Workplace negativity can hurt employee morale and have a deep impact on performance within organisations. An environment that simmers with unresolved conflicts, and excessive politicking is often an ideal ground for workplace tensions. When ignored, these issues could cause catastrophic team situations, hurt organisational reputation and brand value in the market.
Truth be told, no organisation is immune from workplace tensions and conflicts. And HR leaders who are adept at driving workplace harmony know that the only way to drive a positive work environment is to cultivate proximity within the workforce, and foster a work culture that creates a sense of safety and openness amongst employees.
There are several ways that HR managers can drive safe and positive work environments, to influence workplace harmony. Here, we discuss some of the top strategies –
1. Open up communication
A key reason why tensions arise in the workplace is the lack of open and safe communication channels for employees. Employees may keep their thoughts and opinions to themselves because they fear that speaking openly about issues may invite unnecessary negative attention/ consequences upon them. As a result, valuable insights and ground level realities are lost to the organisation’s leadership. While employees could shy away from airing their views in open forums, they certainly open up a lot more in ‘one on one’ and team level communication settings. It is therefore useful to organise periodic meetings between employees and HR and line managers. Situations such as employee grievance meetings and exit interviews also offer a safe ground for employees to share their concerns and discuss ideas to combat workplace issues.
Given that today’s workforce increasingly consists of millenials who are social-tech savvy the use of mobile based chat tools and apps for communication and 360 degree appraisal systems help widen the channel for information and inputs. Analysing the thoughts and inputs shared drives a wider understanding on the underlying pattern and meanings to the information being generated.
2. Everyone wants to grow
Conflicts and negativity often arise between team members when competition is high and trust levels are low. Employees could feel insecure about their prospects for growth and believe that they may not have adequate power over decisions in heavily political situations.
Providing opportunities to employees for increased learning and collaborative efforts, through job rotations, lateral movements and certification programmes help employees gain wide ranging skills and offer them a sense of greater power and control over their career prospects. When they feel supported by their supervisors and HR managers in making career choices that are important to them, employees believe that the organisation has their best interest in mind, and are more receptive to organisational decisions. This helps minimise negativity and drives greater support and cooperation for work related goals.
3. Trust, transparency and fairness always count
While change is the only constant in today’s business context –it can often set off discontentment and unease within employee groups. Underground rumours of impending layoffs, pay cuts and deferred promotions can distract employees and make them feel anxious.
In such situations, it is important that leaders stay perceptive of employee needs and communicate with honesty and transparency to help employees feel secure and respected. Making information available to them and assuring them that they will be provided with more details, helps create an environment of trust and positivity. It also sets the ground for constructive conversations around potentially difficult issues such as pay cuts or downsizing and redeployment, and focus on actions that help secure the business. As employees feel convinced they are part of an organisation that embraces fairness and honesty, they stay respectful of the work culture and demonstrate increased cooperation and harmony.
4. Coach managers to be better leaders
It is common knowledge that employees relate to the organisation in the same way that they relate to their immediate manager – when they have a positive rapport with their manager, they also experience positive feelings towards the workplace.
It Is therefore vital that managers have the necessary skills to make their employees feel included, and respected for their contribution at work. Managers need to be coached to be better communicators, to equitably distribute and manage work between teams, provide the right context for communicating management decisions, empower employees to make quality choices, and demonstrate greater empathy and support for employee concerns.
5. Ensure recognition is about meaningful appreciation
Designing a reward and recognition system that is aligned with employees’ personal goals and aspirations is vital in ensuring workplace harmony. When employees feel their contribution is recognised inadequately or rewarded unfairly, they are likely to feel considerably demotivated and bring down energy levels across the organisation. Ensuring reward systems that are meaningful and tailored to support employee aspirations inspires confidence and trust, and is undoubtedly the key to a happy and positive workforce.