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Employee response to job dissatisfaction

By Tallys Moreth


Several theories have related salary to happiness, but today benefits and remuneration are no longer decisive in choosing a new job.

Of course, we are always looking for financial growth, but this is no longer the most important factor for the employee to feel happy and fulfilled in his or her work. It is clear that the motivated employee who is recognized by their leader will feel much happier and accomplished. Satisfaction generates a positive status, resulting in better productivity and desired work behaviour. The company, through its leaders, has the great challenge of integrating the teams of employees, extracting the best from each one of them. Leaders discover strengths and help employees feel more fulfilled in their roles; themselves feeling happy and rewarded.

In the context of work psychology, job satisfaction is the general attitude of the person toward his or her job and depends on several psychosocial factors. There are also other concepts that refer to job satisfaction as a synonym of motivation or as a positive emotional state. Some consider satisfaction and dissatisfaction as distinct, opposing phenomena. It is important to understand that influences on satisfaction include environment, hygiene, workplace safety, management style and culture, employee involvement, empowerment and autonomous work of groups, among many others. According to Steven McShane, “Satisfied employees have a favourable evaluation of their jobs, based on their observation and emotional experience.” Satisfaction itself is a subjective concept related to work; for that reason, it is normal to see satisfied and unsatisfied professionals working in the same company, department or even room.

When we discuss job satisfaction it is necessary to understand the acronym EVLN – Exit, Voice, Loyalty, Neglect. The EVLN model identifies four different ways that employees respond to dissatisfaction:

  • Exit. It includes leaving the organization, transferring to another work department (or unit) or trying to get away from the dissatisfying situation. It is important to understand that specific shock events quickly energize employees to think about leaving the organization and engaging themselves in exit behaviour.
  • Voice. This can be a constructive response. For instance, recommending ways to improve the conflict situation, or even filling formal grievances or making a coalition in order to oppose a decision.
  • Loyalty. Normally, loyal professionals are employees who respond to dissatisfaction by patiently waiting. The loyal associates can suffer in silence for days, months or even years without clear problem resolution.
  • Neglect. Neglect means lacking in diligence. It includes reducing work effort, paying less attention to service quality, increases in absenteeism and lateness. This type of behaviour has negative consequences for the organization.


If continued, the negative impacts related to these work behaviours are enormous: decline in productivity, which directly affects the financial performance of an organization; less innovation, which paralyzes the future of a company and puts its own survival at risk; high turnover, employees simply go through numerous organizations, never staying in one long enough to contribute anything of value; high absenteeism, employees find various ways to postpone their jobs; and impacts on family life, employees accumulate stress throughout the work day and bring this tension home.

It is important to understand that employees can use one, two or more EVLN alternatives, it depends on the person and situation. Individual values, beliefs, culture and past experience are relevant in order to define which type of behaviours employees are more susceptible to engage.

Tallys Moreth is a human resources specialist with a focus in strategic management.



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