Employee Negativity Causes and Cures

Today’s organizations lose more than $3 billion annually due to the impact of negativity on performance and productivity in the workplace.

The Costs of Doing Nothing
Loss of productivity. Negative and disengaged employees only give 65 percent of their full effort on tasks and duties, although they are receiving 100 percent of their full salary. This means an organization is obtaining a negative return on investment in labor for all disengaged staff. Lets assume you are paying an employee $55k in annual salary, and since they are disengaged they are only providing $35,750 (.65 x $55k) worth of energy and effort toward tasks and duties. For only one disengaged employee, the organization is losing roughly $19k in productivity annually. Multiply this by additional disengaged employees and the losses can be staggering.

Loss of time. The average manager and supervisor spends about 22 percent of their time managing people. It can take up to 100 percent more time when you have to manage disengaged employees who perform just enough to meet expectations and typically cause 50 percent of the team conflicts.

Loss of talent. If other staff members don’t think you will effectively address negative employees, you will lose credibility and some staff will quit and leave, others will quit and stay!

A recent study by Towers Perrin surveyed over 1,000 employees and 300 senior Human Resources executives to find the top causes for why employees become toxic:

Cause #1: Overwhelming work
When work starts to gradually be dumped on employees, some may begin to think they are being taking advantage of, or being punished for being a hard worker. The next step, they become bitter and resentful.

Cause #2: Change in job duties
Let’s be honest, when a new employee reviews a job description prior to the interview, many of them rarely remember the phrase “and other duties as assigned.” And that’s one of the main culprits of their protective phrase “that’s not my job!” When you sprinkle in “other-duties-as-assigned,” you’ve sparked a flame of fury. This flame becomes a fire when those “other duties” become permanent.

Cures: Delegate, don’t dump. Obtain buy-in
Know the difference between delegating and dumping work on your employees. Its delegating when you consider how the work can develop the or challenge the employee. Its dumping when you are just trying to get it off your plate as fast as possible. Ask for their input, involve them. Remember people tend not to destroy that which they help create. Get their buy-in!

Cause #3: Insufficient recognition
I remember one manager told me that “when employees receive their paycheck twice per month, that’s their praise and recognition. The don’t need any more from me.” I disagreed and told him if that’s the only recognition they receive they will only give you “paycheck performance.”

Cure: Praise and recognize at least weekly
Remember praise and recognition should be genuine, timely, specific and tailored to the person. Change up your routine. The typical “thank you” in an email or text has become diluted and blase’. Start looking for more creative ways to praise and recognize staff rather than when they go above and beyond. Who have you seen display your core values?  Who is always punctual? Who maintained a positive attitude during a moment when they could have been negative? If you start looking for more of what you want to see, you will see more of it!

Empower your managers to neutralize negativity in 90 minute, half-day or full day training sessions. 

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