In a nutshell, what do most potential employees believe the human resource department is responsible for? Answer: hiring appropriate personnel to drive the company’s mission forward. But what about the value that you and your department bring to the camaraderie of the company? As the first to speak to employees when they start and often the last on exit interviews, the human resources department has the advantage of turning employee concerns, complaints and exit interviews into fodder for positive change.
Workplace negativity can manifest, transforming a team, spreading to departments and eventually, impacting organizations company-wide. It’s infectious - think about it. When one employee loses confidence in their work or meaning for their job, they consult with their peers, which gets others' gears turning. Unlike the trickle down effect, workplace negativity grows from the inside out. As such, addressing and minimizing this attitude also begins from the inside out.
Take these five tips on both prevention and lessening workplace negativity:
1. Use Positive Language, But Sympathize
Acknowledge feelings of loss or motivation of your employees. It is important to use positive language when discussing concerns or communicating changes, successes and even failures - for every failure is a learning opportunity and thus promotes future open communication. Encourage leadership to share stories of success in celebration and acknowledge all hands involved. Starting positive talk can reduce negative chatter and possibly alter the morale of teams.
2. Work with Leadership to Organize Team-Building Events
Team-building activities are opportunities for employees to build camaraderie with their coworkers outside of the formal workplace. Attending workshops and conferences may be helpful for development of skills - but encouraging positive outlooks and productivity could be found in activities by team or department as outside of the box as indoor rock climbing! Events outside of the office could also spark creativity, encourage collaboration and increase productivity. When employees feel rewarded - it will be reflected in their work.
3. Provide a Clear, Strategic and Organizational Framework
While we can speak about the importance of communication over and over again - it is important to have a framework and direction for departments, teams, and employees explicitly stated. When employees are confused about growth in their role and on their team, they may lose interest in the company’s mission and their motivation and productivity may be negatively impacted. Organizational design helps to identify any dysfunctional aspects of procedures and workflow in order to improve culture and productivity.
4. Create Opportunities to Express Opinions
Policy and procedure may look and operate well at a higher level, but for some employees, they may believe that their input is not valid or their work is not valued. Develop a survey or quarterly review to gain introspect to what your employees think and how they feel about their day-to-day, team members, and management. Ask questions like “what process can be fixed or improved?” and “what do you need help with this quarter?” will provide employees the opportunity to both report on their view of the company and their department.
5. Treat Your Employees as Adults
No one likes to be belittled, or told to complete a task with little to no explanation. When management doesn’t validate the purpose behind projects or consistently check-in, employees will feel that they aren’t trusted to succeed or reach out when needed. Empower your teams to work independently and in collaboration with others on their own.
About the Author: Courtney Makar is a seasoned digital marketer with a wholesome background in counseling and interpersonal affairs.