Negativity in the workplace affects the bottom line.

  October 1, 2019

Sneaking off to the office restroom to cry isn’t limited to a scene in a movie. It’s a reality for nearly half of working Americans. 1 Why the unhappiness? Some of the same factors that affected us on the playground in our youth show up at work as just the way things are done around here: insensitive comments, undue criticism, gossip, and outright bad behavior.

The Problem

It’s actually a serious problem in companies large and small – and it’s labeled as Workplace Negativity. A bundle of behaviors that lead to stress, employee disengagement, poor performance, and lagging productivity. And it costs your organization real dollars.

Recognizing negativity isn’t always easy. It’s not just the Debbie Downer that complains about everything. It’s the clock watcher, “Only 30 minutes and we’re outta here.” The doodler who spends an entire meeting drawing the plant in the corner who didn’t hear anything discussed. The deadline dodger who always has an excuse on why work wasn’t completed on schedule. And the dissenter who says there’s no use giving their opinion because “nobody will listen.”

The Stats

Beyond the staggering price tag from US Labor Statistics of $3 BILLION a year in costs, 2 is the direct affect within your organization. In recent surveys, 81% of respondents admitted they were not “fully engaged” at work. 3 That means most of your employees are not performing at their best.

More importantly, these negative behaviors can spread to your top performers. As they notice that their co-workers aren’t pulling their weight, they often reduce their efforts as well. It’s not that they are bad apples, it’s human nature to compare ourselves with others and conform, rather than stand out.

The Solution

  • Start with yourself. Are you unwittingly spreading negativity? Model the behavior you expect from your team or organization. Encourage and compliment the good behavior. Remember the sage advice to praise in public and correct in private.
  • Stay professional. If you need to address an issue, keep the conversation calm and respectful. It may give you insight to a problem the employee wasn’t comfortable addressing. Avoid the temptation to send out a mass email asking for everyone to get along.
  • Celebrate the wins. Often employees feel that they never hear from the boss unless they’ve done something wrong. A simple, genuine compliment can work wonders. Try to catch them doing the right thing. Encourage your team leaders, department heads, and other influencers to do the same.
  • Improve communication. New company policies should not just be for those who “need to know.” Transparency across the board improves morale. Whether it’s a weekly huddle or a bi-weekly newsletter, eliminating miscommunication and misunderstanding gives employees a stronger sense of stability and security.
  • Ask for input and feedback. Being open to employee ideas and suggestions increases engagement and creates a stronger collaborative atmosphere. Even if it isn’t a feasible suggestion, recognize and appreciate the effort.

While every day won’t be all sunshine, making a concerted effort to eliminate negativity can reduce crying in business and pay great dividends in productivity and profitability.

For more information on managing workplace negativity and other ways to improve communication and processes, contact us at Success Trek.

References:
1 Ginger
2 US Bureau of Labor and Statistics
3 ADP Research

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