Addressing Attitude Problems in Human Resources

Employee attitude problems are based on organizational or personal factors, meaning behaviors can come from employees’ discontent with the organization or because of conflict between employees themselves or with supervisors. When human resources staff know the root cause of employee attitudes, they can address and resolve workplace problems effectively.

Redefining Attitude

Human resources can assist supervisors and managers with correcting the behaviors caused by poor workplace attitude. Assessing an employee’s attitude requires subjective measurements that are likely to be inaccurate. Supervisors and HR can more accurately identify behaviors — such as insubordination, tardiness, lack of productivity and inappropriate communication. HR should encourage line supervisors and managers to focus on behaviors instead of attitudes when they counsel employees and administer disciplinary action only for behavior, not attitude.

Job Satisfaction

Absenteeism, tardiness, workplace conflict and insubordination often signal poor job satisfaction. Measuring job satisfaction is best done via an employee opinion survey, which can shed light on organizational factors that influence employee behaviors. Surveys that guarantee anonymity give employees a voice without fear of retribution for providing candid answers about workplace issues they perceive are causing their dissatisfaction. Surveys can focus on specific issues, such as compensation, benefits or effective leadership, or they can consist of questions about general workplace issues.

Also Read: HRCI Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR)

The key to effective survey administration is developing a series of questions that elicit valuable information in as little time as necessary. Lengthy surveys are time-consuming, employees often question their usefulness and they are difficult to analyze because they contain so many responses on different topics.

Individual Employee Attitudes

Rushing to judgment about an individual employee’s attitude won’t lead to answers that can help resolve that employee’s behavior. Supervisors who write up employees because they have attitude problems cannot reasonably justify the disciplinary action because poor attitude is a subjective and sometimes biased observation. HR should provide supervisors with leadership training that encourages communication as one of the tools to strengthen workplace relationships. Once supervisor-employee communication improves, supervisors then can provide their direct reports with constructive feedback on performance areas that need improvement rather than simply disciplining an employee for having a bad attitude.

Workplace Policies

Your organization’s code of conduct and workplace policies codify behaviors that are acceptable and unacceptable. They also justify HR and department leaders’ actions in managing employees, from discipline to termination. Employees should have current handbooks, and HR should collect signed acknowledgements affirming that every employee has read and understands the company’s policies. Questions about workplace rules and guidelines should be directed to the HR department.


HR plays an integral role in resolving workplace disputes that arise out of personal differences. The emphasis should be on behaviors rather than attitude because correcting behavior is far easier than measuring improvement from a overly subjective assessment of an employee’s or supervisor’s attitude. In these cases, HR acts as a mediator to achieve mutually agreeable resolutions for workplace conflict.

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