Negativity in the workplace is like a bad case of the winter flu. Those who have it spread it easily to others, who then pass it on to even more people. Before you know it, your whole organization is under the weather.
In fact, according to the Gallup Organization, disenchanted workers cost the American economy up to $350 billion in lost productivity every year.
What can you do to manage it? Here are five things we’ve discovered along the way that have definitely helped us to improve our culture:
#1 Make optimism a core value Ours states, “Has a positive attitude and always finds a way.” It’s important to set the tone and clearly communicate that optimism is something you take seriously and expect of yourself and everyone else.
#2 Screen hires It’s great to encourage positive energy with existing employees but it’s even better to hire upbeat people to begin with. A combination of “Five Dynamics” testing and our own intuition help us to consistently hone in on the right people for our organization.
#3 Be transparent An absence of knowledge from the top feeds rumor mills and breeds negativity. Share what you know as freely as you can and as soon as you can so people can feel safe and in the know.
#4 Show respect Negativity is often the result of feeling disrespected; in fact it’s been shown that people who were bullied as children are more prone to struggle with negative thoughts as adults. So treating everyone with genuine, unfailing respect will go a long way toward stopping negativity in its tracks.
#5 Weed the garden Sad to say, but some folks just can’t seem to lose their negative energy. After a fair trial, it’s best to ask them to leave. Not only will this prevent the contagion from spreading, but other employees will applaud you for exercising some appropriate tough love.
That said, we’ve found that optimism is like any other important corporate value: identify it, nurture it and in a short while it will start to spread and flourish.