Got (workplace) Drama? It’s OK – You’re not alone.

Well, the old saying that ‘misery loves company’ has never been truer than it is today. Our organizations are distracted from traditional objectives like productivity numbers, strategic goals, providing great service and hitting revenue targets by an overwhelming amount of unrest and disengagement from our employees. High rates of absenteeism, push back on workplace policies and expectations, short fuses when it comes to collaboration and getting along with co-workers, disagreements about political views and national news trends … These issues are prohibiting our organizations from achieving their optimal rate of success. So, what’s driving this undercurrent of negativity and combativeness? A recent survey from Gallup may offer the beginnings of an explanation.

In an article published last month, Gallup’s survey revealed that for just the third time in more than twenty years, less than half of Americans say that they are ‘very satisfied’ with the way things are going in their personal lives. The data comes from Gallup’s January 2024 Mood of the Nation poll that also finds American’s views about the national economy are largely negative. When the ‘mood’ of more than half the nation shifts in such a major way, these attitudes and sentiments are bound to find their way into our workplaces. And let’s be honest, since the pandemic, workers across the spectrum and from every generation have been rethinking the way work fits into their lives. Caitlin Duffy, a research director at Gartner, aptly called it ‘the great reflection’. And boy is she right. So what can we do as employers to engage our employees and meet them where they are? The Great Place to Work Institute surveyed over 1.3 million employees at more than 2,400 US companies and determined that when it comes to employee retention and candidate attraction, there are three things that matter to people more than anything else about their job:

  • Purpose – They want to feel connected to the mission and be fairly treated by everyone
  • Pride – They want to feel like they are part of a team, that they belong and fit in
  • Fun – They want to have some fun and enjoyment in their job and within a team 

While it may sound simple at first, taking steps to help your employees feel a sense of purpose, pride and fun can be pretty daunting. A great start is to examine HOW you communicate with your employees. Do they know and understand the mission of the organization and more specifically, how their role fits into that mission? I’ve never heard anyone – ever – complain that their manager or their organization over communicates to them what’s happening with business results, goals and achievements. Find frequent and creative ways to talk with your team about what’s happening. And that includes when the news isn’t great. Trust is a key factor in keeping your teams engaged and we need to share both the good and the bad news, along with our plan to turn things around.

Pride and fun can be magical when they team up! Are you celebrating all your successes, big or small? Have you created ways for your employees to recognize one another for a job well done or support to a staff member or team? A key ingredient in achieving team building and creating more fun in your workplaces is your people leader staff. You MUST make sure that everyone in a management or supervisory role – at every level in your organization – is equipped with the skills to get this job done. The competencies to lead people today are vastly different than they were pre-pandemic. We live in a different world, one that requires balancing empathy with accountability using enhanced communications skills. To create a successful workplace culture today, we must have leaders that understand how to have courageous, calm and transparent communication with their staff.  

Finally – we should be reviewing our policies around workplace respect and tolerance. When drama does come forward in our organizations, we need to rely on our policies to quickly deal with the situation and prevent further escalations. As always, if you need support on anything discussed in this article, our team is happy to help you! Please reach out and we can talk.

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