Persistent negativity is a common problem for many workplaces. It can seriously affect employee morale and really is one of the most damaging things that can happen within an office. If you have experienced negativity in the workplace, you will know that it drains energy, hampers teamwork and creates a toxic environment.

As a manager or human resources professional, it is often your responsibility to prevent and curtail workplace negativity. If you want to make sure that your people are productive and engaged, you are going to want to read on – here are some strategies to help you tackle negativity.

1. Prevention is better than cure

Ensure that your people have opportunities to express their opinions about workplace policies and procedures. They should have the ability to make decisions about their own role. Often, workplace negativity can be traced back to a manager making a decision about a person’s work without consulting them. If you do need to make a decision which impacts somebody else, speak with them and provide context. Ultimately, your people will perform better if you empower them.

2. Find the cause

Before casting blame, you should try to understand the root causes of any existing negativity. For example, an individual may be dealing with a demanding situation at home such as bereavement, divorce or illness (mental or physical). People in this situation should be helped, not punished. Pointing the finger will only exasperate the problem. It is a good idea to have an open-door policy with your people, so they know that they are free to speak to you any time they have an issue that needs addressing.

3. Focus on solutions

If there doesn’t appear to be a legitimate reason for an individual’s negative attitude, then it is time to take some action. Take them to one side and discuss the impact their negativity is having on others in the team. Be careful not to be too negative in your own approach. Focussing on everything that the individual is doing wrong will only cause more problems. Instead, think about what options there are to help the individual create positive morale for themselves. Let them know what they are doing well and what you appreciate about their performance.