Anger is a common emotion that usually accompanies embarrassment, hurt, stress and frustration. If dealt with promptly and effectively, anger is not a big problem. In fact, it can be a healthy sign of your sensitivity towards your surroundings and the ups and downs in life. However, if anger is experienced frequently, excessively, and cannot be controlled, it can be harmful.
Extreme anger in the workplace can be damaging to the mental and physical health of the employee experiencing it and can ruin the work environment. Whether this anger is in the form of passive aggression, violent outbursts, or an unpleasant attitude, effective measures must be taken by HR executives, managers, and the employees themselves to prevent negativity at work.
When an Angry Employee becomes a problem?
Anger amongst employees can be triggered due to many reasons, including a clash of personalities or an argument between coworkers, bullying, and unfair treatment among many others. Even if this anger is justified, it must be controlled and employees must find healthy ways of releasing their frustrations.
Angry employees can become a problem if they do not deal with their emotions properly, i.e., if they release their anger in ways that harm them and the people around them. This can happen if they start shouting at or abusing others, resort to dishonesty, adopt a condescending behavior or in the worst cases, become physically violent.
Many pieces of research and case studies suggest that anger issues in employees can bring harm to the organization that they are a part of. Excessive anger creates hostility in the workplace, disrupts relationships between colleagues, and makes it harder for the employees to cooperate with one another. It also impacts the morale of workers and distracts them from their work.
How to Identify Angry Employee Behavior?
Employees have different ways of expressing their anger in a work environment. While a few may experience severe anger outbursts and resort to violence and explicitly hostile behaviors, many employees use micro-aggression to release their frustration.
Listed below are some of the behaviors which you can identify to be able to deal with angry employees as a manager:
- Frequently taking off from work with no valid reason
- Passing sarcastic comments and mocking the work of other coworkers
- Adopting a condescending attitude towards others and treating them with disrespect
- Making a conscious effort to move forward and drag other people down
- Not willing to work in teams
- Shouting and swearing at coworkers
- Banging things such as keyboards on the desk
- Throwing things in frustration
- Physical violence, such as hitting coworkers
9 Ways to Deal with Angry Employees in the Workplace
Anger in the workplace can harm the mental and physical health of employees by causing stress, increased blood pressure, and headaches. It also harms the relationships among coworkers and lowers general morale, making the environment unhealthy and unproductive. As such, it is important to learn how to deal with angry employees:
- Allow Them to Vent
- Acknowledge Their Feelings, but Remind Them of Their Boundaries
- Show Empathy
- Take Action
- Don’t Overwork Them
- Reduce the Noise
- Arrange Seminars
- Arrange Destressing Activities and Lighten the Atmosphere
- Encourage Anger Management Lessons
1 – Allow Them to Vent
Employees often resort to aggressive behaviors when their frustration has built up and they can’t find a release or a solution to their problems. Therefore, it is important for managers to offer themselves as an outlet for employees to vent so that they can have a safe space to express their concerns without creating a scene in the workplace.
2 – Acknowledge Their Feelings, but Remind Them of Their Boundaries
Many employees have justified reasons to be upset at work. Some of the causes of anger could include, discrimination, bullying, or that have gotten into an argument. They may also be emotionally sensitive because of their backgrounds, cultures and personalities.
However, even if their reasons are valid, they may forget their boundaries and resort to outbursts of anger. It is in such cases that managers and HR executives must sit down with these employees, try to understand their situation and gently remind them not to exhibit inappropriate behavior by informing them of its consequences.
3 – Show Empathy
Being kind and showing empathy is the best way to handle an angry coworker It is important for HR executives and managers to try and understand an angry employee by looking at things from his/her perspective. This allows them to better connect with the employee and give him/her a suitable solution to their problem.
Moreover, empathizing with the employee and apologizing to them for what they are suffering through (even if it’s not your fault) makes them feel heard and understood, and helps calm them down. Kindness goes a long way, and it will also reap a lot of benefits for your workplace.
4 – Take Action
Another essential way to deal with angry employees is by listening to their concerns and making an active effort to solve their problems.
For example, if an employee is angry because of an unfair company policy, look into how it can be modified. Or, if he/she is being discriminated against because of his/her gender, race, religion, etc., hold the workers in the organization accountable. Managers and HR executives may even have to go to the extent of firing or demoting employees with problematic behavior to ensure a healthy work environment.
5 – Don’t Overwork Them
Anger is oftentimes a result of stress, and as an employee, extreme stress can be experienced due to the heavy workload. With tight schedules and deadlines looming over their heads, employees may get frustrated to the point where they just blow up in the workplace.
To prevent this from happening, it is important to keep a check on the amount of work assigned to them and make sure that office deadlines don’t start taking over their personal lives. One way to do this could be by giving employees only that amount of work that can be done within working hours.
6 – Reduce the Noise
Researchers suggest that noise levels have an impact on stress levels which in turn, result in anger. Office environments usually have a lot of noise, whether it’s from conversations, photocopiers or keyboards.
To prevent employees from getting affected by these sounds, it is necessary to encourage them to take breaks, get fresh air and spend some time out of the office. Moreover, photocopiers can be shifted to other locations and discussion rooms can be allotted for people who wish to talk.
7 – Arrange Seminars
Employees are often unaware of how their behavior affects the environment. Employees who treat others unfairly, discriminate on unjustified grounds and have an unpleasant attitude must be educated about how their behaviors are hurtful towards their coworkers.
Moreover, those employees who are the victims of such treatment and are prone to anger outbursts must be taught the right ways to deal with their concerns and how anger can harm the work environment. For such education, seminars must be held and all employees must be encouraged to attend them.
8 – Arrange Destressing Activities and Lighten the Atmosphere
Having fun is key to reducing stress and anger. Work environments can become dull and demotivating for employees, especially when they have loads of work to finish in a limited amount of time. The anxiety that builds up makes them sensitive to feelings of anger.
Thus, it is important for organizations to organize Destressing Activities for employees and encourage them to have fun. This can be done by providing recreational facilities within the workplace such as a game room where workers can go and reenergize themselves. HR teams and managers can also plan interactive games during breaks to build a healthy work environment.
9 – Encourage Anger Management Lessons
Sometimes, managers and HR executives are not able to understand the mental state that their employees are in. In such cases, where they need professionals to help deal with employee angry outbursts, they must encourage online anger management courses specially designed for working adults.
In these courses, expert counselors try to understand the situation of the employees and give them effective tips to manage their anger in the workplace.
Anger amongst employees can occur due to many reasons, such as unfair company policies, unjust treatment, an argument with coworkers, or stress. This anger can be released in the form of verbal and physical violence as well as micro aggressions.
Some micro aggressive expressions of anger in the workplace include sarcastic and condescending behavior, mockery and disrespect for coworkers. Anger issues amongst employees can be damaging to their own mental and physical health as they can lead to headaches, high blood pressure and anxiety.