How bosses can help reduce employees’ bad days

Bad days at work are bound to happen, but there is something managers can do to ensure they occur less often. Your employees will thank you—and possibly work a little harder.

When was the last time you had a bad day at work?

A recent survey by the Danish firm Woohoo posed that question to employees worldwide. The survey defined a bad day as:

A day where [sic] you feel lousy on the job. You’re unhappy at work, and when you come home, you definitely don’t feel like having more of those days.

Because bad days are influenced by numerous factors both related and unrelated to the workplace, it’s not surprising that nearly all of us have had them. Only 8 percent of employees claim to never, or almost never, have experienced such a day.

Of the many factors that influence our workdays, which have the greatest effect?

What makes for a bad day at work?

Here are the top responses to the question, “Which workplace factors played a role in your most recent bad day at work?”

  1. A lack of help and support from my boss (40 percent)
  2. Negative co-workers (39 percent)
  3. Lack of praise or recognition for my work (37 percent)
  4. Uncertainty about the workplace’s vision and strategy (37 percent)
  5. Busyness/high work load (36 percent)

I’m not surprised by any of these factors.

  • Nos. 1 and 5 are closely related. Bosses who don’t lead, guide, coach or pitch in when the work gets overwhelming don’t deserve their title.
  • Nos. 3 and 4 are also intertwined. At its core, recognition conveys this crucial message: “I see you. The work you do makes a difference to how we achieve our mission and strategy.”
  • No. 2—co-worker negativity—is a miasma that permeates the atmosphere, bringing down everyone’s energy and making it difficult to pull together as a team.

The solution is to recognize great work. The ROI of reducing employees’ bad days is significant.

By helping employees balance their workloads and recognizing them when their efforts contribute to the company strategy and vision, bosses convey their support and help employees see the important impact they have on the organization’s success.

Learn the dos and don’ts of reaching millennial employees face to face and via email, video, your intranet and chat/text in this free guide.

Better yet, enable all employees to recognize and appreciate those they see doing great work. Recognition has as much of an effect on the giver as the receiver, and it’s a great way to overcome persistent negativity.

It would be unrealistic to think we could eliminate all bad days at work, but as responsible leaders we must acknowledge our role in reducing our direct reports’ bad days, as well as those of the people in our broader circle of influence.

An abundance of bad days hurts productivity.

As the Woohoo study points out:

Of course it should always be allowed for a person to have the occasional bad day at work. No one can be happy every single day and we can’t create perfect workplaces where everyone is ridiculously happy every day. But when workplaces cause their employees to have many bad days at work, it lowers productivity and customer satisfaction and increases absenteeism and employee turnover. In short, it costs a ton of money.

When was the last time you had a bad day at work? What caused that experience? What can you do to help alleviate your or your colleagues’ bad days?

This article originally appeared on the Compensation Café blog.

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