Do you know people who aren’t happy unless they’re miserable? What’s even worse is that those people often feel compelled to share their misery with everyone around them! So, how do you manage the employee who spreads such negativity around your workplace? The first step is to look inward. Have you done all you can to engage your employees? Engaged employees are emotionally committed to your organization, are self-motivated and give extra effort to contribute to the organization’s success. The benefits of having an engaged workforce (and by the way, only 27%-33% of employees are actively engaged) include: happier people, enhanced creativity, higher productivity, fewer mistakes, lower turnover, better sales and improved customer service.

So, what steps can you take to create this workplace nirvana? Initially, employers need to hire the right people. When you’re recruiting and interviewing candidates, be sure to communicate your cultural value of positivity and let them know that negativity isn’t tolerated. Ask behavioral questions to ensure the right “fit” within your organization.

Internally, leaders must work to create this culture of positivity (so you’re not deceiving those candidates mentioned above). In addition to your hiring process, you need to communicate your cultural values on your website and promotional materials, in your onboarding process, your employee handbook/policies, and even via your workplace conditions and decor. (Are your employee restrooms and cafeteria places that you wouldn’t want to show your customers? What message is that communicating to your employees?)

Remind employees and discuss positivity in your staff meetings and communications. And bring some fun into your workplace! Encourage employee potlucks and other social gatherings. Ask for opinions about what THEY think would improve morale and the organizational culture – and listen to the responses. Implement what you can. From a work/job perspective, make sure that employees have the tools and resources they need to do their jobs. Treat employees fairly and consistently. Keep them updated on the state of your organization and the industry. Help them understand the impact of any economic or regulatory changes.

Prepare for contingencies and be empathetic when outside factors impact your organization and your employees. Make sure that your managers are connecting with their employees and get to know them. As a employee, there’s nothing worse than working for a mean, uncaring manager. A large part of a manager’s job is to develop employees. We need to provide meaningful opportunities for the on-the-job and off-site learning and development, and use mistakes as learning opportunities – not a “gotcha” to the employee. Of course, managers also need to provide effective rewards and recognition to employees when they succeed in their jobs.

Remember, people like to be part of a winning team. There are some employees who just won’t come around. They truly are determined to make everyone around them miserable. If they “snuck past” your hiring process (or they’ve been there forever…), management needs to address the issue. Talk to them, train them, counsel them, discipline them, and, if necessary, fire them. (Again, be sure you’re treating everyone fairly and consistently.) The path to positivity is a journey, not a destination. You, as an employer, need to focus on the culture and the employees on an ongoing basis if you want to have – and retain – positive, happy employees.

by Candace Fisher, SPHR, SHRM-SCP Certified Coach
Director – Organizational Developement, Management Associates