A toxic work culture refers to a company environment dominated by practices, policies, and management styles that perpetuate unhealthy habits and conflicts among team members. This can have a negative impact on employee wellbeing, productivity, and job satisfaction, preventing them from being able to grow professionally. A toxic environment can begin to form at any workplace no matter the industry. If the atmosphere is not inviting, if the workload is too much for an individual to complete on time and to a high standard and if the people do not build and maintain good working relationships then the decline can be very quick.
According to a 2022 MIT Sloan’s study, toxic workplace culture is the number one reason people cite for leaving their jobs. This type of work environment can be a breeding ground for negativity, stress, and conflict. If an employee continues to stay in an environment that is detrimental to their wellbeing, this can lead to numerous problems with their physical and mental health.
Signs of a Toxic Workplace Culture
A toxic workplace may lack clear goals or fail to communicate them effectively, leading to confusion and frustration among employees. Employees will then have difficulty understanding their career path and how to contribute to the company’s success, leading to a negative work atmosphere. Clear goals are essential for a healthy and productive work environment, when everyone understands the company’s objectives and their own role in achieving them, it can foster a sense of purpose and motivation. Researchers have found that setting goals can help employees feel a greater connection to the organisation. Not only does this contribute to increased optimism in the office, but it also encourages better employee performance.
According to research conducted by professors Christine Porath and Christine Pearson, hostility and rude behaviour managers exhibit make employees much less motivated. This can later lead to a fear of expressing themselves due to the backlash from other employees or supervisors. In fact, about 80% of the workers who experienced uncivil behaviour in the workplace spent their working hours worrying about the situation instead of working. This further leads to bottled-up frustrations that can cause a loss of focus, a drop in productivity and satisfaction in the short term, and mental and physical health worsening in the long term.
Toxic cultures often normalise and glory a lack of healthy boundaries and often don’t support work-life balance or rest. Studies have shown that insomnia, a symptom of depression, is directly correlated with workplace toxicity. Employees are made to feel as though sick days and holidays are a hindrance to the company’s progress, rather than an opportunity for them to recharge. As a result, overworking and burnout are extremely common among employees.
How to Reduce Toxic Workplace Culture
Given the potential risks of a toxic work environment, organisations should take steps to create a healthy and productive workplace for their employees. The leadership and management team are the ones who set the standard and cultivate culture. In order to repair a toxic workplace culture, leaders must first acknowledge the issues that are present and define how they negatively impact their work environment. By acknowledging toxic behaviours, leaders can take action to cultivate a greater understanding of what is appropriate and what won’t be tolerated.
The mistakes most leaders make is asking employees for open and honest feedback and doing nothing with the information. Statistics show that 98% of employees will fail to be engaged when managers give little or no feedback to their workers. Effective communication is key for better team collaboration and cooperation in the workplace and ultimately helps drive better results for individuals, teams, and organisations. It is important for companies to make sure to tend to their workers’ needs. Instead of pushing for a culture that leadership might think is effective, they should consult with employees to find out what their workplace is lacking. Organisations can further reduce toxic behaviour by making managers aware of the pain their behaviour causes on their team, along with the impact that abusive behaviour has on their own reputation.
Toxic workplace cultures are becoming more widespread as firms increase their demands. Organic marketing platform Conductor analysed Google search volume and found that searches for “toxic work environment quiz” increased 700% in April 2022 alone. It is important that your organisation encourages a system with an appropriate focus on employee wellbeing. Leaders are well-positioned to promote employee health and wellbeing. They can create psychological safe workplaces through allowing flexibility in how and where people work, implementing policies that support employee health, and providing resources for employees to access.
How can Wellity Support your Organisation?
Creating psychological safety is not a one size fits all, and organisations need to learn how to truly eliminate a toxic workplace culture in a way that makes a real impact on their employees.
A Wellity training session ‘Inclusive Leadership’ will empower attendees with the awareness and knowledge to cooperate and communicate with respect, embrace differences, address concerns in a constructive way and help build on a collaborative, respectful and harmonious work culture.
Envisaging what a positive and inclusive working environment looks like.
Understand the benefits of fostering a positive and inclusive working environment and working relationships.
For more information on other training titles we offer, contact the Wellity team on firstname.lastname@example.org.