Workplace negativity might not be tangible, but it can be felt on physical, emotional, and mental levels. It can really take a bite out of organizational productivity—not to mention employee satisfaction and your own peace of mind. So, if you’ve got a workplace filled with negativity (or if you’re not sure but you know something needs to change), what do you do?
Workplace Negativity Sucks…
Have you ever felt drained after spending time with someone? Sometimes during the encounter, sometimes for hours or days afterwards.
The opposite as well? You feel on top of the world after spending time with someone?
Or how about the meeting that sucks! Literally, all the (positive) energy is sucked out of the room. You feel like you have to crawl out of the meeting, or if it is virtual, you go off camera and do anything else you can to salvage the day.
And then there’s the meeting where you feel you are part of the best team in the world. Everyone is laughing, coming up with great ideas, creating together.
What is the difference?
You guessed it: Energy!
Workplace energy is generated by the individual energy that each and every person, including you, brings to work, and has everything to do with workplace negativity (or positivity!).
Factors That Influence Workplace Negativity
Energy in the workplace is a subtle but powerful force that plays a big role in whether your workplace is negative or positive. It is a result of people’s personalities, communication styles, and perception of the world—and even small things like how their morning went.
Movies and stories are full of examples of this (think the dwarves from Snow White or the characters from Winnie the Pooh). Tigger, with his boundless positivity, can be jarring or inspiring to different characters; while Eeyore with his persistent negative view of things can be discouraging…or grounding. These iconic stories illustrate how powerful the energy is to those around us.
So energy is that intangible force that can knock us for a loop or fuel our greatest successes. As mentioned above, energy is generated (and influenced) by a myriad of factors, including:
- The power dynamics in the room
- Whether we feel safe with the people around us
- The existing relationships and how people feel about each other
- How much people trust each other
- How positive or negative people are in general
- Individual emotional responses to change
- Individual comfort levels with risk and being in a group setting
- How much is riding on the discussion
- The overall culture of the organization
- And more!
Creating an Alternative to Workplace Negativity
Trying to drive an organization to positive results without addressing negative workplace energy is like trying to drive a car without gas or charge.
When there is negative energy in the workplace, your employees are going to be miserable, hide from each other, attack each other, gossip about each other. It’s detrimental to the quality of work and even your team members’ quality of life.
In an environment filled with workplace negativity, you are going to struggle with employee retention, team collaboration, productivity, customer satisfaction, and sustainability.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
You can be a catalyst for changing the energy on your team and in your company. Like so many worthwhile endeavors, it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it! With a positive energy shift, you can create a culture of high collaboration, high trust, and high respect. You can have creative and safe conversations and develop a sense of community. With this kind of energy, teams come together and do awesome and phenomenal things together.
Energy Can Tank or Supercharge Your Workplace
In summary, here are the top three reasons why energy matters so much in the workplace:
- Energy affects productivity and results in a big way (not to mention it has an impact on your stress levels and satisfaction at work and, consequently, in your personal life).
- Energy affects employee satisfaction and retention. Your team won’t be motivated to stay in a workplace with negative energy.
- Energy affects motivation, creativity, and collaboration. Employees in a negative environment are not inspired to work hard or come up with solutions and great ideas together—so ultimately, the work product suffers.
When you consider the three points above, you’ll see that it is not an exaggeration to say that the fabric of an organizational culture is woven together by energy.
Workplace Negativity: You’ll Know It When You Feel It
What is the energy like at your workplace? You’ll know by what you see, hear, and experience. Take a look at the chart below which outlines the drastic differences between negative and positive energy at work.
Signs of Negative Energy in the Workplace (vs. Neutral and Positive)
When thinking about your workplace energy today, which resonates with you?
- We are doing great! I can start teaching other organizations how to amp up their positive energy!
- Umm…I think we are doing pretty good, but I would like to generate more positive energy and eliminate pockets of negativity.
- My workplace is in shambles. I’ve got to do something about this negative energy.
Regardless of whether you picked a, b, or c, congratulations are in order. If you are in great shape, kudos to you – keep it going! If you responded b or c, and would like to see your workplace energy shift, this is great too! Accepting that things can be better, and making a commitment to change them, are two giant steps in the positive energy direction.
So, where do you start? You start with yourself. Once you shift on an individual level, you can then inspire and empower your team to embrace and create positive energy. And then you can tackle the overall company culture together.
You don’t have to do it all at once. This is one step at a time, and it’s an ongoing process.
Are you ready to start with yourself, to take charge of your energy and start contributing positivity to your team? Then check out our next blog post!
At The Human Priority, we believe in high collaboration, high trust, high respect. We believe in creating workplaces where you can have co-conversations and a sense of community. This is what creates the Workplace Fairytale! This is where people come together and do awesome, great, phenomenal things together. We can help you accomplish this! Learn more about our business consulting services.