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You may think that skills and experience are the most important characteristics of your employees, but attitude is just as important.  You may have great professional skills but it’s your attitude that sees it through. In the workplace, there are factors that constantly affect your employees’ attitude, and when they are affected, your business is too.

Large companies can afford to have an HR department that will manage these factors and keep employees satisfied and productive. But if your business is small, this responsibility falls on you and your managers.  By positively managing the workplace you can shape your employees’ attitudes and improve your company’s performance.

When employees have a negative attitude they are more likely to be disengaged, do their job with the least amount of effort and with little concern for the quality of their performance. Here are 4 areas of your company that is affected when an employee has a negative attitude.

Work Environment

Negativity in the workplace can make everything seem harder, decrease trust, block cooperation, decrease productivity and create a negative ripple throughout your employee team. The stress caused by a negative co-worker can affect individual employees, causing them to take more sick days or even decide to look for a different job, even if they enjoy the work they are doing.   

Employees with positive attitudes feel connected, committed and invested in the success of the company and are more productive than negative employees. A bad attitude coupled with a lack of concern for the company’s well-being is costly to a small business and should be taken seriously because those same employees can easily become more productive simply by changing their attitude. 


It is important for employees to have a helpful attitude at work while assisting customers or helping co-workers achieve your company goals. An employee with a negative attitude often focuses solely on what they have to accomplish to get by. They don’t have a broader perspective of what is going on around them and won’t notice when the printer ink is low or if they do, they won’t change it because it’s not their job. Not looking out for co-workers is inconsiderate and makes the other employees work harder and lowers the team morale.

The more helpful an employee is, the more likely they are to dive into every project with interest, willingly learn new skills, share ideas and work cohesively with other employees on projects and initiatives.    

Client Interaction

Attitude really is everything when it comes to customer satisfaction and directly affects your business.  An employee with a negative attitude may be disengaged from customers and view them as an annoyance, inconvenience and lack concern for their needs. They are less likely to solve problems, offer suggestions to the customer, keep the area clean or the inventory stocked.  When an employee has a positive and engaged attitude it’s likely the customer will be satisfied, tell others about your service and create loyalty to your business. 

Commitment to the Job

Small businesses that have negative employees have more to lose than a larger company because there are fewer people to balance out the negative. Poison seeping into a small pond is going to spread quicker than the same poison seeping into a large lake.  Small businesses need committed employees who are willing to do whatever it takes to fulfill the duties of their positions, help their co-workers and other departments and even develop new ideas to make the company better. When committed individuals work together as a team towards company goals, everyone benefits.

Employees with a positive attitude don’t shy away from trying something new or finding a different way to do things. Small businesses need employees who can think outside of the box and innovate new ways to accomplish existing tasks and approach goals. Employees with optimistic attitudes know their ideas might not work out, but at least it’s worth giving it a shot.

In conclusion, attitudes are contagious and so it starts with you.  Some people are naturally pessimistic but can still develop a positive attitude toward work if they are taught how. For example; teach your staff to approach every situation, positive or negative, as a puzzle instead of a problem.  Curiosity is peaked when a puzzle is presented, it doesn’t matter if it’s a jigsaw puzzle, crossword, Sudoku or Where’s Waldo, humans like puzzles and that’s all a problem is – something that needs to be solved.

Model the attitude of “curiosity,” and “we will figure this out,” vs. “not knowing is bad” or “problems are stressful,” and encourage your managers to build on it. Soon it will rub off on employees and create a positive, helpful and productive atmosphere. 

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