Workplace negativity can adversely affect a Company in many ways. It can become a major issue when it starts to affect other employees and a toxic workplace environment is not fun or healthy for employees or good for the Company.

It can come in many different forms. It can evolve from gossiping or rumours, lack of trust or even personal hostilities between two employees.

If workplace negativity is not managed properly, it can affect employee engagement, productivity and retention. In addition, it can really hurt the Company’s reputation and success.

A Forbes article wisely notes that “The days of gathering around the water cooler have moved online, adding another challenge, as people can hide behind screens and think less about the impact of their words and actions”.

To overcome negativity in the workplace, we have put together a list of 10 simple tips to help you battle negativity in your Company and avoid it in the future:

1. Ensure that employees have a safe place to vent problems or concerns

Whether you set up an anonymous suggestion box or have regular one-on-one meetings to check in on your employees, it’s essential that you provide employees with a safe place and a person to trust to vocalise their issues or concerns to.

When employees feel that their opinions matter and their voices are heard, you can reduce the chances of employees feeling negatively about their jobs and therefore increase employee satisfaction.

2. Create an open-door policy for communication

If you don’t have an open-door policy in place already, then you should implement it ASAP. Employees who feel that they cannot come to management and freely communicate with upper management tend to be disgruntled and unhappy.

It’s not only about being available when an employee needs to talk, but it’s about talking in a healthy and proactive manner. Don’t be reactive to an employee’s feelings or negative behaviour. Instead, proactively communicate to find a common ground and understanding. Management should set an example by keeping communications positive. Try countering negative statements by pointing out a positive.

3. Confront employees if you notice negativity affecting other employees

If you notice there are specific employees who are directly impacting the workplace environment and other employees in an adverse or negative way, it’s imperative that you set up a meeting with them in private to address the situation. Instead of waiting to deal with the situation, you must deal with it immediately because you can’t create change by staying silent.

Have conversations that address any negative behaviours you witness. Don’t make a public spectacle of it, as that will only contribute to negativity and hostility, it’s better to speak to the employee person-to-person and try to understand what is motivating them to behave in such a way.

4. Make sure employees are aware of your Company policies

Well written policies should clarify your business’s mission, values and goals, linking them with standards of professional conduct. An employee handbook should articulate the values you wish to foster in leaders and employees and, in doing so, defines desired behaviour. If your Company does not have clear policies that have been distributed to all employees, then you are already putting yourself at risk for negativity and at a huge disadvantage. Get in touch and we can help you create one!

Make sure employees are up-to-date and aware of all policies and make sure they adhere and uphold these professional standards as they directly reflect your Company’s culture and ethics.

5. Get employee feedback on things that can be improved

Employees that feel their voices are heard are more likely to be satisfied with their job and their Company. By periodically asking employees for feedback on things in the office that can be improved on, Companies can make active changes that will positively impact the workplace environment. Some of the ways you can receive feedback from your employees include employee surveys, live polls and a suggestion box. Management should make collecting feedback a regular monthly or quarterly task.

Management should continually get direct feedback from employees on how to make the workplace more enjoyable, less tense, etc. By receiving feedback from employees, management can gain valuable insights into how to make the Company better for everyone! It’s not just about collecting feedback though; you must act on it otherwise you’ve just wasted everybody’s time. In fact, it has a more negative impact than if you hadn’t asked at all.

If you are interested in running a survey, then get in touch, as we can do this for you.

6. Ensure management are aligned on how to approach negativity

If everyone is not up to speed on how to handle negativity at work, then your Company is at a loss. To ensure everyone is on the same page, policies on how to handle negativity or adversity should be made clear and always available for reference if needed.

You should provide management and team leaders with the skills required and we run a 2-day Line Manager training course, where they would certainly benefit!

7. Promote and encourage employee camaraderie with team building activities

Team building activities can help reduce negativity and squash it before it becomes a problem. Whether it’s weekly lunches where people can socialise, holding holiday parties during the workday that go all out (think pumpkin-carving contests), or monthly happy hours that begin at 4pm, integrating some opportunities for play within work can foster healthy relationships and build trust among colleagues. One of the main reasons for workplace negativity is a lack of trust among employees.

Company outings and team building exercises are great ways to get your employees to find a common ground, work together and build trust, thereby increasing your chances of overcoming negativity in the workplace.

8. Make sure to give employee recognition

Management should not only give employees critical feedback but should also commend and recognise employees that go above and beyond. Positive employee recognition has a huge impact on a positive work environment. The purpose of feedback is to reinforce what you’d like to see the employee do more of. The purpose of employee recognition is the same. In fact, employee recognition is one of the most powerful forms of feedback that you can provide.

9. Promote a positive, happy and healthy workplace

There should be a focus on creating a workplace environment that is positive and happy. By ensuring employees are happy you reduce employee turnover, reduce negativity in the workplace, increase productivity, boost employee morale and increase employee engagement. The benefits of a positive workplace are endless!

A positive workplace is more successful over time because it increases positive emotions and well-being. This in turn, improves people’s relationships with each other and amplifies their abilities and their creativity. It buffers against negative experiences such as stress, thus improving employees’ ability to bounce back from challenges and difficulties while bolstering their health. Bottom line is that not only do your employees benefit from a positive work environment, but your Company benefits from it as well!

10. Make sure to hire employees who value positivity and let go of those who are causing issues

When hiring, you should hire candidates that are in line with your Company culture. Look for those who can engage in healthy conflict yet remain optimistic, believing that they can solve problems. Look for candidates who show a strong belief in the good of other people and their ability to succeed. By finding candidates that will only benefit the Company’s workplace environment you avoid negativity in the workplace before it even happens!

On the other hand, it’s also crucial to let go of employees who are directly negatively impacting the working environment and other employees. If you are unable to find common ground between you and a “problem employee” and their behaviour is not changing, then it may be time to let the employee go. These negative employees affect other employees which in turn can affect the reputation and success of your business. At the end of the day, it’s essential that bad seeds don’t hurt the growth and success of the Company and that Company culture and values stay solid for other employees.

However, this could come with risk, so any conversations you need about ending employment, then please speak to us first via the contact details below..

Now it’s time to implement these 10 simple tips to squash negativity in the workplace and avoid workplace negativity before it even happens!!

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidayshr.co.uk. And of course, visit our LinkedIn page.