A bad-tempered boss, bullies, deceitful colleagues, nagging or whiny co-workers … does any of this sound familiar? Negativity in the workplace can take a toll on employees, productivity, and your company’s bottom line.
Often times other factors like workload, concerns about company leadership, perception of favoritism by management, anxiety about the future, workplace complacency and insufficient recognition can escalate an already taxing situation into something worse. Don’t you feel drained just thinking about it? Exactly.
A downward spiral starts when one person’s negative attitude influences another. Employees’ negative thoughts, actions, and behaviors bring others down. As a result, businesses often report a decrease in productivity, heightened absenteeism, and more employee complaints … profits decrease and turnover abounds, creating an unstable work environment.
Fortunately, there are ways to combat the problem.
- Communicate more. More often than not, negativity stems from lack of communication. Frequent communication halts gossip and bridges the gap between employees and their supervisors and from employee to employee. Your HR manager should act as a mediator in difficult or tricky situations. Proper communication is honest, concise and done regularly.
- Listen to your team. Listening doesn’t have to mean “fixing.” Often, employees just need someone to hear them and it’s leadership’s responsibility to do so. Acknowledge that you understand the employee’s concerns, but don’t be afraid to challenge pessimistic thoughts. Negativity often results from things that are out of your control such as downsizing, understaffing and budget cuts.
- Lead by example. Leaders must model the behavior that they want to see and that starts by not displaying negativity yourself. Leading by example shows the team how to communicate and interact with one another. This type of consistency will hold all to the same expectation and shine a light on frequent offenders.
- Recognize positive behaviors. Employees should feel empowered in their jobs and be rewarded on a regular basis. Managers can be quick to point out mistakes or undesirable behaviors, but remember recognition of a job well done can make all the difference in an employee’s day and their attitude.
- Seek solutions. Often, negative attitudes stem from an employee being dissatisfied with an outcome or process they feel powerless to control. Address this by fixing the issue without seeking to blame, when possible. Employees closest to the issue should be involved, input should be solicited, and solutions implemented. Not all solutions are effective right away, so periodic assessment is needed.
Soliciting input from employees, listening to their concerns, having an open flow of communication, curtailing gossip and referring employees to human resources for serious issues can help lessen negative attitudes and produces a more productive and happy workplace for all.