How to deal with negative attitudes in the workplace


We all know THAT co-worker in the office. The one who’s always late, but complains about the tardiness of other employees. The one who has a bad attitude towards positive culture initiatives and doesn’t put in effort during special occasions. Or maybe even the one that doesn’t respect your space and constantly hounds you for work without paying attention to your workload. 

Ah yes, we all know that person. 

But do we know how to deal with that person? 

Oftentimes, we are surrounded by people who are truly positive and passionate about their jobs. And we don’t know about you, but every time we’re with someone like that, their attitude at work rubs off on the people around them. There’s just something about a can-do frame of mind that almost makes the workload lighter

The same can’t be said about employees or co-workers with bad attitudes. Even though you might be more pumped for work than them, their negativity can often suck up your joy. That often makes coming into the office kind of suck for you too. 

We have to remember the world is made of all kinds of people. It’s no surprise that even in the workplace, you can get a mixed bag of employees and workmates. But rather than seeing this as a setback, we have to look at it as an opportunity to grow and learn. In this article, Happy HR will cover how to address negative co-workers in the workplace and how to break through in a toxic environment. 

Why is Managing Attitudes Important in the Workplace?

A huge part of taking care of your employees in the workplace is managing expectations and attitudes. Quite often, these go hand in hand. 

An employee’s expectations can shape their poor attitude at work towards their role, colleagues, and the company as a whole. When these expectations are unrealistic or unmet, it can lead to dissatisfaction, frustration, and even resentment. This can influence their overall attitude and behaviour in the workplace.

So how can you spot an employee who has a less-than-perfect attitude and unreal expectations?  

Constant Complaints

An employee who frequently vocalises their grievances. Especially if they’re about matters that are considered standard or acceptable in the industry.

Rejection of Constructive Feedback

Employees who react defensively or dismissively to feedback might be expecting constant praise or are unwilling to accept that there’s room for improvement.

Lack of Flexibility

An inability to adapt to changes or always expecting things to go a certain way can be a sign of rigid and unrealistic expectations.

After using these points to scope out these employees, it’s just as important to address their grievances and try to see if they can be reasonable. It’s important to remember that your employees’ lives are affected not just by their workplace, but by their personal situations, too. It’s only fair for you to approach them with this in mind and be open to their points.

How Do I Address My Employees About Their Negativity?

Like ripples in a pond, negative attitudes in the workplace can quickly spread. When one employee exhibits a bad attitude, it can influence the mood, morale, and even productivity of those around them. 

Managing expectations and attitudes is a continuous process. By being proactive, communicative, and understanding, employers like you can foster a workplace where employees have realistic expectations. Here’s how you can address the issue as it unfolds: 

Open Dialogue

Initiate a conversation with the employee to understand their perspective. What are they expecting, and why? Are there gaps in their understanding or misconceptions about their role or the company?

Regular Check-ins

Managers should have periodic one-on-one meetings with their team members to discuss their progress, address concerns, and recalibrate expectations if needed.

Feedback Culture

Encourage a culture where feedback is constructive, regular, and two-way. This can help keep expectations aligned with reality.

Review Compensation and Benefits

While compensation shouldn’t be the sole motivator, it’s essential to ensure that your pay and benefits are appropriate for your industry and location. This can help in managing financial expectations.

Addressing the Elephant in the Room: Toxic Positivity

Promoting genuine positivity in the workplace is vital for fostering a healthy and productive environment. However, genuine positivity doesn’t mean suppressing negative emotions or brushing problems under the rug — that’s toxic positivity. 

To ensure that the promotion of positivity doesn’t border on toxicity, it’s essential to know that not every day will be perfect. Encouraging employees to voice their concerns and challenges by addressing them head-on ensures that issues aren’t ignored in the name of maintaining a “positive facade.”

Instead of dismissing negative emotions or concerns, offer support. Whether it’s providing resources, counselling, or simply an open ear, it’s crucial to make employees feel they’re in a safe space.

How Does Addressing Concerns by Negative Employees Help?

It’s all about creating an environment where employees feel heard, valued, and supported. Here’s how promoting positivity can help counteract negativity:

Attracts and Retains Talent

A workplace known for its positive culture is more likely to attract top talent and retain its existing workforce. People want to be part of organisations where they feel they can grow, be appreciated, and enjoy their work.

Boosts Morale and Job Satisfaction

Recognising and celebrating wins, no matter how big or small, can make employees feel valued and appreciated. When people know their contributions matter, they’re more likely to take pride in their work, leading to increased job satisfaction.

Enhances Productivity

A positive work environment can lead to increased motivation. When employees are happy and engaged, they tend to be more productive, creative, and willing to put in the necessary effort to achieve team goals.

Promoting genuine positivity in the workplace is not about turning a blind eye to challenges but about building a supportive environment where employees can thrive.

If you’re trying to address these challenges in the workplace in a streamlined way, let Happy HR help with that. Our performance management software helps keep track of all your employee’s workloads and KPIs, making those tough conversations a bit easier to understand. 

Address your HR issues with a market leader in processes, administration and administrative compliance. Experience Happy HR first-hand with one of our demos. Speak to one of our specialists today to find out how you can get started.