Workplace Negativity: Ten ways to minimize negativity in the workplace

Published On
Feb 9, 2021
Read Time
6 Minutes
OnBlick Inc

Employers and HR managers deal with numerous internal challenges at work regularly. Workplace negativity is one such challenge that troubles organizations across the globe. The vicious cycle of negativity can adversely impact the energy of the organization, and eventually, be detrimental to employee performance and productivity. HR experts recommend business owners to identify the symptoms of negativity and prevent its undesirable consequences.

Why should workplace negativity be curbed?

At times, you might witness some of your employees feeling disengaged and lacking energy. There could be a decline in productivity and an increase in absenteeism. You could often hear rumors, gossips, and complaints in and around the office. It’s high time you realized that these are all signs of workplace negativity that can damage your organization’s culture in numerous ways. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that workplace negativity costs businesses $3 billion a year due to its harmful effects. You know what scares the more than the economic loss? The fact that negativity is contagious.

Negativity deteriorates workplace relationships and can affect your employees’ mental health too. The negative behavior of some employees can impact the morale of others. We are all aware of the significance of employee morale to the success of a business. As a leader, have you ever thought of ways to minimize negativity? If you haven’t, this blog suggests a few that help you and your teams maintain a positive work environment.

Before we begin, you need to be aware of some of the symptoms of negativity. According to Gary S. Topchik, the author of Managing Workplace Negativity, the symptoms include increased customer complaints, high turnover, low quality of work, increased absences, loss of morale and motivation, lack of creativity and innovation, and disloyalty to the organization. Several other industry experts warn business owners to check in with their employees if they observe the latter experience a loss of confidence, or if they feel burnt out, dissatisfied, or demotivated.

How can workplace negativity be minimized?

1. Encourage regular two-way feedback

Whether it be about work or other matters that concern your workforce, you should encourage a culture that promotes two-way feedback. The supervisors should provide timely feedback on the employees’ performances. And, the employees must be given a platform to voice their ideas and opinions.

Besides this, regular meetings need to be conducted with your employees to discuss any issues they may have been facing. Inspire them to share how they feel about their jobs, what they would change, and what they need to perform better in the workplace. All your employees must be encouraged to voice their concerns. Successful businesses believe that employees’ opinions in every aspect matter. This includes everything from work hours, salary, and overtime, to dress codes, working conditions, to other company policies.

2. Follow a systematic approach to problem resolution

Let’s suppose that you observe negative behavior in an employee or a group of employees. You can start by having one-on-one conversations with employees who may have negative feelings about their work and try to understand the reasons behind these feelings. Make sure you offer a positive perspective on these issues for your employees.

In addition to this, you should also keep your eyes open for larger issues like discrimination or harassment that your workforce may be facing. You need to ensure that your workplace policies are followed by conducting disciplinary reviews and carrying out corrective actions when needed. Whatever be the instance, make sure you avoid criticizing your employees publicly.

3. Rewards and recognition can be of great help

It goes without saying that reward and recognition are two of the most powerful tools an organization can use to maintain employee morale. If your employees feel that their hard work goes unrecognized, be wary that it could breed negativity. Offering adequate reward and recognition to your employees not only instills a feeling of belonging, but also shows that you value their contribution. Investing in rewards and recognition programs will work wonders in terms of greater dedication and better performance.

4. Clear and consistent communication solves a lot of problems

There’s no doubt that uncertainty can give rise to fear and negativity in the workplace. It is for the same reason that HR experts consider it essential to have clear-cut communication across the different levels of the organization. Keeping the top-down messaging and communication consistent is believed to boost employee confidence. Constant communication among teams is inevitable for seamless operations in teams.

Nevertheless, employers should be careful about the way they communicate with the employees. You speak and act with consistency, and share your vision of the company with them. One mustn’t forget that promoting one-way communication and not participating in open dialogue with employees are traits that toxic managers exhibit.

5. Foster a positive work culture

We understand how significant it is to build a strong organizational culture. Employers should see that the vision, mission, and values that the company embraces are conveyed to the employees regularly. In fact, research suggests that hiring the right people who fit with your organizational beliefs and values is a great step towards building a strong culture.

SHRM advocates several hiring practices to ensure cultural fit and that highlights the importance of hiring people who resonate with the values and principles of the organization. An inclusive work culture that provides each person a voice, and includes everyone in the communication will pave way for positivity in the workplace.

6. Provide the opportunity for growth

When your employees feel that their jobs do not offer any scope of growth, they may feel demotivated and have a negative view of their work. Offering opportunities for career development and growth reflects an organization’s commitment to its staff. You can invest in anything ranging from leadership, soft skills, and managerial, to technical skills development.

Employees who are engaged in their jobs and are optimistic about growth prospects are less likely to develop negativity. You must make sure that there is are opportunities for career and role advancement for the employees. It enhances employee satisfaction, boosts the retention rate, and inspires them to be engaged with the organization.

7. Transparency helps build trust

When you value and appreciate the employees for their work, they begin to place their trust in their leaders and stay committed to the organization. Lack of transparency is a major reason why employees lose trust in their organizations. The employees should be updated with the happenings and major decisions regarding the organization. It lets them know that their contribution is important. Also, they will be motivated to come up with solutions in case of problems.

Employers can always involve their employees when making important decisions and implement their best ideas. If the organization doesn't trust the employees, it becomes obvious to them. Such instances may lead them to feel demotivated towards reaching their potential for better results at work.

8. Do away with micromanagement

Give your employees a sense of control over their work. To an extent, employers should give up the paternalistic attitude. Employees should be treated like adults who are capable to take decisions related to what they do. There might be feelings of negativity among the workers if their inputs/opinions are not given importance. When the supervisor doesn't consider the inputs of the workers while taking important decisions, it may have a damaging impact on them. Empower your teams to work independently and in collaboration with others on their own.

9. Treat all employees equally

Every employee desires fair and non-judgmental treatment at the workplace. It is not just your responsibility to provide the same, but also their right to be treated in a non-discriminatory manner. As an employer, you must pay extra attention to stay away from favoritism as it can cause a loss of motivation and build a feeling of hatred in your employees. As a result, employee loyalty declines, and a negative attitude towards the organization develops.

On the contrary, when fair treatment and equal opportunities are provided to all, employees are content and more productive. It has been acknowledged that applying the same standard of accountability and system of rewards to all employees helps tackle the issue of workplace negativity.

10. Realize the harmful effects of overwork

Psychological research has validated that overwork not only leads to disengagement but also a decline in productivity. So, every manager should realize that cheering your teams to work harder can have a negative impact. To avoid burnout, managers should set their priorities clearly and ensure that they set achievable goals.

Job burnout, a major reason for workplace negativity, can lead to mental health issues like anxiety, stress, and depression besides other physical health problems. See to it that you organize fun activities and team-building events to provide your teams the relief that they deserve. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce advocates that the best workplaces are characterized by transparency, kindness, inclusion, and playfulness.

Final thoughts

It’s the employer’s responsibility to provide support to those employees who exhibit negative behaviors and to see to it that every possible effort to resolve workplace negativity is carried out. The above ways to minimize negativity area result of years of research by scholars and they have been highly effective to several organizations worldwide. We are sure that implementing these practices will help you in creating a positive work environment where everyone feels valued and supported.


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