In the ideal world, bosses would never be cranky, employees would never let their personal lives affect their work performance, and co-workers would never be anything but sunny and cheerful. But if you've ever actually worked a job, you know these scenarios are far from reality. In the workplace, people often deal with a combination of work and personal stresses that can contribute to bad moods all around. While you may not be able to control all of it, there are steps you can take to manage moodiness around the workplace, whether you're the boss or a concerned co-worker.
Support employees in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. In one study, two business professors found that the mood that employees come in with is often the mood that sticks around the entire day. If you come to work in a good mood, even stressful situations at work shouldn't do much to affect your mood. Likewise, bad moods at the start of the day were likely to stay that way. With this in mind, it's important to recognize that stressors such as family drama or a killer commute may be affecting your entire workplace.
Find ways to support workers off-site, such as providing carpool options to reduce commuting stress, having an employee assistance program to help workers deal with at-home stress, and offering free gym memberships to help workers stay in shape and produce those happy endorphins. If you're the employee and not the boss, join or form a "work-life balance committee" at your workplace to see that these things get done.
Check in with employees or co-workers to let them know you're thinking about them. When you see someone in a bad mood, ask if there's anything you can do to help, bring them their favorite sweet treat or buy them lunch. When someone knows that others notice their moody behavior, it may wake them up to the need for an attitude adjustment. They may also get a lift just from knowing someone cares about their well-being.
Encourage a chain of positive reinforcement. If you're the boss, make a point to say something positive about each employee at least once a week. If you're the employee, encourage your co-workers to use positive language when interacting with colleagues. Instead of punishing workers when they do something wrong, reward them when they do something right. By shifting the focus from a punishment model to a reward model, you can foster better moods overall.
Find ways to tune moodiness out. If you're constantly barraged by a moody co-worker, ask to be moved to a different part of the office, or wear headphones that make it hard for you to hear his moody conversations. If your boss is the moody one, accept that there may not be much you can do to change her and do what you can to avoid her during bad days. If things get really bad, consider looking for a new job.
Encourage healthy food and drink choices in the workplace. Many workers rely on the morning coffee or the afternoon sugary snack to get through the day, but these things may be doing more harm than good. Both substances can result in an intense "crash" when the effects wear off, which can lead to more moody behavior. While you can't force co-workers to quit caffeine or sugar, you can provide healthy snacks such as fresh fruits or low-sugar protein bars in your snack machine to make it easy for workers to access healthy options.
Encourage workers to get out and enjoy their break time. If workers stay at their desks the entire day, they won't get the break of sunshine and fresh air that could help jog them out of a bad mood. On top of that, physical activity -- in even small bursts -- helps keep workers healthier and happier overall.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.