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3 Tips for Decreasing Workplace Negativity

3 Tips for Decreasing Workplace Negativity

Three co-workers, one man and two women, meeting to discuss how ot decrease negativity in the workplace.

Last Updated March 19, 2015

Human resource professionals may know better than anyone that a positive work environment can foster better morale, greater productivity, and higher employee retention. In comparison, a negative atmosphere can drain the life out of a workplace and cause dissension between employees, poor time management and decreased productivity.

HR managers are often the first to hear about negativity at work, whether through employee complaints, exit interviews or company intranet or social media chatter. Whether the cause is a cut back on employee perks, a management decision that is perceived as a bad move, the fear of layoffs or a combination of factors, negative environments can lead to disengaged employees. Disconnected employees may show up to work, but often don’t make positive contributions to the company.

It’s important to decrease workplace negativity because if left untreated, it has the potential to adversely affect an entire company. Try implementing these three tips:

Consistent Communication and Actions

Uncertainty can instill fear and lead to negativity in the workplace. On the other hand, people may feel more at ease when they know what to expect. Confidence at work typically stems from consistent communication and actions from management. Be sure your company is consistent in the following things.

  • Communications: Regarding upcoming changes in operations, leadership or employment. An informed workforce may be less likely to spread and believe rumors when upper management is up-front about company news.
  • Messages from management:  Miscommunications and misinterpretations often arise from inconsistency or lack of company-wide communication.
  • Enforcing policies: Inconsistent enforcement can lead to distrust and poor morale. Policies should be enforced for all employees. No one gets special treatment.
  • Actions that speak louder than words: Do more than talk-the-talk. Follow through with what you say will be done.

Provide Opportunities for Employees

Employees who feel invested in their jobs may be more productive and engaged, and less likely to seek employment elsewhere. To help increase employee satisfaction, it may be a good idea to provide all workers with opportunities to offer suggestions, express opinions and contribute to decision-making – especially on things that may directly affect their jobs. Employees who feel their input is valued and appreciated may have a higher level of trust in management.

In addition, organizations with clear paths for career advancement may have a happier workforce and a higher retention rate. Developing leaders and promoting from within a company can also help contribute to a higher morale and a strong culture.

Treat Employees Fairly

Employees should expect to receive fair treatment when they come to work. It’s not unusual for workers to closely monitor management personnel for signs of unfairness, even though managers may naturally click with some workers more than others. However, some controversial actions to pay close attention to may include:

  • Managers allowing certain employees to leave early or take longer breaks
  • Supervisors publicly criticizing some workers, while taking others aside to correct privately
  • Distribution of the work is uneven or unfair – some employees are assigned more work or are given more ‘unpleasant’ tasks than other employees
  • Leave time or vacation is approved inconsistently

In addition, it’s important to enforce policies consistently. Make sure supervisors in your company realize the danger of playing favorites. It can cause resentment, disinterest and spread negativity throughout the workplace. Conversely, when employees feel that they are treated fairly, they are typically happier and more productive.

Overcome Negativity

HR professionals are equipped with a variety of tools to help promote a positive company culture and work environment. Still, negativity in the workplace is a growing problem that can affect an entire organization. As an HR leader, it’s important to recognize negative tendencies and immediately deal with the problem before it escalates into a bigger issue. Learning and implementing these three tips can help go a long way toward decreasing workplace negativity.