Tips on Addressing Employee Negativity

Employee negativity is probably something that we have all come across at some point in our careers. No business is immune! It happens in every business and every industry. So what should you do to prevent, manage and get rid of negativity in the workplace?

Published Categorised as Managing People
2017-03-02 - Tips on Addressing Employee Negativity - Lighter HR
2017-03-02 - Tips on Addressing Employee Negativity - Lighter HR

Employees Do Like To Moan!

Employee negativity is probably something that we have all come across at some point in our careers.  No business is immune!  It happens in every business and every industry.  Negativity can start with just a few conversations but has the potential of spreading widely within the business. It can permeate into the core culture of a company if it is not stopped.

Employee negativity can take many forms. It can impact not just on the morale of staff but also on their levels of engagement and performance. Ultimately, if unmanaged it can eventually impact on productivity and therefore the profitability of the business.  As awkward as it can be, negativity does need to be nipped in the bud.

If you are a people manager, business owner or an HR professional than you should always seek to find ways to address employee negativity.  So what should you do to prevent, manage and get rid of negativity in the workplace?

The questions answered in this post are:

1. Call Out Employee Negativity

Firstly, when you notice employees making negative comments about the workplace, internal practices, colleagues, management – don’t ignore it.  

There is a need to approach these kinds of employee issues with caution however.  It’s very normal for employees to grumble and you can’t react to everything.  Wading in every time you hear something negative isn’t going to help the situation. It could make you sound very defensive.  Keep your ears open and see whether the pattern continues.

When it does seem like the negativity is genuine then it does need to be addressed.  Train your managers to manage difficult and challenging conversations so that they can effectively call out negative comments made by employees.

2. Put a Stop To It

If you have witnessed employees having negative conversations or making negative comments then what should you do?  You have to remember that employees have a right to an opinion and a right to express those opinions. Simply shutting the conversation down isn’t helpful.  

One thing you do need to avoid though is joining in with the moaning in an effort to show that you’re one of the team!

The approach you should take is to try to explore the issue and to turn the conversation around. Show another perspective and highlight the importance of seeking solutions rather than getting trapped into a cycle of complaining.

You may not have all the answers or know the right thing to say but you can always express a more optimistic opinion and discourage further negative talk. People managers are invaluable when it comes to setting the tone of the conversations in teams.

3. Deal With Any Issues/Concerns Raised

You may succeed at stopping a conversation but unless you deal with the actual issues at hand, new conversations will start again. If there is negative talk amongst your employees, find out the reasons for it. Then, think about what you can do to resolve any issues.

Sometimes employees engage in negative conversations because they simply do not have a constructive forum to voice their concerns and raise any issues.  Making sure that employees have regular opportunity to speak with management can really help to nip problems in the bud. Employee Engagement Surveys can be a great way to ensure that your employees have the opportunity to express their views in a more controlled and structured manner.

Whatever the reasons or causes of negativity in the workplace, one rule always stands – don’t ignore it. We, at LighterHR work with many clients on ways to improve their managers’ skills and capabilities so that they would be able to manage any workplace conflict and would have the confidence to turn around any negative conversations.

If this is something that you think your business would benefit from, just give us a call on 0203 319 1649 and we will be happy to look at the best way we could help you.

4. When Negative Employees Go Public

There’s another reason to ensure that you deal with employee negativity promptly. It is now very easy for employees to start venting their frustrations publicly if they feel they are not being taken seriously. Platforms such as Glassdoor give employees an opportunity to express, anonymously unfortunately, any views they have on what a company is like to work for.

We’ve had a number of clients face real challenge with disgruntled employees (either present or past) posting extremely negative reviews about the work environment on Glassdoor. There’s clear reputational risk with this type of behaviour. It can also make recruitment extremely difficult as candidates will look here as part of their research into potential employers. Just as it is with TripAdvisor, some will be deterred from engaging with a company with negative reviews.

Online Reviews

We do recommend that you keep an eye on what is being said online about your business. You can do this by setting up Google alerts or keeping a regular check on Glassdoor on other sites of that nature.

If you do see negative comments, we recommend responding but never in a defensive manner.

The reason to respond is to demonstrate that you take feedback seriously. It’s also an opportunity to correct any factual errors. It requires very careful handling so as to ensure that you don’t sound as if you’re shouting the employee down but leaving negative comments unanswered isn’t going to make them go away.

You can also sometimes reach out to the site and request posts be removed They tend to only be willing to do so in a very narrow set of circumstances as, everyone has a right to express their opinion.

If you are dealing with negativity in the work place and would like to discuss what you could do about it, then please complete the contact form below and one of the team will be in touch with you.

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