Data from recent studies suggest that an alarming number of workplaces in both the US and UK are toxic. Findings from the American Working Conditions survey revealed that about one in five workers reported facing a hostile or threatening environment at work. In the UK, a report found that 34% of British employees quit when faced with a toxic workplace culture. Employees working in a toxic workplace are more likely to take sick days, become disengaged, be less productive, and suffer from health issues. Find out who and what causes a toxic work environment and how it affects both your workforce and your business. Learn to recognize the signs of a toxic workplace and what your firm can do to positively change employee behavior and organizational culture.

Who is responsible for office toxicity?

Individuals at any level of your company can be responsible for creating a toxic work environment. That includes business leaders, executives, managers, and lower-level employees. For example, maybe employees gossip about coworkers or use peer pressure to make them feel bad about their performance. Employees could feel resentment about being overworked. Managers may be suffering from a lack of credibility or provide irregular feedback to employees. Other behaviors that create a toxic workplace include negativity, distrust, bullying, and resistance to change. However, the heart of the issue often stems from a lack of leadership at the top.

What creates a toxic workplace?

Organizations that haven’t created or clearly communicated values are contributing to a toxic workplace culture. Poor policies or procedures can create confusion and resentment. Additionally, poor communication can cause mistrust—whether it’s a lack of communication from leadership or gossip among coworkers. A toxic work environment thrives in conditions that are unhealthy or damaging to employees; think overwork, stress, office politics, harassment, and bullying situations. Organizations should look out for signs of a toxic culture including negative online reviews of the company, attitudes of entitlement by employees, unwillingness to pitch in or change, rampant gossip, or blaming others for mistakes.

Five ways to change a toxic workplace

Once you recognize the signs of a toxic workplace, it’s important to take action right away to rid your organization of its ills. Here are five best practices to follow when removing the toxicity from your workplace culture:

1. Acknowledge the problem

Once you spot the problem, be open and honest with your workforce. Identify the problem or issues and let employees know that you will be working with them to remedy your work environment.

2. Be specific about expectations

It’s also important to clearly define the toxic behaviors that are negatively impacting your organization and why they need to go. Clearly communicate your expectations for change. For example, explain that your organization will not tolerate gossiping or ostracizing a coworker, and spell out any consequences for ignoring the policy.

3. Recognize and reward achievements

Sometimes a toxic workplace culture is exacerbated when employees feel overworked and underappreciated. Research shows that when employees are recognized for their accomplishments, it increases productivity, loyalty, and engagement. Be sure to offer opportunity and career mobility so employees don’t feel stuck or helpless.

4. Focus on work/life balance

If employees are overworked and stressed, it is most likely affecting their health and personal life. Offer a comprehensive wellness program and encourage employees to prioritize their health and take time for friends and family. These changes can help prevent feelings of resentment and result in higher levels of job satisfaction.

5. Build an inclusive culture

Don’t allow favoritism and politics to rule your workplace. Instead, provide opportunities to strengthen team unity and encourage positive working relationships throughout your organization.

Make positive changes to workplace culture

To boost employee productivity and relieve stress, take steps now to root out toxic behaviors from your workplace. Asure Software’s outsourced HR services assist you through the entire employee lifecycle—from finding the right people to managing their performance.

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