some level of stress. But if going to work (or just thinking about going to work) makes your employees feel unhappy, tired, depressed, or even physically ill, that’s more than just general job stress; there might be a reason behind this behaviour, and you must know what it is, but why?

Because it is essential
Employees no longer stay in the same company for a long time if not treated right.

According to a study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • The average employee has been with their current company for four years.
  • That stat drops to 2.4 years if you consider the demographic of millennials, the largest generation in the workforce.
  • Employees aren’t afraid to jump ship.
  • If it’s your high-performing employees jumping ship, you’re in trouble.

Stats on employees are not very encouraging but knowing why it keeps happening at the workplace is quite essential.

While the reason for employee unhappiness would differ from employee to employee and it could be an external or internal factor. The most evident one in the current months (March-June) is the post appraisal one.

Signs of unhappy employees post appraisal

Sooner or later, all companies face the challenge of having an employee who after the appraisal modifies or changes their job performance.

While anyone can have a bad day, when one day turns into two days and two days into a week or more, your employee’s morale can become a serious issue affecting your entire team.

Several indicators allow you to identify if your employee is not happy with the appraisal:

1. Loss of motivation:

When an enthusiastic employee loses all passion for work after appraisal, something is wrong with the way things have worked out.

2. Lower productivity:

A loss of motivation can quickly lead to lower productivity. Sometimes it’s because the employee isn’t inspired to work hard, but it can also be because they’re more easily distracted by whether things are working in their favour or not.

3. Lack of commitment:

When employees don’t receive the appraisal they were expecting, they usually become less committed. They will interact less with the team, stop contributing to group discussions, and generally show less interest.

4. Underperformance:

Another side effect of poor appraisal is job unhappiness. It can jeopardise your employee’s performance, causing them to make mistakes or turn in inferior work.

5. Unprofessional Behaviour:

If someone who is usually professional starts arguing with colleagues and managers, shows up late for work and leaves too early, or displays some other type of unprofessional behaviour, it can be a sign of unhappiness.

Unhappy employees post appraisal – What to do?

The first thing you should do is have a conversation with your employee to find out what is making them feel unhappy at work. Perhaps the employee would benefit from some guidance if it’s personal.

But if it is a professional problem or, say, an appraisal issue, try to find a suitable solution. For example, if an employee is upset about a missed promotion, explain why they didn’t qualify and discuss ways the employee can gain the necessary skills for career advancement.

It’s essential to follow up with the employee days and weeks after the conversation. If they are still not satisfied, you may need to adjust the course and provide additional tools and support.

Remember: This employee has always been a valued member of your team until now. Helping them through this challenging time benefits the employee, team, and the company.

Let’s talk about change

The way employees behave, how they treat each other, how they respond, and how they support each other define the work experience for everyone.

“Changing to be a better person – the world is littered with those failures.”

But encouraging them to change because there’s something they believe in, some purpose they have, where employees are willing to risk almost everything because it’s so important to them – THAT’S THE REASON TO CHANGE.

It is not always possible to understand what goes in an employee’s mind, and, as an HR/Manager, if you are facing trouble to comprehend what your employees want, then consider the Maslow’s pyramid for answers.

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Become a better employer: How to manage unhappy employees post appraisal 1

What can HRs do to manage post appraisal blues?

It’s no secret that happy employees are better employees, and, in the end, this translates into better business results.

A must-remember thing for HRs is that experiencing positive feelings in the work environment leads to an increase in creativity, resilience, optimism, motivation, and, ultimately, to a rise in employees’ level of commitment.

But what to do about the post appraisal blues? the easy answer is a good salary and stability in the short term. That’s what the appraisals are for but in the medium and long term, these two critical concepts for every employee become unreliable in drawing employee happiness.

According to various theories, when the post appraisal blues arise in the workplace, the primary points that strongly mark the happiness of an employee are based on the following:

Manage post appraisal blues – Tips for HRs

  • Being empathetic
  • HRs must know how to put themselves in the shoes of others to understand their feelings.

  • Focus on the solution
  • There’s no end to complaints. The important thing is to find the solution to the problems.

  • Being communicative
  • They must encourage transcendental conversations to achieve a certain emotional closeness.

  • Being actionable
  • HRs must chalk out a specific action plan to manage the employees who aren’t satisfied with the appraisal.

  • Creating the right environment
  • Companies must focus on creating a psychologically safe environment where employees feel that they can express themselves without feeling threatened.

What can Managers do for unhappy employees post appraisal?

When appraisals are out, managers happen to find a mixed vibe in the air – those who have fared well are over the moon, while those who did not, are unhappy and disappointed. 

The essential is to not let such contrasting moods affect your organisation. Here are few monetary ways Managers can implement for unhappy employees post appraisal:

Offer Incentive for the Rescue!
A generous incentive or effective perks will surely kick the disappointment out of the room!

Open Space & Growth Opportunities!
Giving new opportunities and space to vocalise their thoughts, concerns, and feedback will bring out the best in them.

Remove the Redundant Rule!
Almost every organisation has one, yours must have one too. Talk to your employees and find out which rule or policy they find the most counterproductive.

Consider Unexpectedness!
Celebrate “them” with impromptu team lunches or dinners, give them half a day off, or allow them to work from home. However, rewards, vouchers, and making them feel that their efforts are being noticed goes a long way too.

Although HR and managers would do anything for their employees to make the workplace more productive, not taking care of their happiness is the same as wanting a peaceful work environment without investing on mental health.

Therefore, we have few non-monetary ideas that will help you create an environment that is based on the happiness of employees.

Most effective non-monetary ways to address post-appraisal blues

Idea one: Trust & Respect

Two things are present in an organisation where employees are happy:

Leaders often say,
“We trust our employees.”
“We empower our employees.”

And when an employee asks for a promotion, most cliché replies they’ve heard is, “Sure in next 6 months” (and repeating the same thing again in 6 months), or managers simply say, “nope, end of discussion.”

So, all the words are correct for the employee, but when it comes to appraisal, why do we have to make it look like a challenge?

So, what can managers do to have a high level of trust at the workplace?

The best example on Trust & Respect and the name of an organisation that comes to mind is Four Seasons –

They have properties all around the world. They have the connection, craftsmanship and character, and they have told their employees, “Do whatever you think is right when servicing the customer.”

To hand trust employees to do whatever they think is right makes the employee feel great. That’s one of the reasons why Four Seasons has the best service in the world.

Idea two: Fairness

The thing that erodes trust in an organisation faster than the speed of light is when employees feel they’re not being treated fairly.

Employees want to be treated the same regardless of their position, experience, job profile or tenure compared to anyone else.

The best example of fairness in the workplace is Salesforce.

“Salesforce found that male and female employees in the same job with the same level of proficiency were making different amounts of money. So, they calculated the difference and invested around $3 billion to balance things out.”

They balanced the imbalance by fairly treating every employee.

Idea three: Continuous Listening

To be a listener who connects with all types of people, we must unlearn a few things.

We’ve all taught about active listening,
eye contact, an intense stare, and a compassionate look – THAT’S NOT LISTENING.
Repeating what the person has said – THAT’S NOT LISTENING.

Being humble and always hunting and searching for the best idea possible –

And employees can feel whether you’re doing it or not.

They want to know when they talk to you and share an idea. Did you consider it when you made a decision?

The one thing that everybody appreciates and wants when they’re speaking is to know that what they say matters so much that you might change your mind.

Otherwise, what’s the point of the conversation?

Post-appraisal employee counselling

In order to appear as an efficient counsellor, managers must know how to host the qualities of being empathic, self-aware, and respectful in the workplace.

Post appraisal counselling involves the understanding of human psyche, i.e., employee’s thinking, values, motivators, traits, etc. and it goes way beyond “telling” them the do’s and don’ts.

  1. Creating a right environment:

As we’ve mentioned above, the first step is to create an environment where employees can feel the trust and confidence. Counselling sessions are a two-way street and managers must keep it that way.

  1. Prepare for the session:

The best thing to do when preparing for the session is to know not only the performance of the employees but their personal background as well. This will establish conversation that touches upon all aspects.

  1. Finding the cause:

Managers must remember that blaming never works and it shouldn’t be a part of conversation instead they should focus on what changes their behaviour and how managers can fix it.

  1. Follow up:

Once you’ve completed the counselling, make sure you do follow ups with employees and know whether there’s any improvement or they’re still feeling the same way.


It doesn’t end there; meagre changes in CTC, lack of clarity in what employees want in terms of promotion (whether they expect title or increment), and not receiving a hike as much as they expected are all the factors that affect the well-being of an employee and make them unhappy.

The office should be one of the places where employees find happiness and feel appreciated. Unhappy employees post appraisal turn into poor performers who have no will to work and be better.

And so, it is necessary for you to take initiative where they prosper in an environment not only professionally but personally too. We must not lose sight of the fact that many things in the company depend on their performance, and with unhappy employees, there is no productivity.

Remember, even your best performers can be unhappy after appraisal. Make sure you don’t lose them.  

Employing performance management software, such as HROne, that not only measures the progress of the employees but also identifies their actional behaviour that will level up everyone for success.

Make your Performance Management fun and easy!

Learn how HROne Performance Management software can help you automate Performance Management & stay 100% compliant!

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Shahrukh Khan

Shah Rukh is a content creator at HROne. He studied financial markets at BSE Ltd. and developed a taste for creative writing. He has a uniquely witty tone that shines through his collection of work. He is inspired by young minds and wise words.

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