How can I Determine the Attitude in the Workplace?

Mary Elizabeth

A person’s attitude is his or her ways of thinking and underlying assumptions. Attitude in the workplace is a factor in productivity, just as skills are. In fact, at least one survey has shown that a majority of organizations rank attitude in the workplace as being of greater concern than skills and competencies. For an employer, keeping an eye on attitudes in the workplace — both before and after hiring — can assist in decisions on choices to make in terms of benefits, compensation, and other workplace features to help a company be more productive, and not having this information makes it difficult to align decisions with employee preferences. There are several methods available to assess attitude in the workplace.

Body language can tell a lot about a person's attitude.
Body language can tell a lot about a person's attitude.

The standard way to assess attitude in the workplace is to use a survey instrument, and it’s important to know that while some surveys are concerned with attitude in the workplace in general, a survey can be specially conceived to address a particular question that relates to employee attitudes. Tracking employee attitudes over time is the best way to have a sense of the interaction between the circumstances of employment and attitude. It’s also important for surveys to evolve as the organization evolves. Another approach is to use existing data on file in the company’s human resources files, including performance reviews, perhaps along with a survey. Informal assessment of attitudes also contributes to obtaining a full picture of employee attitudes.

Performance reviews can be compared with workplace morale to see if a business's outlook is affecting the attitudes of its employees.
Performance reviews can be compared with workplace morale to see if a business's outlook is affecting the attitudes of its employees.

To determine the attitude in your workplace, you might follow these steps. First, determine what aspect of employee attitude you want to know about, for example, the response to a change in the telephone system, whether it would be significantly beneficial to add another personal day, or the general, overall attitude towards management. Second, look at information about existing attitude instruments, and ask your human resources team for recommendations. Third, search for an existing instrument, hire a consultant to construct one, or speak to your human resources department about developing an in-house tool.

Finally, prepare your employees prior to administering a survey for the first time. Let employees know what benefits or positive outcomes you hope to derive from this added task. Make arrangements so that the information gathering doesn’t interfere with their work or unnecessarily burden them with its length.

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Discussion Comments


@Iluviaporos - Sometimes you are coming into a new workplace and you need to test the waters though. I find that having outsiders come in can be a good move, but maybe not just to talk to the people at work. Employee attitude is easy to see if you spend some time with them. If there is a lot of passive aggressive sniping, or people are silent and tense you can tell something needs to change.

Figuring out what needs to change is another matter, but I don't think that surveys will necessarily reveal that anyway.


@umbra21 - One of the places i used to work would actually get managers to swap around when doing this kind of evaluation, so that employees wouldn't feel intimidated. Honestly, I liked my boss anyway, and felt like I was happy to go to him with problems, so it actually made it more difficult to talk about workplace conflicts and stress when they made us do it with a manager from another department.

Personally, I think that it's best if a manager is just really good at keeping tabs on the attitudes of his or her employees and has their trust rather than making it a formal inquiry. I mean, if someone has a negative attitude it generally becomes fairly obvious fairly quickly to everyone.


I would say, above all, don't make them feel like they are having a performance exam. If you put that kind of pressure on them, it's just going to make them feel like they have to lie or exaggerate in order to give you the answers you're hoping for.

If you aren't sure that you can make them feel like they can truly speak their minds, then maybe try allowing them to respond to an anonymous survey. Don't just put numbers or check-boxes on the survey either, give them areas they can fill out with their own words.

If this isn't done right, it might as well not be done at all. Negative attitudes in the workplace are not something that people are going to want to admit to their boss, especially if their boss is one source of the problem.

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