We’ve all experienced positive and negative feelings at work. Maybe you’ve dreaded sitting through a meeting with that one coworker who can’t seem to say anything nice about anyone. Or, you’ve been re-energized on a project when an encouraging colleague praised your hard work.
Work attitudes do more than brighten (or darken) your day at the office, though. They affect the entire workplace, impacting everything from morale to productivity to job satisfaction.
Understanding the factors that shape employee attitudes will help you provide a better working environment. The kind of healthy environment that helps employees flourish.
What we mean by work attitudes
Let’s start with a definition. When we talk about attitudes at work, we’re not talking about mood. Everyone has off days. And everyone has days that make them feel good about their jobs. Attitude goes beyond temporary frustrations and circumstances.
An attitude is a consistent way of viewing a situation. It’s a mindset that’s deeply rooted and persists over time.
Whatever side of the spectrum it takes, an employee’s attitude at work affects every aspect of their job. From job satisfaction to organizational commitment to how they treat their coworkers and customers. And when it spreads to those around them, the repercussions are significant.
How workplace attitudes affect your company
Both positive and negative attitudes affect an organization’s performance. Operations are not completely separate from employee feelings—especially when those feelings turn into actions.
Consider three key areas where attitude can make a big difference to the employee experience—and to your bottom line.
1. Performance and productivity
Employees with positive attitudes at work put their heart into their work and care about quality. They drive their own career goals, getting noticed and even tapped for promotions. And they act as cheerleaders for others, inspiring them to the same heights.
On the flip side, employees with negative outlooks weaken productivity. They spend energy complaining or gossiping. If they don’t feel their work makes a difference, they may become apathetic. If they’re concerned about unfairness, they’ll push back against difficult assignments and mistreat customers.
One or two pessimistic dispositions can create ripple effects that lead others to get lazy about hitting deadlines, spread rumors, or disregard customer service.
2. Employee retention
An optimistic environment where employees feel supported is crucial to retaining your top talent. Employees who are happy in their jobs and feel valued are far more likely to stay with a company than those who don’t.
But when employees see work as drudgery or as an unfair system where they just can’t get ahead, they’re not likely to stick around. And if negative attitudes at work go unchecked, you’ll incur all the costs of frequent turnover.
3. Customer satisfaction
Stellar customer service is a huge factor in building customer loyalty. Customers place a lot of value on their interactions with a company. An employee with a positive attitude will be helpful and handle communication with the care needed.
But when someone has negative feelings about their workplace, it’ll show in their interactions. And when customers experience bad attitudes while dealing with your company, chances are they won’t be returning.
Factors that impact employees’ attitudes at work
Workplace attitudes are shaped by many variables. Some are out of your control. Struggles at home and health or relationship issues may alter an individual’s view of life and people in general.
Nevertheless, there are factors in your control that have a disproportionately large impact on how people view their jobs.
- Job satisfaction. People need to feel like what they do matters. The type of input employees receive at work plays a big role in determining job satisfaction. For example, do they see the impact of their work? Do they get feedback on how to improve? Do they receive praise for a job well done? The answers to these kinds of questions directly influence positive or negative attitudes at work.
- Employer support. Employees who have opportunities for growth within a company tend to be more optimistic. When a company provides learning and development courses and supports goal setting and progress, people perform better. But it can be demoralizing if they don’t feel their employer is investing in their career.
- Workplace culture. Culture is a result of the behaviors that are modeled and tolerated around the office. A friendly manager who proactively offers support fosters a tone of support and productivity. But a bitter employee gossip session around the water cooler may communicate a hostile or dysfunctional workplace. Employees see work through the lens of your culture and form their attitudes accordingly.
The role of organizations in shaping work attitudes
Plan for positive attitudes at work by monitoring and influencing the factors that impact them. Take a proactive approach to measure work attitudes, get employees started on the right foot, and make corrections along the way.
The following steps can help you take control of your workplace health.
1. Offer learning and development opportunities
Feeling valued is a major factor in employees’ job satisfaction. One way to show them you’re invested in their success is to help them grow professionally. Offer training in skills or knowledge they’ll need to advance. Implement regular goal-setting and performance reviews to help them map their course within the company.
Employees who feel supported and have a clear path for development are happier in their jobs. And happy employees are more productive. And more prone to stay around.
2. Check your culture on a regular basis
The best way to keep informed of what’s going on with the office culture is to ask. Conduct periodic employee feedback surveys. Ask open-ended questions about their experiences or any concerns they may have.
When you find results that suggest people are less than optimistic about the company, look for the source. Are there unresolved conflicts on the team? Are company policies or processes making work harder? Once you know what’s at the root of the problem, you can begin to fix it.
3. Train leadership in people skills
Many companies provide some kind of leadership training to those at the top. But when it comes to a healthy work environment, leaders need more than technical know-how. Make sure they also understand the finer points of working with people.
Teach them to model healthy communication skills to resolve any issues. And instruct them on how to use praise effectively. Employees need to hear what’s going well as much as they need helpful corrections in their careers. When they know their good points are seen and appreciated, they’ll be more content with their jobs.
Commit to positivity
Healthy workplace attitudes aren’t just about productivity and company goals. People spend a big percent of their lives at work. Often they spend more time with their coworkers than they do with friends and family outside of work. They’re investing in you as much as you’re investing in them.
Planning for and providing a positive work environment is one way of ensuring you protect that investment. Take the steps to measure what’s going on in your workplace to create a place where employees thrive. And you’ll see the results in employee happiness and company growth.
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