"For a long time, it seemed that all companies cared about was job satisfaction," says Jing Zhou at Rice University in Houston, Texas. She and colleague Jennifer George wondered whether dissatisfaction was really such a bad thing. To find out, they surveyed 149 employees at a drilling equipment company. Without revealing their ultimate purpose, they asked workers dozens of questions about their work lives, including some to assess their level of job satisfaction. They also interviewed the workers' supervisors and asked them questions about which workers regularly came up with "creative solutions", "fresh approaches" or "new ideas".
Surprisingly, people who were dissatisfied and willing to pipe up were found to be the most creative (Academy of Management Journal, vol 44, p 682). "It was very striking," says Zhou, "and counter-intuitive."
Zhou and George reckon that employees who become disgruntled have four options. They can jump ship, taking any ideas they might have had on how to improve things with them, or they can stick around and whine, reaffirm their allegiance, or shirk their work. Neither the loyalists nor the shirkers have any impetus to work for change. The whiners, by contrast, spend a significant part of their day ruminating on how things can be improved. That is a creative force we can no longer afford to ignore, Zhou argues.
She points out that disgruntled employees are often discouraged from voicing complaints, so their valuable insights are stifled. The study found that the creativity of whiners could only be harnessed with the help of supportive colleagues who listened to and channelled their discontent. "Top managers really need to rethink how to do things," she says.
El artículo completo en “Embrace your inner grouch”.