Would it surprise you to learn that the majority of employees spend several hours each week complaining about their jobs?
According to a 2017 survey by Badbossology.com and Development Dimensions International, over 60% of employees regularly spend ten or more hours per month engaged in complaining about their bosses or work conditions. We’ve all been around the ‘Negative Nellie’ in the office, and truth be told, we’ve probably all been one at some point, too. There may be occasions when a worker underperforms in their role, requiring additional steps to steer them back on course. But sometimes, an employee can actually be toxic. In this situation, their negative attitude and behavior eventually contaminates others on the team, driving pessimism, dissatisfaction and discord through the roof. Constant complaining, disruptive gossip, resistance to change, manipulation, and lack of accountability are all examples of actions that could mean trouble. These behaviors can be challenging to manage, too. After all, a bad attitude isn’t necessarily a disciplinary offense and we all get irritable every now and then. But if you do identify persistently negative employees in your workplace, don’t ignore their conduct, hoping things will improve on their own. The longer you do nothing, the more damage is likely to occur.
What’s driving these downers? It’s important to start off by considering why some employees become downbeat and disgruntled. The list of reasons why people may complain at work is a long one. Some people are just natural-born pessimists—their glass is always half empty and the clouds in their sky never have silver linings.
Keep in mind that it can be quite challenging to change a negative attitude when it’s this ingrained. Other common reasons your employees may gripe at work include:
- Being overwhelmed by too much work or too little time to accomplish required tasks
- Poor leadership that trickles down through the organization
- Lack of appreciation, which leads to reduced engagement
- Boredom stemming from the lack of challenging, interesting work
Negativity is bad for business. Being gloomy and cynical at work is an easy trap for people to fall into, but it’s definitely harmful to your organization. Negativity affects everything from engagement to productivity, and it even impacts employee retention.
Who wants to work in an unhealthy, depressing environment? Combating negativity isn’t an impossible challenge, but you have to tackle it head on and in a strategic manner.
Follow these five tips to deal with the Negative Nellies (and Nelsons) in your workplace.
- Provide opportunities for people to offer opinions and make decisions. Everyone wants to feel that they have influence over their own jobs. Almost any decision that excludes the input of the person who’s doing the work is going to be perceived as negative and is a recipe for trouble. When possible and appropriate, make opportunities available for people to express their opinions about workplace policies and procedures, too. Areas such as work hours, pay, benefits, overtime, dress codes, office location, job requirements, and working conditions are driving factors for every employee.
- Align your team members with your company’s overall direction. People want to feel empowered and that they are part of a larger initiative. When employees understand and embrace the organization’s vision, mission and values, they’ll be in a better position to make contributions that foster positivity.
- Encourage social interaction. Too much isolation can create opportunities for stress and frustration to mount. Consider hosting fun, collaborative activities, such as volunteer projects at the holidays or periodic team outings. Hold regular employee recognition gatherings to show appreciation for contributions and talents. Activities like these can also help employees feel that they’re a valued part of the organization.
- Focus on growth and development. Training, opportunities for promotions and cross-training are visible signs of an organization’s commitment to its staff. Show your dedication to employee development by working with each member of your team to create a career path that aligns with their goals, talents and interests.
- Treat people with fairness, consistency and trust. It’s imperative that every employee is aware of and understands the policies and procedures your company enforces. It’s also important that they’re applied impartially and consistently across the board. Treat every staff member as if they’re trustworthy and deserving of your respect. People have a way of living up or down to expectations, so when you assume excellent performance, they’re more likely to deliver it.
Some people are negative, either because it is their nature, or simply because your organization isn’t the right place for them. You can do everything right and they will still complain and, as a result, impact your entire team’s culture. At that point, as a leader, regardless of that person’s work output, you need to recognize that it may be time for them to move on. And that’s OK.
The most effective weapon against negativity is positivity. Strive to make an optimistic, helpful and healthy attitude part of everything you do. Hire cooperative people who light up the room and choose vendors who enjoy and care about their work. You’ll find that negativity is a lot weaker than you thought it was.
If you need additional guidance in nixing the negativity in your workplace, please contact the experienced professionals at The HR Team.
About The HR Team: Founded in 1996, The HR Team is a Maryland-based human resources outsourcing firm committed to developing strategic, customized solutions that respond to the unique needs and cultures of organizations of all types and sizes. Available as a one-source alternative to an in-house HR department or on an à la carte project basis, the company’s flexible service models address the full spectrum of HR needs that many organizations struggle to address. The HR Team helps clients achieve their highest level of success by providing value-driven human resources services that leave them time to focus on what they do best: directing business growth and profitability. Headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, the firm serves all of Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia. To learn more about The HR Team, call 410.381.9700 or visit https://www.thehrteam.com/.