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. It can start with just a few conversations but has the potential of spreading widely within the business and permeating into the core culture of a company if it is not stopped.
Employee negativity can take many forms and can impact not just on the morale of staff but also on their levels or 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 root out employee negativity. So what should you do to prevent, manage and get rid of negativity in the workplace?
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 with caution however. It’s very normal for employees to grumble and you can’t react to everything. Wading it every time you hear something negative isn’t going to help the situation and 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.
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 so 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 boys!
The approach you should take is trying to explore the issue and trying to turn the conversation around, showing another perspective and highlighting 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 and those who manage teams are invaluable when it comes to setting the tone of the conversations in teams and therefore are instrumental in turning the negative conversation into a more positive one.
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 what the reasons for it are and 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.
Whatever the reasons or causes of negativity in the workplace, one rule always stands – don’t ignore it. We, at Lighter HR Solutions 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.