Workplace negativity can adversely affect a company in many ways. It can become a major issue when it starts to affect other employees and a toxic workplace environment is not fun or healthy for employees or for the good of the company.
It can come in many different forms as well; it can evolve from gossiping or rumors, lack of trust or even personal hostilities between two employees. If workplace negativity is not managed properly it can affect employee engagement, productivity and retention. In addition, it can really hurt the company’s reputation and success.
It’s also crucial for companies to use the right tools and technology in order to promote open and healthy communication and encourage employee engagement in order to reduce the chances of workplace negativity arising in the future. A Forbes article wisely notes that “The days of gathering around the water cooler have moved online, adding another challenge as people can hide behind screens and think less about the impact of their words and actions”. In order to overcome negativity in the workplace, we have put together a list of 10 simple tips to help you battle negativity in the office and avoid it in the future.
Ensure That Employees Have A Safe Place To Vent Problems Or Concerns
Whether you set up an anonymous suggestion box or have regular one-on-one meetings to check in on employees, it’s essential that companies provide employees with a safe place and a person to trust to vocalize their issues or concerns to. Susan Heathfield, an HR expert, recommends that companies “make opportunities available for people to express their opinion about workplace policies and procedures. Recognize the impact of changes in such areas as work hours, pay, benefits, assignment of overtime hours, comp pay, dress codes, office location, job requirements, and working conditions”.
When employees feel that their opinions matter and their voices are heard, companies reduce the chances of employees feeling negatively about their jobs and therefore increase employee satisfaction.
Create An Open-Door Policy For Communication
If your company doesn’t have an open-door policy for communication in place already, then you should implement it ASAP. Employees who feel that they cannot come to management and freely communicate with upper management tend to be disgruntled and unhappy.
It’s not only about being available when an employee needs to talk, but it’s about talking in a healthy and proactive manner. Don’t be reactive to an employee’s feelings or negative behavior. Instead, proactively communicate to find a common ground and understanding. Keena, a group of HR professionals, advises that upper management should “set an example by keeping your communications positive. Don’t give employees either a reason or an excuse to act negatively. Try countering negative statements by pointing out a positive”.
Implementing effective tools and technology, like an employee communication app, can help companies efficiently manage their employees’ communication in a positive and healthy way. For example, Connecteam’s employee communication app has several features that promote these values.
- An in-app chat that allows management to regulate and encourage healthy and open communication. If there is a comment that is inappropropriate or negative, you can remove the comment as to not let it affect other employees.
- Send GIFS, photos, videos and other types of content in one-on-one messages or to a group of people to make communication fun and exciting.
- Start a live poll to make employees feel that they have a direct impact on choices that are made in the organization. For example, start a live poll on where to do your next company fun day.
- A monthly survey on whether employees feel they have open communication with upper management or how satisfied they are with the company culture.
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Confront Employees Privately If You Notice Negativity Affecting Other Employees
If you notice there are specific employees who are directly impacting the workplace environment and other employees in an adverse or negative way, it’s imperative that you set up a meeting with them in private to address the situation. A Forbes article mentions that instead of waiting to deal with the situation, you must deal with it immediately because “you can’t create change by staying silent. Have conversations that address any negative behaviors you witness”. Don’t make a public spectacle of it in the office, as that will only contribute to negativity and hostility, it’s better to speak to the employee person-to-person and try to understand what is motivating them to behave in such a way.
Make Sure Employees Are Aware Of Your Company’s Policies On Code Of Conduct
An article by the Ethics & Compliance Initiative reports that “A well-written code of conduct clarifies an organization’s mission, values and principles, linking them with standards of professional conduct. The code articulates the values the organization wishes to foster in leaders and employees and, in doing so, defines desired behavior”. If your company does not have a clear code of conduct that has been distributed to all employees then you are already putting yourself at risk for negativity and at a huge disadvantage.
Make sure employees are up-to-date and aware of all policies in regards to your company’s code of conduct and make sure they adhere and uphold these professional standards as they directly reflect your company’s culture and ethics.
Get Employee Feedback On Things That Can Be Improved
Employees that feel their voices are heard are more likely to be satisfied with their job and their company. By periodically asking employees for feedback on things in the office that can be improved on, companies can make active changes that will positively impact the workplace environment. Some of the ways you can receive feedback from your employees include employee surveys, live polls and a suggestion box. The Harvard Business Review also suggests that upper management make collecting feedback a regular monthly or quarterly task, not just during employee reviews.
For example, Keena suggests management “get direct feedback from employees on how to make the workplace more enjoyable, less tense, etc”. By receiving feedback from employees, management is able to gain valuable insights into how to make the company better for everyone! It’s not just about collecting feedback though, you must act on it otherwise you’ve just wasted loads of everybody’s time. This is again where using the right tools and technology can simplify the process in which you collect employee feedback. With Connecteam, you can create fully customizable surveys, live polls and suggestion boxes to gain useful feedback from your employees.
Ensure Management And Team Leads Are Aligned On How To Approach Negativity In The Workplace
If not everyone is up to speed on how to handle negativity at work, then your company is at a loss. In order to ensure everyone is on the same page, clear policies on how to handle negativity or adversity in the office should be made clear and always available for reference if needed. For example, you could provide upper management and team lead members with a course on how best to handle negativity or how to boost employee morale and what they can do to avoid it arising in the first place.
Promote And Encourage Employee Camaraderie With Team Building Activities And Company Fun Days
Team building activities and company fun days can help reduce negativity and squash it before it becomes a problem. Aaron Skonnard, CEO of Pluralsight, comments that “whether it’s catering weekly lunches where people can socialize on the company’s dime, holding holiday parties during the workday that go all out (think pumpkin-carving contests and Thanksgiving potlucks), or monthly happy hours that begin at 4pm, integrating some opportunities for play within work can foster healthy relationships and build trust among colleagues”. One of the main reasons for workplace negativity is a lack of trust among employees.
Company outings and team building exercises are great ways to get your employees to find a common ground, work together and build trust, thereby increasing your chances of overcoming negativity in the workplace! Below is an infographic displaying some of the ways famous companies like Coca Cola and Facebook go out of their way to create a one-of-a-kind fun day for their employees!
Make Sure To Give Employee Recognition
Management should not only give employees critical feedback, but should also commend and recognize employees that go above and beyond. Positive employee recognition has a huge impact on a positive work environment. Susan Heathfield notes “the purpose of feedback is to reinforce what you’d like to see the employee do more of—the purpose of employee recognition is the same. In fact, employee recognition is one of the most powerful forms of feedback that you can provide”.
For example, to reinforce workplace positivity, companies should recognize and applaud an employee’s positive attitude and their ability to handle stressful situations effectively with emotional maturity.
Promote A Positive, Happy And Healthy Workplace
Management should focus on creating a workplace environment that is positive and happy. By ensuring employees are happy you reduce employee turnover, reduce negativity in the workplace, increase productivity, boost employee morale and increase employee engagement. Really, the benefits of a positive workplace are endless! It also benefits the company as well. The Harvard Business Review reports that “a positive workplace is more successful over time because it increases positive emotions and well-being. This, in turn, improves people’s relationships with each other and amplifies their abilities and their creativity. It buffers against negative experiences such as stress, thus improving employees’ ability to bounce back from challenges and difficulties while bolstering their health”. Bottom line is that not only do your employees benefit from a positive work environment, but your company definitely benefits from it as well!
Business News Daily reports that “if you’re focusing on creating a positive work environment, make sure that your company’s culture includes work-life balance (such as by allowing remote work), unobstructed flow of ideas among employees and management with no fear of harsh criticism, and reasonable policies for vacation and paid time off”.
Some of the ways you can establish a more comfortable work environment include:
- Make sure employees have reasonable space and office accommodations.
- Allowing employees flex days.
- Buy some greenery and plants for the office.
- Create a separate “relax and recharge room” for employees to take a break.
- Provide employees with a company-funded lunch once a month.
Make Sure To Hire Employees Who Value Positivity & Let Go Of Those Who Are Causing Issues
When hiring employees, companies should hire candidates that are in line with the company culture. For example, Aaron Skonnard, CEO of Pluralsight, notes that they “look for those [employees] who can engage in healthy conflict yet remain optimistic, believing that they can solve problems. We look for candidates who show a strong belief in the good of other people and their ability to succeed”. By finding candidates that will only benefit the company’s workplace environment you avoid negativity in the workplace before it even happens!
On the other hand, it’s also crucial to let go of employees who are directly negatively impacting the office environment and other employees. If you are unable to find common ground between you and a “problem employee” and their behavior is not changing, then it may be time to let the employee go. These negative employees affect other employees which in turn can affect the reputation and success of the company. Skonnard notes again that upper management and team leads “must then hold that person accountable, and if change is not forthcoming, be willing to let go of that person to preserve the culture for everyone else”. At the end of the day, it’s essential that bad seeds don’t hurt the success of the company and that company culture and values stay solid for other employees.
Now That You Know How To Handle Negativity In The Workplace…
Now it’s time to implement these 10 simple tips to squash negativity in the workplace and avoid workplace negativity before it even happens. Provide employees with a safe place and a person to trust to be able to discuss their problems or concerns. Make sure employees know they have open communication with upper management and team leads. Use the right tools and technology to bolster communication and engagement, thereby improving company morale.
Make sure not to stay silent if you notice an employee’s negative behavior impacting other departments or employees. Have regular one-on-one conversations to check in on employees well-being and job satisfaction. Create a clear code of conduct and make sure everyone in the company is aligned and aware of the policies and the professional standards the company upholds.
Make sure to give employee recognition to those who deserve it. Create a healthy and positive workplace environment. Lastly, hire candidates who are in line with your company culture and let go of employees that refuse to uphold the company’s code of conduct.
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