Negative Employees Might Surprise You

Are negative employees holding your business back or pulling it down? Do you even know if you have employees who feel strongly negative about their work?

The results of one survey of employees and HR execs might surprise you: More than half of surveyed employees felt negative, and a third of surveyed employees felt intensely negative.

Of employees who were intensely negative about their current job experience, 28 percent were actively looking for a new job or are poised to leave their current job when a new opportunity comes up. By contrast, among employees who felt strongly positive, just 6 percent were looking for a new job or are poised to leave.

What’s disturbing is that 25 percent of the intensely negative employees planned to remain with their current employers. This suggested the employer could have a large number of disaffected workers simply “hanging on” to their jobs and adversely affecting other employees — and customers — with their negative attitudes.

Leading causes of the high negativity among employees:

  • An excessive workload.
  • Employee concerns about management’s ability to successfully lead the company forward.
  • Anxiety about the future, particularly 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.
  • Concerns that pay isn’t commensurate with performance.

The study was done by human resource consultant Towers Perrin and its partner in the research, Gang & Gang. Results were issued in a report Working Today: Exploring Employees’ Emotional Connection to Their Jobs. The research was conducted via the Internet among a randomly selected group of 1,100 employees working for midsize to large employers in North America. A companion survey involved roughly 300 senior HR execs from similarly sized firms who described how they thought employees at their company felt about the current work experience.

The HR execs surveyed underestimated how important it was for employees to feel self-confidence in and from their work. They also underestimated the importance of professional development opportunities, challenging work, rewards and recognition in shaping positive emotion.

“If a company doesn’t understand the reasons for employee negativity, it may invest in some of the wrong programs — or fail to foster the kind of work environment that builds strong positive emotion,” said Donald Lowman, a managing director of Tower Perrin.

What to Do

Based on findings in the survey, if you want to decrease the negative attitude of employees toward their jobs and increase their positive attitudes, focus on these elements:

Sense of self-worth. Help employees feel confident, competent and in control of their work and work experience.

Results. Help employees feel they contribute to the success of the business.

Rewards and recognition. Help employees feel their contributions are appreciated, recognized and compensated.

One quick improvement to make for employees: Eliminate redundant tasks and work that doesn’t lead to meaningful results.

© 2017