Role of HR in Minimizing Workplace Negativity

Workplace negativity has been prevalent and COVID-19 made it worse. It is important to identify that and improve the environment. A positive workplace gives way to a happier, more dedicated, and more productive workforce, so any negativity that is growing in the organization must be realized and curbed as soon as possible.




Unstop Igniters Glim

2 years ago | 4 min read

The roles and responsibilities of a Human Resource Department are much more than the usually perceived activities like recruitment, payroll, etc. The HR in any organization drives and affects the workplace culture heavily, which is directly related to the productivity and efficiency of the employees of the organization (Cherian, et al., 2021). The culture of the organization, policies with respect to the employees, inter-employee relations, etc. can lead an organization to either set a negative tone or a positive ring to the name of the organization.

What leads to Workplace Negativity?

Every organization and its way of working, culture, employee relations, etc are different depending on the size, type, industry, etc of the organization. So, what leads to the development of workplace negativity largely depends on the kind of workplace, but still, some causes are commonly responsible for the same.

Firstly, the most commonly seen cause is the workload. Particularly in organizations with a lesser workforce, employees tend to feel burdened with work. This not only affects their quality of work but also makes them struggle to develop a work-life balance, which can further make them feel overwhelmed.

Secondly, employees might have concerns about the leadership of the organization or the way of functioning which can create workplace negativity. While not all leadership concerns are factually valid, employee perception can impact a work environment.

Thirdly, lack of recognition. Negativity can often grow when employees don’t feel valued or recognized, even more, when their counterpart is being recognized while they aren’t after doing applause-worthy work. This can also strain employee relations.

Lastly, another common driver of workplace negativity is boredom. An employee would lose interest if the work assigned is monotonous and doesn’t utilize their talents and competence.

The aforementioned are common drivers of workplace negativity but the list isn’t exhaustive. Business is dynamic and so is the environment associated with it. Thus, there canbe many more factors that can lead to the growth of workplace negativity.

Did COVID-19 make it worse?

The year 2020 brought with it the COVID-19 pandemic which took the world by storm and no aspect of life was spared. The workplace was no other. Many organizations struggled to shift to a completely online mode. As difficult as it was, it was successfully adapted. But what we missed thinking about was, what will it be like to get back to normal. A usual workplace was prone to negativity but a post-pandemic workplace was far more predisposed to negativity.

The pandemic already deteriorated employee performance significantly (Farooq & Sultana, 2021). And when they were getting comfortable with all the adaptations they had to make, it was time to return to a hybrid model if not completely offline. This impacted their mental health as well as their efficiency and productivity.

Image 1 shows the impact of returning to on-site work

How can an HR department help?

A workplace environment is of more importance than we would anticipate. It can directly affect the performance of the employees which can in turn affect the profit margins of the organization. And since an environment would not be one size fits all, the initial step of HR must include actively investigating and finding the root cause of workplace negativity so that a proper and fair outcome can be achieved (Bagga, 2013).

HR should take responsibility for ensuring that the workforce is healthy and happy. This can be done by implementing a few work-life initiatives like Mental Health Days, flexible workhours, wellness programs, etc. It should be made sure that no employee feels overwhelmed or burdened from work and shouldn’t be forced to work till burnout.

To avoid any sort of miscommunication between employees and leadership, HR should consider genuinely listening to concerns, feedback, and even rumors to learn what concerns the employees have and make sure to find the most feasible ways to address those.

In order to foster a positive work environment, it is vital that each employee feels valued and appreciated. Meaningful recognition goes a long way and serves as a great source of motivation for the employees. Salary increases are one way to recognize and reward performance in a workplace, so HR can consider establishing a merit-based review process to determine raises. Apart from this, other recognition programs like employee of the month, peer recognition portals to thank a co-worker, etc. can be of help.

Workplace boredom can also affect a positive work environment and allow for negativity to build. To tackle this, HR should encourage managers to review their teams to make sure people are working on projects and tasks that best serve their talents and time. Also, establishing a strong career development and internal promotion system can provide a direction to employees towards personal growth and development. A mentorship program under a more experienced peer can also encourage employees to take guidance on how to better carve their paths in the organization.

At all times, there should be an active communication path between HR and employees so that they are more accessible and any concern can come to light without many delays. Lastly, it is important to evaluate the outcome of each implementation regularly to see if there are any modifications required to make it more efficient.

A positive workplace gives way to a happier, more dedicated, and more productive workforce, so any negativity that is growing in the organization must be realized and curbed as soon as possible.


Anonymous. (2021, September 2). 6 Causes of Employee Negativity and How to Overcome Them. Indeed. Retrieved from:

Bagga, G. (2013). Positive steps to end negativity in the workplace: The hidden costs of an individual and organizational phenomenon. Human Resource Management International Digest.

Coe, E., Cordina, J., et al. (2021, July 15). Returning to Work: Keys toa psychologically safer workplace. McKinsey & Company. Retrieved from:

Cherian, J., Gaikar, V., Paul, R., & Pech, R. (2021). Corporateculture and its impact on employees’ attitude, performance, productivity, andbehavior: An investigative analysis from selected organizations of the UnitedArab Emirates (UAE). Journal of Open Innovation: Technology, Market, and Complexity7(1), 45.

Farooq, R., & Sultana, A. (2021). The potential impact of theCOVID-19 pandemic on work from home and employee productivity. Measuring Business Excellence.


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