Grumpy Staying: What Is It, Signs, How To Address It 

grumpy staying.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclaimer for more info.

The amount of terms out there to describe how someone works continues to grow! 

You’ve probably already heard of quiet quitting, it was blasted all over the media a few months back. While I’ve not personally written about quiet quitting, you’ll find no shortage of content around that theme.

And now there is another term growing in popularity – grumpy staying. It certainly made me chuckle a bit hearing that phrase before, but it’s also an interesting topic to explore. 

So what is grumpy staying? What causes it? And what are the signs an employee might be grumpy staying? Let’s explore it a bit further. 

What is Grumpy Staying?

Grumpy staying simply refers to an individual worker who remains at their current employer and position while openly being frustrated, less productive, and visibly agitated with their work environment. Yet avoids improving their situation or attitude.

This person often will be more irritable and negative towards specific tasks, managers, co-workers, or just the current job situation they are in currently. 

Usually these employees who are “grumpy staying” do not quit or make a job change to better their job satisfaction. This might be caused by the curtain state of the market or just the personality type of the individual. 

Causes of Grumpy Staying

So what causes an employee to end up in a state of grumpy staying? Typically it will fall into one of the below or be a combination of professional frustrations. But these are the most common reasons. 

1. Job dissatisfaction

Although job satisfaction rose in the last few years, not everyone will be happy in their current job. That can happen due to micromanaging, mundane work, no growth opportunities, lack of recognition of good work, etc. 

2. Toxic work environment

Does your work environment exhibit bad traits like harassment, constant conflict, bullying, or a bad culture? Maybe it’s something you don’t witness yourself personally, but other employees might. A toxic workplace is one of the top reasons for grumpy staying. 

3. No work/life balance

In today’s environment, work/life balance is more important than ever. And if work is constantly interrupting personal time or vacations – you may create some grumpy staying. Feeling overworked with limited flexibility can cause resentment.  

4. Management and leadership

Bad management and leadership should be no surprise as a cause of grumpy staying. If employees don’t trust their managers or leaders, feel micromanaged, or treated poorly – it will undoubtedly cause employees frustration. 

5. Lack of professional development

Many employees want to grow in their job and improve their careers. Joining a company and taking on a specific role will hopefully help lead to those things. So if an employee feels trapped, has no opportunities to grow, or has no clear path from their manager – it can lead to grumpy staying. 

6. Personal issues

Sometimes the cause of grumpy staying is not because of work specifically. There could be personal life catalysts that trigger negative attitudes or a shift in the employees’ work. Personal issues could stem from health reasons, financial stress, or other family conflicts. 

7. Uncertain job market

Potentially the employee wants to leave their current job and employer. But they are trapped due to the state of the economy and job market. When there are constant headlines of layoffs or hiring cooldowns, an employee might be grumpy staying until things improve. 

Warning Signs of Grumpy Staying 

Sometimes employees that are “grumpy staying” can sneak up on managers and colleagues. It can be a gradual build up that sometimes is unnoticed until it’s a full-blown problem. However, there are quite a few warning signs that can help you get ahead and find a positive resolution. 

1. Chronic complaining

If an employee it’s constantly complaining about their job, tasks, co-workers, and the work environment but never takes steps to improve what bothers them – you probably have someone falling into grumpy staying. 

2. Negative attitude

Not everyone has the ideal job and everyone will have a day where they are in a bad mood. It’s a normal part of working. If an employee always has a negative attitude and thinks the worst about everything, then it’s a clear warning sign. This constant bad attitude can impact other employees and team morale. 

3. Becoming highly disengaged

Employees in the grumpy staying stage will typically have little engagement with their work, professional growth, or their colleagues. You’ll notice productivity severely lacking. 

4. Resisting company change

The workplace evolves and changes may happen. You need a team of adaptable people who are open to altering processes and contributing ideas. Someone that is grump staying will resist change at all costs and can even be combative about them. 

5. Always in conflict

Beyond resisting change, a person that is grumpy staying often is in constant conflict with others. That could be co-workers and managers alike. A strong signal that this employee is going through something is if they are always seemingly picking fights with the team. 

6. Appearing to be absent frequently

Is this employee not responding to work requests, meetings, or taking off randomly and often? This doesn’t always mean someone is unhappy with work, but it can be a red flag to watch for and catch early. 

7. Showing no interest in career development

Not everyone wants to climb the corporate ladder and might be content in a specific job role. But if they show this along with any other signs of grumpy staying from above, then it’s a good idea to find out why and what you can do to help.

How to Address Grumpy Staying

Grumpy staying can be a problem for organizations because it impacts multiple areas of the business.

It can decrease team morale, hurt productivity, create a toxic culture, lower employee engagement, impact customers, and stall innovation. And that all leads to a business in revenue decline!

So how can you best address someone showing the signs of grumpy staying? The answer is quite simple and is any playbook leadership should follow to make a great place to work.

  • Promote open communication
  • Find the root cause and take action
  • Celebrate individual achievements
  • Promote employee perks
  • Provide support and resources
  • Care about work/life balance
  • Encourage flexible work schedules
  • Make commitment to solving workplace issues
  • Create a culture of transparency

Hopefully you weren’t looking for some secret sauce here.

Most of what cause job dissatisfaction and bad attitudes all relates to the specific work and/or the company itself.

But there can be some miserable people that nothing will help fix their negative energy as well. And that’s when you may need to make a decision to let this person go.

A Note About Grumpy Staying and Remote Work

Typically, if an employee is grumpy staying it will be more obvious when they are working in-person. You’ll see those mood shifts, conflicts, and lack of interest in their work much easier. 

But grumpy staying can also happen among remote employees. 

And as much as remote work can make employees happier, it isn’t a bandaid fix to the other causes of why an employee may be showing signs of grumpy staying. Basically what I’m saying is just because you offer people a choice to work outside the office, doesn’t mean an individuals work satisfaction will be magically improved.

Catching the signs in remote work environments may take a bit longer. But typically you’ll notice similar signs but in virtual meetings, lack of response to emails or Slack messages, low productivity, etc. 

As a manager, you’ll need to be more proactive to catch grumpy staying remote employees. 

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, another term to add to your repertoire when it comes to work. 

You might roll your eyes reading names like “quite quitting” and “grumpy staying”. But they are real challenges in the workplace, regardless of the name that is coined to describe it. 

It’s important to understand these issues – whether you are in the office or remote – to help build a better work environment for everyone. 


Curated Content Directly To Your Inbox.

We'll send you the latest content, career tips, and remote jobs every Tuesday.

Start Over

Share this post 👇

About Todd Kunsman

Todd is the founder of Remote Work Junkie and has been featured in numerous publications like Business Insider, HuffPost, CNBC, and more. He’s been a remote work advocate for close to a decade and has been working remotely full-time for 5+ years. He’s also a marketing, personal finance, and music nerd 🤓

Related Articles
What interests you about this position interview question.
By Todd Kunsman • March 04, 2024

What Interests You About This Position? (Answer Examples)

“What interests you about this position?”  This is one common question you'll most likely have come up during your interview

What are you passionate about job interview question.
By Todd Kunsman • February 07, 2024

What Are You Passionate About? (Answer Examples)

“What are you passionate about?” Yet another seemingly simple, but general interview question you might be asked. However, your answer

Person bored because meeting could have been an email.
By Todd Kunsman • January 16, 2024

7 Signs This Meeting Could Have Been an Email

While meetings (in-person or virtual) can be great for getting projects done and team camaraderie, they also can be a

As Seen On