12 October 2023 |

all you need is positivity

By Hebba Youssef

✍🏽 How do you decrease negativity amongst staff?

Manager of a unit in an acute care setting in a hospital. My night shift staff have become negative and complaining about their jobs. I have improved their staffing, stand up for them, come in early and stay late to be available for them. I have rewarded and acknowledged good performance and behaviors. It seems the more I give/do for them the more negative and complaining they do.

📣 Cassidy Edwards, Director of People Operations at Tradeblock: 

Hi! 👋🏽
We hear you in the Safe Space community and know that this can be pretty frustrating.  First, know that you are doing good work and the fact that you care is very important.

There are a few ways I would reset to get to the root of the issue.

  • Is there any anonymous feedback systems in place?  This can include surveys and may help you narrow down a few patterns that may be happening in pockets of your team member population.  (i.e. burnout from night shift and could use a job rotation opportunity if applicable)
  • At times, employees that work in high-stress environments (Hi HR!) need a moment of rallying around the mission/vision/values.  I imagine that hospitals can also be very high stress each day and understanding what motivates people in your staff unit could be an unlock.
  • There may be a slump in how they view their own growth and development – which can create feelings of resentment or being stagnant in roles.  This wouldn’t mean that everyone is positioned for promotion, but could be an opportunity for upskilling in current roles, etc.
  • Since there is a large staff, focus groups may be a way to carve out patterns or see where pain points are under the surface of the current ways of working.  This is an opportunity to ask motivated employees what they like about working there as well.

While this can be tricky trying to uncover where + why this is happening, we commend you for trying to create a better culture.

In our tech space, user research is turned inward to employee research for the HR function. This is where we move along different parts of our product (the employee experience) to better identify when our users (employees) are caught in some type of friction.

You got this! 💪🏽

 📣 Jessie Fields, Director of Talent Development & DEI at C2FO: 

Sometimes people just gripe, which can make our jobs pretty disheartening (says a recovering peacemaker).

On the other hand, you might have some change champions in the mix who can turn their negativity and frustration into action. Try to find those people and ask them to get involved in making positive changes where possible.

✍🏽 If an organization’s top leader is toxic and creating a negative culture, what can HR do to help? If the HR department has no decision making power over this person, what can we do for the employees to help shift the culture?

I work for a publicly funded community college with ~200 employees.  The toxic leader in question is the Chancellor. No amount of feedback has gotten through to him so far regarding his behavior (micro-managing, gaslighting, and indecisiveness/flip flopping which causes delays to building processes)

📣 Jessie Fields, Director of Talent Development & DEI at C2FO: 

👀 Whew! That’s a toughie.

My mantra lately for me and my team has been “Focus on what is within our control.” If it’s outside of our sphere of influence, it’s not worth the emotional burden. (These are my hardcore boundaries talking.)

That doesn’t mean we don’t try. But when our consistent efforts don’t work, we need to shift our focus to what we can influence.

  • Listen to employees through surveys or listening groups
  • Lean on other members of the executive team who are champions of change and know how to help employees feel seen and heard
  • Build programs that don’t need the Chancellor’s oversight or approval

I think this only scratches the surface of a tough issue. And I feel for you and your HR team trying to mitigate the effects of this toxic behavior.