Not all negativity in the workplace is a bad sign. Common sense says employees who describe their workplace in negative terms are the ones that are more likely to leave it, but new research shows this isn’t the case.
The study identified some forms of negativity are benign and can be tolerated, whereas others are loud and clear warning signs in terms of employee retention. Study participants were asked to describe their past experiences with the organisations they had worked for, both good and bad.
Three forms of negativity predicted that employees will have a greater intention to leave an organisation one year later: disappointment, strong negativity (such as anger or ridicule) and indirect negativity (like focusing on the negatives in a positive story). Other forms of negativity, like complaints, entitlement and even despair, did not.
The method used in this study was adapted from a method that successfully predicts divorce. Reports on this method show that it predicts divorce with over 80%, and sometimes over 90% accuracy. Anyone who ever tried to systematically predict human behaviour knows this kind of success is very rare.
After more than three decades of research, the divorce prediction method is so refined, that its developer says that he can predict a divorce of a couple based on listening to the first three minutes of an argument.