Home » How to Deal with Negative Employees: A Comprehensive Guide to Manage Toxic Employees

How to Deal with Negative Employees: A Comprehensive Guide to Manage Toxic Employees

Dealing with negative employees can be challenging for any organization. Employees may develop negative attitudes over time that can harm the overall work environment. Their constant complaints, criticism of company policies, and co-worker tension can drain other employees and affect productivity. As an HR manager or business leader, it’s essential to identify and adequately manage toxic and adverse employees before they further impact the company culture.

This comprehensive guide will provide critical insights on spotting negative employees based on certain attitudes and negative behaviors. You’ll learn practical techniques to provide feedback, set expectations, and outline consequences to improve your conduct. We’ll also discuss when it makes sense to part ways with serial negative employees who show no signs of improvement. By implementing some of these best practices, you can mitigate the influence of negative employees and build a more positive work environment focused on productive collaboration.

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When Difficult Employees Met SwagMagic: A Turnaround Tale

It was an ordinary Tuesday morning at TechnoRealm Corp., but CEO Olivia Sanchez faced an ongoing issue: a faction of employees causing disruptions, hampering team dynamics, and putting projects at risk. The tricky part was these employees were incredibly talented, making the choice of simply letting them go not so straightforward.


Understanding Negative Employees: The Problems and Reasons

Before diving into solutions, it’s essential to understand the root causes behind the negativity.

  • Problems:
    • Decreased team morale
    • Lower productivity and efficiency
    • Increased turnover rate
    • Strained coworker relationships
  • Reasons:
    • Personal issues or stresses outside the workplace
    • Perceived injustices or unfair treatment within the company
    • Fear of changes or the unknown (e.g., layoffs, restructuring)
    • Burnout or overwhelming job responsibilities
    • Feeling undervalued or unrecognized for their contributions

Identifying the Core Issues at TechnoRealm Corp.

At a management meeting, Olivia and her team listed the challenges:

  • Decreased team morale: Negative employees led to a decline in overall morale.
  • Frequent project delays: Inter-team conflicts often resulted in missed deadlines.
  • Heightened turnover rate: Many positive employees felt overwhelmed and chose to leave.
  • Loss of creativity: The constant tension hampered the flow of new ideas.
Collage of negative emotions
negative emotions

Challenges of Addressing Workplace Negativity

Successfully addressing negative employees is not without challenges:

  • Misinterpretation: Differentiating between genuinely hostile employees and those having a bad day or week is essential.
  • Communication barriers: Fear of retribution or misunderstandings can make employees hesitant to express their concerns openly.
  • Company culture: Some organizations might inadvertently foster negativity by not promoting a positive and inclusive culture.

Practical Solutions to Deal With Negative Employees

Once the root causes and challenges are identified, it’s time to explore the solutions.

  • Showing Appreciation – Actively showing employees that their work is valued can be transformative:
    • Regular Feedback Sessions: Schedule regular one-on-one sessions to discuss strengths and areas of improvement and provide constructive feedback.
    • Employee of the Month: This traditional yet practical approach can motivate employees to work positively and productively.
  • Offering Thanks for Support – It’s often the small gestures that have the most profound impact:
    • Personalized Thank You Notes: A handwritten note recognizing an employee’s contribution can be a powerful motivator.
    • Public Acknowledgments: Celebrating an employee’s achievements in team meetings or company-wide emails boosts their morale and shows them that their work is essential.
Thank you
Thank you
  • Embracing Swag & Corporate Gifting – One can’t underestimate the power of a thoughtful gift:
    • Company SwagT-shirts, mugs, or other branded items make employees feel part of the team.
    • Gift Cards & Bonuses: These offer a tangible way of showing appreciation, especially for milestones or significant achievements.
    • Tailored Gifts: Recognize individual likes and dislikes. A book for an avid reader or a gourmet hamper for a foodie can be more impactful than generic gifts.

Upon hearing about TechnoRealm’s challenges, a colleague introduced Olivia to SwagMagic, specializing in custom and personalized swag, gift cards, promotional merchandise, and corporate gifting solutions.

Ways SwagMagic Stepped into Revamp TechnoRealm Corp.’s Atmosphere

Curate the perfect box of handpicked gift they’ll love and send joy their way

  • Personalized Gift Cards for Achievements: Recognizing employees’ contributions, these cards motivated them to bring their best selves to work.
  • Team Swag Kits: These kits fostered a sense of unity among the team members, even the difficult ones.
  • Quarterly Swag Store Access: Employees could choose their own gifts, making them feel valued and heard.
  • Surprise Desk Drops: Randomly placing custom merchandise on employees’ desks infused fun and surprise into their routine.
  • Milestone Celebrations: SwagMagic created custom gifts for employee anniversaries, emphasizing their importance to the company.
  • Event-specific Merchandise: SwagMagic supplied theme-based swag for team-building events, enhancing participation and enthusiasm.
  • Project Completion Bonuses: On successful project completion, teams received gift cards, boosting their motivation for the next venture.
  • Feedback Rewards: Offering swag for providing constructive feedback made employees feel their opinions were valued.
  • Birthday Recognition: A simple birthday gift card with snacks from the company made employees feel personally recognized.
  • Custom Branding: SwagMagic helped design merchandise that reflected TechnoRealm’s ethos, boosting brand loyalty internally.

The SwagMagic Turnaround: How Personalized Gifts Transformed TechnoRealm’s Work Culture

With SwagMagic’s intervention, TechnoRealm saw marked improvements:

  • Boosted Morale: The personalized touch in gifts made even the problematic employees soften and feel more connected.
  • Increased Productivity: As the team felt more valued, they started cooperating better, reducing project delays.
  • Reduced Turnover: The positive changes convinced some employees to reconsider their resignations.

Olivia’s Gratitude: A Closing Note

Months later, Olivia looked around her office, noting the laughter, collaboration, and positivity. SwagMagic hadn’t just offered merchandise; they provided tools to reconnect her team. With a smile, Olivia penned a heartfelt thank you note to SwagMagic, sealing it in an envelope with TechnoRealm’s custom logo, a testament to the harmony restored in her company.

Dealing with a negative staff member can be difficult, but there are effective ways to manage negatives and improve employee performance. When a team member exhibits a continual negative attitude, it drags down office morale and productivity. However, putting that employee on a performance improvement plan is key to properly managing the negative situation.

The plan should address the negative behaviours and outline clear expectations and consequences. With the right strategies in place to provide constructive feedback, the staff member has an opportunity to make positive changes. If the negativity persists and they continue acting in a negative way, more serious disciplinary action may be necessary, including termination.

Successfully dealing with negative employees requires understanding the reasons behind their attitudes. Sometimes, showing more appreciation and recognition can help turn things around. Other times, there may be external factors weighing on them. By adopting thoughtful solutions, managers can properly manage negatives before further impacting the team. The goal is to remove toxic behaviors, not punish people. With the proper management plan, most negative employees can improve.


  • Robbins, S. P. (2009). Organizational behavior. Pearson Prentice Hall.
  • Amabile, T. M., & Kramer, S. J. (2011). The progress principle: Using small wins to ignite joy, engagement, and creativity at work. Harvard Business Press.
  • Herzberg, F. (2003). One more time: How do you motivate employees? Harvard business review, 81(1), 87-96.
  • Collins, B. J., Burrus, C. J., & Meyer, R. D. (2014). Gender differences in the impact of leadership styles on subordinate embeddedness and job satisfaction. The Leadership Quarterly, 25(4), 660-671.

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