How to Keep Workplace Negativity to a Minimum

Negativity in the workplace can be detrimental to many facets of your operations. It has far-reaching effects than you may not even realize. Anyone who comes in contact with your staff may feel this negativity, and this includes your customers, clients, and even your employees’ family members.

Workplace negativity is not only about feeling poorly about a situation or about the company in general. It can lead to a reduction in energy and motivation. It can also cause negative feedback from customers and an overall downturn in productivity.

1. Start with yourself

You may see workplace negativity in others, but before you can bring about real change in your office, you need to take a closer look at yourself. Your own actions and behaviors may be feeding the negativity in your office.

This could be caused by your stress level related to your workload or even personal issues at home. As an owner or manager, you understandably have a lot to think about that your employees may not be aware of, but this should not be outwardly visible.

Your employees will watch your actions and listen to your words. Negativity can be contagious, but the good news is that positivity can also easily spread to others. You simply have to identify your own issues and be willing to make a change.

2. Lend an ear to your employees

Some of your employees may have true grievances and issues that they may rightfully feel negative about. While general negativity can be felt by others, remember that some employees are rather vocal, and they can easily spread even more negativity throughout your office and beyond.

  • Be open to listening to any issue that you become aware of.
  • Have an open door policy, and even reach out to people directly if you feel that they have something on their mind.
  • When you listen to grievances, listen attentively. Ask questions that show that you are actively listening and trying to understand the situation.
  • Summarize the conversation before the employee leaves your presence so that you can make an informed decision about how to act based on correct facts.

If necessary, ask for information from others who are involved in the situation.

3. Create a culture of teamwork

There may be other reasons why your team has negative feelings at work. For example, some people may not feel as though they are included in the team or as though their hard work matters at all.

Everyone should understand how important their individual efforts are, and they should also understand and appreciate the efforts that others are making. When you have an atmosphere of cooperation and teamwork, your team may develop a better attitude and work more efficiently.

There are several ways to create a team environment in a workplace. For example, you can ask your employees to volunteer together or even set up a teambuilding activity. An after-work happy hour or even a fun game night may work well in some offices.

These types of social events can help each member of your team to feel included, and they can also nurture a feeling of respect inside your office.

4. Allow people to grow and develop

Employees may also feel unhappy in their positions when they feel as though there is no advancement potential. When they feel stagnant at work, they may lose focus and motivation. Some may feel as though they are going through the motions when they really want to be advancing.

You can combat this type of negativity by encouraging your team members to actively pursue educational opportunities outside of the office, and you may even offer in-house training.

For example, a massive open online course (MOOC) may work well in some office environments. There are also educational apps, webinars, peer-to-peer in-house training, mentoring and more. Technology-based educational platforms are affordable and effective, and they may be a great option for you to offer to your employees.

5. Invest in a health and wellness program

When your team is overly stressed, they may make poor dietary decisions and may have little time for exercise. Their health and wellness are more than physical. It can also affect their mental and emotional health, and it can even feed into financial stress in some cases.

A smart idea is to create a wellness program at work that helps your team focus on developing habits. A group gathering for a long walk at lunch is a great idea. You can also bring in bottled water and fresh fruit so that your team is more likely to make healthy dietary choices. And when you go out to eat with your employees, choose a healthy restaurant.

You can even invest in ergonomic furniture to minimize workplace injuries and strain.

6. Give and seek feedback to prevent workplace negativity

Feedback is critical if you want to create a positive work environment. Your employees can grow frustrated if they never receive feedback about their performance. They can feel down if they are only criticized and never acknowledged for the positive efforts they make.

It is important to correct mistakes with constructive criticism and to identify great efforts that your team makes. When criticizing, always do so in private. And you may give rewards and acknowledgments publicly.


While workplace negativity may initially seem to come from your individual team members, you can see that management plays a critical role in the positive or negative environment in an office. You can make considerable improvements in morale and overall ambiance in your space when you focus on these important points.

Helen Eagleton
Helen Eagleton, a freelance blogger from Boston, follows topics in the realm of education, technology, digital marketing, and business in general. When she's not researching for her next article, she enjoys watching documentaries and exploring the nature. Reach her on Twitter.
Helen Eagleton

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