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Five quick tips for managing workplace negativity

“Employees don’t leave companies; they leave bad bosses and colleagues and a toxic environment. “Yes, you must have heard this a million times. And as much as cliché as it sounds, if you honestly give some thought to it, you’ll realize that it’s true.

Nothing gets to an employee as much as consistent negativity in the workplace environment. Workplace negativity is toxic and contagious. It affects the energy of the organisation and in the long run, hampers performance and productivity.

1. Be conscious. Stop living under a rock.

If you know that you have a problem and that the sort of negativity around the problem is toxic and destroying the productive outlook at the workplace, you need to take the initial step and be aware of what people are negative about. Being conscious about the problem is the first step to managing the situation.

You may know of or may have come across managers who choose to stay in the dark, turn a blind eye on or brush their shoulders off claiming that these are problems often blown out of proportion by employees. In this day and age, HR managers can’t afford to stay oblivious or live under a rock like Patrick did while listening to their own inner voices because the more your employees convince themselves that they are talking to a wall, the faster they are going to be “open to work” for other employers.

2. Do away with micromanagement.

Employers should, to some extent, give up the paternalistic attitude and start believing that their employees are experts and are capable of making decisions about their line of work. Employees may develop negative feelings if their suggestions/opinions are not taken into consideration or if they are overridden by what the employer may feel is the right thing to do. Channelize trust towards your employees. Multiple studies on the internet suggest that wherever employees felt trusted, they were more likely to rise to managers’ expectations and perform better. So, in that case, it must be true. 😉

3. Realize the harmful effects of overwork.

Employees who are overworked are always unproductive, unhappy, and disengaged. To combat this, managers should clearly align priorities and ensure they are realistic. Motivating the team to work harder is a good thing but exhausting them is not.

Job burnout, a major cause of workplace negativity, can result in mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, and depression, in addition to physical health issues. HR teams need to plan fun activities and team-building events (that are seriously doing the job) not to just tick another box off the HR checklist but to actually to give teams the relief they deserve.

4. Foster a positive work culture.

Very often, the negativity around a workplace takes away the can-do attitude where employees are often reluctant, restrict themselves, and/or are simply disinterested to put in that extra effort to do the job.

The end goal of any initiative to foster positive work culture is and should be to create a work environment where employees are motivated to do their best. Employees should inherently believe that although they may face some difficulties in the working environment, eventually they will be able to find solutions. Such an attitude can only be fostered when you recognize your employees’ hard work and motivate them with incentives.

On the other hand, no matter what the company does, there will be that one spoil sport in the team who is going to keep crying and complaining. While companies keep doing their thing to create a positive environment, it is also essential that an organisation’s hiring practise ensures culture fit where those that are hired share the organization’s values and principles and are in the same bandwidth as the team. This ensures that teams are productive and happy and is a win-win for both parties.

5. Rewards and Recognitions can be of great help.

Happy employees are productive and contribute to higher morale. When morale is high, turnover is low, and the company has a better chance of succeeding.

When it comes to motivation, we’ve all heard the expression about the carrot and the stick. While most employees are motivated by the obvious which is a pay check – that isn’t the only proverbial carrot that motivates people today.

As more Millennials and Gen Z workers enter the workforce, the importance of a reward system to boost motivation grows. While the younger workers want fair pay and benefits, they also want to do meaningful and fulfilling work. Recognition for a job well done, or more specifically, frequent praise and awards for their efforts is part of what makes work more meaningful.

Now that we know how to manage negativity in the workplace, it’s time to implement these 5 quick tips to squash negativity in the workplace and avoid workplace negativity before it even happens. Give employees a safe place to talk about their problems or concerns. If you notice an employee’s negative behaviour affecting other departments or employees, do not keep quiet. Have regular one-on-one conversations with employees to check their well-being and job satisfaction.