It is important for employers to acknowledge that they have a duty of care to all their employees. A negative employee can have a detrimental effect on the workforce and may begin to spread a feeling of discontent throughout the rest of your staff. Therefore, such behaviour should not go unchecked by the employer because this employee is clearly giving your other staff something to complain about. Having a process dealing with employee relations and behaviour is pivotal for the success and best interests of the whole business.

You need to have a word with the employee to discuss matters. Most employee issues like this can be resolved with a simple informal conversation. Negativity can stem from a lack of communication between employer and employees – if employees do not feel that their opinions are sought or acknowledged they can begin to lose enthusiasm, quite often leading to resentment and negativity. If you give the employee an opportunity to speak to you, even just in the forum of a casual conversation, he is more likely to feel listened to and involved.

In the first instance, there is no need for any formal action so whilst you should make time and arrangements for a conversation to take place in a private area, your meeting will be informal. It should not take the form of a disciplinary hearing, even though you know he is having a detrimental effect on your business. At this stage, you are simply trying to find out what specifically is bothering the employee.

A key point here is your approach to the meeting, and your behaviour during the meeting. You should remain impartial, supportive and attentive. If you are negative in response to what the employee has to say, or take an accusatory stance this will only serve to compound the employee’s existing feelings of demotivation and there will be no progression. You should make sure you give the employee the chance to explain the particular issues he has rather than simply pay lip service to them.

You should also not assume that the employee does not have any valid points as the basis of his negativity. He may well have good cause for moaning about particular events at work, or the way that he has been treated so you must keep an open mind. Make sure you take a pen and paper into the meeting so that you can take notes of any action that you may need to take afterwards.

Has the employee been denied a bonus that the other members of staff have received because he did not meet the eligibility criteria? Or has he been denied an annual leave request because his department are already at the lowest minimum capacity for that day? Simple gripes such as these can fester with an employee, giving him ample opportunity to have a moan. In this situation, you would need to reinforce the reasons why the employee has been treated in the way he has, and point out that he has not been singled out for this treatment.

After the meeting, you then need to decide how to progress further. If valid points have been made, you should look to resolve these issues. If you don’t feel that there is any substance to the employee’s general moans, you should make it clear to him that his behaviour is affecting the other members of staff and that you are not prepared to accept further instances.

You should use this episode to review the channels of communication that exist between you and your staff. If employees don’t feel that they have any method by which to raise concerns and be listened to, their problems are likely to fester, leading to lack of drive and motivation.

For any further information, please call our 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2772