Business Category Business: career motivation and tips to move ahead

Employee attitude problems

Employee attitude problems have a very negative impact on the work environment as well as your company's bottom line. Bad attitudes among employees may develop as a result of poor work conditions, lack of skills or feeling undervalued.

If you have an employee with an attitude problem, he may not work well with others, may show up late or may display other negative behaviours.

Employee attitude problems slow down performance and result in lower profits. Before you react by firing such an individual, consider talking to him first to discover the root of the problem.


If an employee does not feel she is a part of the team or doesn't fit in, she may have a negative attitude.

When a worker is not right for her particular job or lacks the skills necessary to perform well, her behaviour will suffer. Perhaps her attitude is a result of stress and she needs assistance with her workload. One of the most common causes of employee attitude problems is feeling unappreciated when hard work seems to go unnoticed.


An employee with an attitude problem may be careless, insensitive and inconsiderate of others. He may complain frequently, even inciting others to join in. You may notice a negative or cynical attitude, brusque, abrupt talk or inattention to his work.

One employee with a poor attitude may keep to himself and not speak to others, while another may have a problem with excessive socialising. If no disciplinary action is ever taken, you may discover the problem employee escalates to becoming downright rude, lazy and even more disruptive.


The negative effects of a problem employee are widespread. Not only are you losing productivity from the lazy or ineffectual worker, but you are also losing efficiency among the rest of the staff who have to take up the slack. The morale of the entire company may lower due to complaining or other rude behaviour.

Other workers may feel they have to walk on eggshells around the problem employee, or even go so far as to call in sick, request a transfer, or quit to avoid working with her. Clients or customers could end up requesting another employee to help them, or even take their business elsewhere.


Every business owner knows that it is important to establish trust and confidence with your customers. It is also equally important to cultivate trust with your employees.

Managers who inspire confidence in their staff right from the beginning avoid many common attitude problems. Employees who feel they can approach their employers with problems don't harbour resentment or complain of unfair treatment.

Watch for warning signs during the interview process.

Is the applicant respectful and polite?

Does he maintain proper posture and look you in the eye?

Is his language appropriate for the workplace? Recognising early signs of a poor attitude will prevent future problems.


Your first step is to discuss the attitude problem with the individual.

Before you schedule the meeting, identify what behaviours and problems you have noticed and the frequency that they occur. Make a note of how it affects others and production as a whole. List several good reasons why the noted behaviour must end, highlighting how changes will benefit everyone involved.

When you sit down with the employee to discuss his attitude, avoid being confrontational. Ask him if there is something you can do to help him enjoy his job. Try and determine what the root of the attitude problem is. Listen to what reasons the employee gives and respect his honesty.

Make it clear what behaviours are unacceptable, and what the result will be should they continue. Be straightforward, but not harsh or threatening.

Discuss specific solutions for the problems the employee shares with you. Document the conversation to use as reference if another meeting becomes necessary.