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3 Steps For Dealing With Negative Employee Attitudes In Senior Care

April 20, 2018 | Peter Corless

Three steps for negative employee attitudes in senior careNo one said working in long-term care and senior living was easy. Sometimes personal or work-related factors can influence an employee’s attitude, leading him or her to come off as negative or disgruntled.

These employees may have a detrimental effect on the workplace -- reducing morale and negating your efforts to ensure staff members are satisfied and engaged. Not to mention, your residents can sense a negative attitude, which can cause an increase in complaints and poor customer reviews.

That’s why it’s important for management to remedy the situation as soon as possible – and to do so in a manner that is effective without being abrasive and dismissive. Here are 3 best practices for dealing with negative attitudes in senior care.

Step 1: Have A Conversation To Assess The Problem

Managers should get to the root of the problem by scheduling a sit-down conversation with the individual. Start by informing the employee that the reason for the meeting is his or her inappropriate behavior and that you fear it’s negatively affecting the workplace culture.

Next, attempt to get to the root of the problem. Remember that you can’t see attitude.  You see the negative behavior – from which you infer a negative attitude – but don’t jump to the conclusions about the reason behind it. Instead, ask the reason behind the negative behavior that you’ve described. Is the person dealing with something personal? Or, is there an underlying workplace issue?

Managers and HR should reinforce a worker’s positive qualities to build her or his confidence during this step to let them know they are valued and you want to help get them back on track.

Step 2: Work With The Employee To Develop A Plan Of Action

Once everything has been laid out on the table, the next step involves working with the employee to determine how to create positive experiences in the workplace.

Managers should work with the employee to help build a plan to be more mindful of their mood at work – and how it manifests itself in the form of negative behaviors. Such a plan may include the following action items:

  • A temporary reduction in work duties
  • Time off to gather thoughts
  • Providing additional help while on duty
  • Company support, even outside of work

An action plan for working with these individuals should follow the same blueprint as a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). Managers should set a date for when an employee needs to demonstrate behavioral progress. They’ll also want to hold regular check ins to gauge progress.

Pulse surveys are an excellent tool for measuring staff satisfaction. A quick and simple message, like “how was your day?” will help uncover any issues that continue to persist or arise after the conversation.

Step 3: If Progressive Discipline Fails, Wish Them Well & Move On

Ideally, working with an employee on an action plan will wield the positive results. However, this isn’t always achievable. Some employees will continue displaying negative behaviors, which indicates that they are not a good culture fit for your organization. If no progress is made toward improving, management should document their efforts through PIPs and ultimately part ways with the employee before he or she continues to affect workplace morale.

While companies strive to create fun and welcoming workplaces, not every employee will return the favor. Some employees respond well to interventions and adjust their behavior, and unfortunately, others don’t. Either way, companies should do their best to cultivate a culture of positivity. Not doing so can have a negative impact on employee morale, as well as resident satisfaction and care.


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About Peter Corless

Peter Corless is Executive Vice President of Enterprise Development for OnShift. Peter is a recognized HR leader in post-acute care and is well-known for his achievements at some of the country’s largest post-acute care organizations, including Kindred Healthcare and Genesis HealthCare. As an experienced, chief administrative and human resources officer within these organizations, he developed strategies that reduced turnover, improved recruiting and hiring strategies, and reduced labor costs.

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