How Employees Respond to Job Dissatisfaction

Job dissatisfaction affects all employees in different degrees at different times. Like stress, how we choose to respond is more important than trying to deny or painfully suffer the consequences.

Many years ago, I learned about the EVLN Model in an organisational textbook. The simplicity of the model has always stuck with me, and often when in a teaching or facilitation moment, I share the model as an awareness tool for where dissatisfied staff may find themselves.

Employees respond to job dissatisfaction in one of the four ways:


Exit refers to leaving the organisation, transferring to another work unit, or at least trying to exit the dissatisfying situation. Exit usually follows specific “shock events,” such as when your boss treats you unfairly. These shock events generate strong emotions that energize employees to think about and search for an alternative employment.

Voice refers to any attempt to change, rather than escape from, the dissatisfying situation. Voice can be constructive response, such as recommending ways for management to improve the situation, or it can be more confrontational, such as by filing formal grievances. In the extreme, some employees might engage in counterproductive behaviours to get attention and force changes in the organization.

Loyalty has been described in different ways, but the most widely held view is that “loyalists” are employees who respond to dissatisfaction by patiently waiting – some say they “suffer in silence” – for the problem to work itself out or get resolved by others.

Neglect includes reducing work efforts, paying less attention to quality, and increasing absenteeism and lateness. It is generally considered a passive activity that has negative consequences for the organization. (1)

Which of these four do employees use most?

That depends on many factors. I would suggest they depend on situational factors (‘macro’- environmental, ‘micro’ – company) and personal factors. These may include

1. Employment prospects

2. Culture in the organisation

3. Relationship with manager

4. One’s personality

5. Consequence of positive or negative behaviours

Job dissatisfaction does not always result in poor job output (neglect). It is quite possible for employees to be productive whilst they complain or provide positive feedback (voice); or look for another job (exit) or patiently wait for the problem to fix itself (loyal). (2)

Organisations should focus on:

1. Developing managers (“people don’t quit companies, people quit management”)

2. Selecting the right staff (“many claim that 66% of employees are in jobs that they not suited to” – job fit)

3. Engagement with staff (“you win the team over one at a time” – go one on one)

Employees should focus on:

1. Choosing career paths carefully (career counselling – before further studies or when transitioning)

2. Their strengths (Markus Buckingham is a great author on the subject of playing to your strengths, and doing what is right for you)

3. Engage with people they trust (the more one speaks about their situation, the more the self aware and likely they are to find alternatives and solutions. If you don’t have a good relationship with your boss, work is going to be a drag.)

Where are you on the EVLN model? How shall you continue?


1. Wikipedia (see EVLN model)

2. McShane – Von Glinow. Organisational Behavior (2004)

For more information, click on one of the following links:

1. Job fit –

2. Management Development –

3. Career Counselling –

Anil Salick is the founder of Synergistic Outcomes. ( ) He can be contacted via email on anil.salick@

Anil Salick

Anil Salick

Strategist, Facilitator, Coach, Writer. Shares about inspiration, leadership, critical thinking, fun, sports and current events.