We all want our employees to have a good attitude. We do much to encourage that. We pay as much as we can, offer as many benefits as possible, bear with them when they "can't make it in today,” make sure they get plenty of breaks and generally try to be good employers.
But sometimes an employee's attitude just goes south. It may be that they have problems in their lives we cannot help them with and that are too overwhelming for them to leave them at the door when they get to work. Once this happens, there at least a million ways in which this one person's negativity can adversely affect the entire shop.
I used to feel somewhat responsible for these emotional downturns. I would spend many hours that I really did not have, trying to help the person lift their spirits. Ultimately I realized that there was little I could do.
In the end, I decided to be a bit less forgiving. I would simply take the person aside and very honestly tell them that their attitude was causing a problem and if they could not figure out a way to correct it, I was going to have to let them go. If they genuinely seemed to want to do something about the issues, I would try to work with them but I would make it clear that they were on probation and that, if there was not significant improvement, their employment would be terminated.
Unfortunately, this rarely produced a positive effect. More often than not, the effect was just the opposite and ultimately, I would end up letting them go simply to remove the negative influence from the shop.