Positive Employees Pay Off

Positive Employees Pay Off

06/14/16 Laura Gibbons

Positivity is one of those soft skills that is hard to measure. Have you or do you know anyone who has put, “I’m a positive employee,” on their resume? Well, maybe it is not a bad idea.

Sigal Barsade, a Wharton management professor who studies the influence of emotions in the workplace reported that, “emotions travel from person to person like a virus” and suggests that emotions determine what happens in an organization, specifically related to job performance.1

Just as positivity can be contagious, negativity can be just as contagious, but with bigger losses.

Studies have shown that positive employees are actually more productive. Why? Because positive employees:
• Don’t engage in gossip or negative talk of co-workers or the organization;
• Encourage creativity and are open to ideas;
• Know how to collaborate well with others;
• Process information more effectively;
• Communicate well even in stressful or difficult situations;
• Support other colleagues; and
• Maintain a better work/life balance.

Essentially, positive employees put their energy into their job, not negativity.

Negative people can make a significant impact on the workplace as well. They tend to:
• Increase the overall stress in the workplace;
• Complicate decision-making;
• Criticize and blame others;
• Impact the success of teams;
• Are problem-oriented rather than solutions-oriented;
• Cause co-workers to shut down or disengage;
• Deliver poor customer service;
• And even worse – cause good people to leave.

Negativity that spreads can lead to big losses for an organization, including:
• A decreasing bottom line due to declining productivity;
• Less satisfied customers or loss of customers;
• Increase in turnover causing increased costs of hiring and retraining;
• Decrease in morale due to employee dissatisfaction; and
• A culture where people do not want to work.

Organizations need to always be assessing their culture, their leaders, and their employees. A few ways to try to promote positive employees and culture, include:
• Identifying who or what is causing negativity;
• Offering trainings that help employees better manage stress, focus on positive attitudes, build emotional intelligence, get along with co-workers, and become more effective supervisors;
• When hiring employees, posing questions to candidates and their references regarding how an individual responds to negative situations and how they present a positive attitude and contribute to a positive culture;
• Rewarding individuals for their positivity;
• Not accepting or overlooking negative attitudes, even if these employees are producing. Not only does avoidance send a bad message to positive employees, but you are failing to consider the overall financial impact of the negativity; and
• Asking for regular feedback from employees.

It is important not to underestimate the value of positive employees and the harm negative ones can do to your organization. Ultimately, positive employees pay off and make a difference to your bottom line.

1 Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (April 18, 2007). Managing Emotions in the Workplace: Do Positive and Negative Attitudes Drive Performance? Retrieved from http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu

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