If you were asked to identify the moaner in your workplace, you could probably point the finger quite quickly.

Every organisation has at least one person who complains about everything. It’s too hot. Their workload is too intense. Their colleague is always off sick and they constantly have to pick up their work. Their manager is being too hard on them. A client is getting on their nerves. There is no milk left in the fridge.

This type of behaviour can have a negative impact on others and create a poor working environment, so it needs to be addressed. But as expected, dealing with a moaner is notoriously difficult for employers and HR managers. Is it just a moan or actually a grievance? When should you step in? What can you do to alleviate the situation?

Here are some key things employers should do to manager moaners:

Lead by example

If you don’t want your employees to moan, make sure your managers are not constantly whingeing. Their bad attitude can rub off on employees. They should also be following the same values and acting in line with expected behaviours.

Line managers are an important part of making sure that employees are engaged and motivated. They should encourage teamwork, positive attitudes and open discussions if there are points of contention or concern.    

Try to deal with the issue informally

When dealing with a moaner, sit down with the employee and talk to them in a calm manner about those issues that they persistently moan about and explore ways to improve the situation. Simple and practical measures may actually stop the moaning, for example, if they are complaining that their hard work is not being recognised, think about ways to do this. For example, if they hit all their targets during the week, can they leave a little earlier on Fridays?

Alert them to the negative impact they are having on others and the working environment. Sometimes they may not realise how their attitude is coming across and its impact. This can often act as awake up call and rein in excessive moaning in the future. 

You can also refer them to your Employee Handbook, which should include your company’s values. You should remind them of their importance and how everyone is expected to follow them to create a good workplace for all and a good environment for clients.  

You can also remind that if they do have a complaint that they want to raise formally, you should refer them to your formal grievance procedure.

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Train your managers

Your managers should know how to conduct awkward conversations. It is not always easy to call people out for bad behaviour, but by addressing it early on, managers can prevent it snowballing and becoming an issue that takes lots of time and money to sort out.

Sometimes the informal approach won’t work and you will need to take further action. You can get advice on how to deal with your specific challenge by contacting your Employment Law Adviser.

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