Or how to fight apathy and negativity!
“Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.” — Dwight Eisenhower
Recently my sister mentioned to me that she was really sick of the negativity that permeated her organization. She has always been heavily committed and motivated about her job, family and the tasks assigned her. She finds it an anathema to hear people not sharing her loyalty and commitment to the organization she works for.
I thought about this and realized that this is a relationship issue and her company needs to look for the cause of the concern or problem. In companies, the root cause for any negativity is normally poor management! A recent study sought to answer the question about what causes employee negativity. The study, conducted by Towers Perrin and researchers Gang & Gang, surveyed a randomly selected group of 1,100 employees and 300 senior Human Resources executives working for mid-sized and large-sized companies in the United States and Canada. What did they find? According to this study, there were 5 major reasons for employee negativity:
- An excessive workload
- Concerns about management’s ability to lead the company forward successfully
- Anxiety about the future, particular longer-term job, income and retirement security
- Lack of challenge in their work, with boredom intensifying existing frustration about workload
- Insufficient recognition for the level of contribution and effort provided, and concerns that pay isn’t commensurate with performance.
Now, some of these will manifest themselves in a company-wide survey, some won’t. But maintain that if you need a survey to identify the issues, then your management is not doing what they are paid to do. You know the best way to maintain a positive work environment? Good management! Effective managers are managers who spend time with their people and recognize there may be issues. They are willing to confront the issues, discuss them and have the commitment to deal with them. There are no shortcuts!
Here are six ways of addressing and avoiding employee negativity.
1. Ensure workloads are not excessive
If you lose an employee and divide the work across several remaining employees, you foster employee negativity unless employees have the end in sight – a new employee with an expected arrival date.
2. Be open and honest on progress of the company
Companies that experience a business downturn will experience negativity. Employees are concerned about both management and their future with the company. Insecure employees are negative and looking for the worst to happen. Tell them what’s going on – the good and the bad.
An employee who applies for a promotion opportunity and does not get the job can be extremely negative. Take great care to make sure your promotion system is fair and that employees know exactly what they need to do to get ready for the next opportunity.
4. Ensure people are recognized for good work
Believe it or not, most people don’t go to work just for the money. In extensive studies in the U.S., equitable compensation is ranked number 6 in the 10 things most people want from their jobs. What’s no 1? Yep, recognition for a job well done! It’s not just salary increases or bonuses; find other ways to recognize good performance.
5. Have fairness in remuneration
Employees love recognition for their work. They also like to see salary increases for contributing employees. One of the most significant causes of employee negativity occurs when employees believe poor contributors received raises – especially when their own raise was below their expectations.
6. Take interest in employee development
Both for them and your company’s interest, invest in training. It does pay off. Any company of a size larger than 20-30 employees should have some form of a People Plan. It should include standardized job descriptions and annual performance reviews, and as they get larger, Succession Planning, HIPO, Mentoring, Recognition Scheme, 360 or Multi-Rater feedback.
Ultimately, it’s your management and leadership that sets the tone and cultivates the environment to keep people looking forward to every day they spend at at work!