Workplace negativity can come in many different forms, but the impact is always the same; it stifles collaboration, creativity, and leaves employees feeling drained. Whether it is a colleague gossiping, or a manager talking down about company protocol, negativity in the workplace creates a culture of mistrust and can have a serious impact on your bottom line. Many times we react to situations that make us uncomfortable subconsciously. These reactions tend to come in the form of a nervous laugh, quick smile, or sometimes even an agreeing comment. Making a conscious effort to combat negativity is a great first step to making the issue less of a recurring theme in your work life.
Negativity is Killing Productivity
A Gallup survey revealed that every company has on average 1 in 6 employees who actively affect their colleagues productivity in a negative manner. Things such as pessimistic personality, having poor communication, or simply being unhappy at work (poor job fit). The truth is this is costing companies much more than they may know. If every 1 in 6 employees is bringing negativity into work, that is 1 person you can expect your employees to tiptoe around or avoid altogether. If your business is team orientated this can be extremely dangerous. CPP Inc did a study on workplace conflict that revealed that conflict at work is costing U.S. businesses about $359 billion annually. These are hours paid for not work, but for gossiping, bickering, and so on.
The Impact on Your Brand
Unhappy employees can quickly tarnish your brand image through unpleasant interactions both on and off the job. For example, employee posts on social media complaining about work or colleagues can deter your recruiting efforts and make it hard for you to fill open positions. Also, if you have disgruntled employees who are in client facing roles this can be a toxic mix for your customer relationships. When you send a representative from your company to meet with a client or potential client you need to be sure they have the company's best interest at heart. If they aren’t completely happy at work this can change on a daily basis, leaving interaction up to chance.
How to Combat It
While it sounds a bit extreme, drafting a policy on workplace negativity is a great first step in riding your workplace of those unneeded distractions. When you have a policy in place you can confidently approach employees who are in violation of the policy with a clear guideline. This gives you a firm ground to stand on by allowing you to simply refer to the policy in place, which employees should already be aware of. Having employees sign this during the onboarding process makes the expectation clear from the beginning and will allow you to have an easier conversation later on if necessary.