When the office vibe starts to dive, there's no telling what will happen.
All throughout the world, there are contentious political views, wars being fought and reasons for people to want to run home and never look back. This should not, however, be something that employees worry about at work. When cubicles become a war zone, productivity is the first thing to suffer. What's a business to do?
Instead of firing back, decision-makers should adjust their targets. Rather than blaming employees for a tense working atmosphere, consider the possibility that it might be something internal that runs deeper than the surface-level complaints. Long-standing combative issues, as well, could be partially to blame for any chilly Miley Cyrus/Sinead O'Connor type situations.
Whatever the case may be, nothing can be done until executives get to the bottom of the situation. Here are a few ways that HR teams can help squash employee angst for a happier, healthier 2014:
1. Learn what's behind the drama.
Although misbehaving in the workplace is a punishable offense, ongoing strife could indicate that there's something happening that runs deeper than passive aggressive emails. Now that the problem is noticed, managers should take every opportunity to collect data about the goings-on. Rather than focusing on complaints themselves, savvy decision-makers will instead listen to the conversations that are happening beyond the drama. Careful, however - peering too closely can reveal more information than is completely necessary to quashing the problem, and managers should strive to look at the big picture. The little details, however important, are secondary.
2. Become available and open to feedback.
Although individuals are often afraid to approach people with power, this is one way that companies can come closer to determining the problem at the source. Decision-makers who are generally cool, calm and collected are typically better suited to handle this role, and managers who have positions closer to the chaos should help carry out the strategy.
3. Consider the environment carefully.
The atmosphere in the workplace might be a big part of the problem. Celebrating open schedules and providing individuals with areas to unwind might sound good on paper, but make sure the space is separated from the rest of the office - no one likes to have their call interrupted by a rousing foosball game. On the flip side, if an office is too dull or restrictive, employees can feel trapped or worse, as if they are not welcome. If decision-makers sense that this is the case, they should consider brightening up the place with culture-positive decorations, festive plantlife or make steps toward adding a little Feng Shui. Anything to raise morale.
4. Engage the employees who are on their way out.
It's easy to spot a staff member who has had enough. His or her attitude that was once so chipper and proud is probably more like Taylor Swift after she was slammed by Kanye nowadays. Instead of letting the distance grow between the staff member and his or her connection with the workplace, use the data collected from the first step to learn more about the problem. Employees are human beings (even the robotic super stars in the office), and now and again, people are carrying around personal baggage that might be weighing them down. Managers should consider building outlets for times like these in the form of birthday celebrations, group get-togethers, company picnics - anything that can help make the office feel more organic. Little by little, the Taylor Swifts will come back around.
Keeping employees happy is the foundation of every successful business. There's nothing like walking into an office and seeing everyone with their heads down and their eyes on a screen to let managers know that something is amiss. Productivity is essential, but let's not forget the people who are doing their best to bring in revenue.