Like a toxic cloud, negative attitudes can seep into every corner of an organization. What starts as a bad day in one office can sap the morale of every member of your team. This slows productivity, leads to high-turnover, and if left unaddressed, can cause significant damage to your brand in the eyes of industry peers and consumers.
Addressing negativity once it takes root isn't easy. However, it is not impossible and it is crucial for you to invest the time and resources to actively address the causes and move towards changing your company culture.
Roots of Discontent
There are many causes of discontent in the workplace. These include:
Overwork: Requiring one employee to perform the tasks of two, or three employees is never a good idea. While this may be a necessary short-term stopgap measure in situations where an employee quits suddenly or is fired, it should never be a long-term solution.
If it goes on for an extended period, this builds resentment and shows other team members that you are unprepared to keep the team adequately staffed. Even if you reward the employee for their extra efforts, that employee will quickly burn out and begin to exude negative attitudes that will affect team morale.
Downturns/Layoffs: Business is fluid, and there will be times when layoffs are on the table. Failing to enter the layoff process with clear and open communication fosters fear and discourages employees from doing their jobs. It also fosters gossip and rumors which can devastate morale.
Moreover, employees are more likely to focus on concerns over mortgages, student loan payments, and their family's needs than their responsibilities at work. When layoffs or production slow-downs are on the table, you can stem the tide of negativity by fostering open lines of communication and following through on the commitments you make to your teams.
Opportunity Denied: Employees who work hard and are passed over for promotions they are qualified to perform are employees who put their first foot out the door. Moreover, other employees who see their dedicated and qualified colleague passed over are less likely to work hard to achieve their career goals within the organization.
It becomes a cycle where qualified employees see a ceiling they can't break through and leave to pursue their career aspirations elsewhere. As word of "greener pastures" reaches the team, more and more employees put their first foot out the door. Soon, your best talent is working for the competition and fewer people are submitting resumes to work for you.
Positivity Leads to Productivity
It is possible to counter negative clouds when they start to form. With persistent application, the following suggestions can help improve morale and boost productivity.
Request and Respond to Feedback. Always query your employees as to their thoughts. Ask them what they need to perform their jobs. Ask them how you can help them improve their work product. This gives them a stake in the organization. Most importantly, act on the feedback they provide and take actions that generate positive results.
Sweat the Small Stuff. Everything from dress codes to employee picnics may seem small, but it's the small stuff that creates the biggest impact. Showing your employees that you appreciate their efforts makes them feel welcome, and a welcome employee is a happy employee.
Follow the Golden Rule. "Treat others as you would have them treat you" is a mantra that isn't to be ignored. Treating your employees with respect and dignity builds loyalty. It shows your employees that they can come to you with problems that need solutions.
Reward Hard Work. Hard work should always be rewarded in equal measure. The employee that fills a vacant position for months at a time should receive fair compensation for their efforts. The employee whose ideas improve operations and boost productivity should be given more responsibilities and compensation to match their value in the organization.
Create Career Ladders. Is a misconception that employees want to change jobs every couple of years. The reality is that many change jobs because their employer doesn't offer opportunities to grow and advance. Creating opportunities for your team to move up the career ladder encourages them to stay with the organization. Over time, this creates a highly skilled, motivated, and fully dedicated workforce that can take your organization to the highest heights.
Want to Ensure Your Workplace is a Positive One?
We invite you to connect with Infotec, a leading IT and professional development trainer, for more information on our Dale Carnegie Course. It is our pleasure to help you discover the steps you can take to quash negative attitudes before they spread throughout your organization.