How to Deal with an Angry Workforce?

August 27, 20158:03 am1339 views

In an ideal world, employees would know how to effectively manage their emotions, finding a release for their frustration outside of working hours. Most of the time emotions are fleeting and dissipate after a short period of time, however sometimes they can escalate due to a failure to resolve the issues that caused them.

Angry employees aren’t always pleasant to deal with, but a skilled manager or supervisor should be calm and able to turn things around. There are different types of anger/conflict situations that managers have to deal with most often, and each situation is unique.

You should know that an anger that is expressed can be dealt with, rather than those that go unexpressed by employees for long, leading to disgruntled behaviour at work.

Anger is a destructive force that will impact organisation’s success if not deal timely and appropriately to allow leeway for activities such as back stabbing, rumour spreading, poor performance and uncooperativeness at work.

While angry employees are looking at situation on hand to be addressed immediately and effectively, they are also seeking something else as equally important. They want to be heard. If HR manager doesn’t provide them with means to be heard, then these workforces go ahead and display anger in more subversive ways.

This is where the levels of anger employees demonstrate can reach dangerous levels, causing not only tension amongst the workforce, but potentially leading to negative legal consequences if the behaviour continues.

See: 10 Ways to Manage Disgruntled Staffs

According to a recent study by Peninsula Group on anger management, it found that 86% of workers regularly vent anger at a co-worker. 74% claim their manager regularly makes them angry. However 79% of bosses are unsure on how to deal with employees’ anger management issues.

David Price, managing director of Health Assured, the Health and Wellbeing consultancy says, “An angry workforce will do little to help employee productivity or boost morale so employers have to manage the situation. Taking charge and control of emotions, particularly feelings of anger is easier said than done. Whilst we like to present ourselves as highly adaptable and functional beings, we are all human and thus emotional responses to unexpected or stressful events are natural.”

“What is unacceptable, regardless of the reason, are acts of verbal or physical aggression in the workplace. Unfortunately, it would appear that aggression in the workplace is still a prominent issue. Employers need to be fully aware of any aggressive behaviour taking place in their organisation and take immediate action to tackle it and prevent further instances.”

Tips to deal with Angry Workforce

  1. When an employee expresses anger, listen to them and deal with it calmly by allowing room for discussion to sort the issues that bother them the most at work.
  2. Certain situations demand private discussions as some people might be unwilling to air their feelings at a public group discussion or meeting. One of the techniques HR managers could follow to deal with angry employees is to ask them if they would like to talk about it now or in private.
  3. Always allow the employee to express themselves fully and vent out their frustrations at work. Listen to them carefully and do not interrupt. If they are hesitant to talk, use a more concerned and defensive tone to ask polite questions such as: “You seem upset, is everything alright?”
  4. Respond to the employee’s feelings first and do not focus on the issue underlying the feelings at this sensitive moments. Use empathy effectively with active listening.
  5. If employee’s perceptions and your views on the situation seem to contradict, make the employee understand why you see things in a different light. Your job here is to not prove the employee wrong (even if they are) and reduce the angry levels of employee to not impact productivity.

When we envision a working environment, it engenders an image of professionalism, where colleagues work cohesively together to achieve goals and targets. Whilst for the most part this may be true, personality clashes and stressful work environments can have a negative effect on personal wellbeing, particularly our emotional health.

It seems that employees are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their composure at work, demonstrating bouts of physical or verbal aggression, or being victims of aggressive abuse themselves.

Price added: “Despite employers often finding it difficult to deal with an angry employee, they need to take note that aggression in the workplace will not take care of itself. They should ensure that their management teams understand how to deal with aggressive behaviour in the workplace, by monitoring their workforce and having policies in place that make employees aware of the consequences of participating in aggressive activity.”

Prevention is the key; employers need to establish open channels of communication so that employees can air their grievances before they reach critical levels, allowing them to move forward and create a more productive work environment.

Also read: How to Manage 5 Toughest Personalities at Work

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