A toxic work environment is a much bigger issue than it might seem at first. Regardless of how well-paid your employees are and how satisfied your clients may be, toxicity can cost your company dearly. According to Inc, 83% of employees won’t report a toxic work environment to their managers due to the fear of retaliation or loss of their jobs. This has led 29% of surveyed employees to leave their jobs, citing workplace conflict and toxicity as major contributing factors.
A recent Metro publication indicated that 70% of people have experienced a toxic workplace in some form during their career. Passive aggression, bullying, favoritism, and gossiping have all been cited as factors that have led people to either file formal complaints or look for new jobs elsewhere. Toxic coworker behavior must be addressed and amended before you start hemorrhaging talent. Let’s discuss managing toxic work environments and how you can use Jobs OneGlobe to create a more welcoming and collaborative workplace in 2022.
Understanding the Traits of a Toxic Work Environment
To start fixing a toxic workplace, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with what makes an environment toxic, to begin with. Many managers and employers fail to understand that their staff is demoralized until it’s too late to retain them. This is because many employees feel a disconnect between what they consider a healthy work environment and what managers consider to be an adequate status quo.
According to HR News, 56% of employees in the UK would leave their workplaces due to a toxic workplace driving them away despite liking their jobs. This puts into perspective the fact that employees will always prioritize their mental and physical wellbeing over the excessive and unrealistic needs or wants of their employers. Here are some of the most telling signs your work environment is toxic and needs to be fixed as soon as possible:
- Mutual disrespect and lack of communication between coworkers
- Highly-overworked staff that constantly works under stress
- Horizontal and vertical bullying of your staff, both top-down and mutual
- Poor management and handling of customers and clients
- Constant sabotaging and miscommunication of crucial information
- Poor inclusion and diversity within the company
- Unclear expectations and instructions for your employees
- Playing favorites and discriminating against certain staff members
You won’t have to look hard to realize that something is wrong with your office environment. Eliminating a toxic work environment is a team effort however and it cannot be done in a vacuum. You’ll need to work closely with your staff on ensuring that everyone can move forward and find a mutually-acceptable solution to the situation. Here’s how you can start working on it.
“When a workplace becomes toxic, its poison spreads beyond its walls and into the lives of its workers and their families.” ― Gary Chapman
1. Run an Employee Survey
The best way to start fixing a toxic work environment is to find out what caused it to manifest. A good way to do that is to run an employee survey and keep it anonymous. Anonymity will ensure that your staff feels safer expressing their discontent with certain aspects of your company, managers, workflow, etc.
Asking employees to state who they are front and center may cause retaliation to manifest in some aspects – you want to avoid that. Create an employee survey focusing on descriptive questions instead of Yes or No ones. This will give everyone ample opportunity to describe exactly what’s wrong with the company in their own words, allowing you to begin fixing what’s broken.
2. Find Out Who is Overworked and Why
Overworking your employees is never a good idea, no matter how short you are on staff or time. Employees who are working overtime or covering for multiple positions in your company should be compensated accordingly. If your employees are working overtime and are mismanaged, you need to find out why.
Don’t let employees leave your company because they’re dissatisfied with how they’re managed – instead, look for explanations as to why it’s happening. A toxic work environment where employees are leaving daily needs immediate attention from the decision-makers within the company. If you have to ask your employees to do jobs that are outside their legally-binding contracts, make sure that they’re okay with it and that they’re compensated for their efforts properly.
“Corporate culture matters. How management chooses to treat its people impacts everything for better or for worse.” – Simon Sinek
3. Stop Playing Favorites Within your Company
Depending on the size of your company, playing favorites will land you into hot waters sooner or later. You don’t want to prop up certain employees undeservingly and based on factors such as personal connections or nepotism. This can quickly lead to a toxic work environment where the person in question will assume a position of power toward the other employees. This can breed discontent, and poor morale, and lead to people leaving your company outright.
It’s never a good idea to play favorites if you want to create a healthy environment where people can feel like equals. Instead of doing favors to anyone, reward employees based on their performance and contributions. You should also only groom people for leadership positions once they’ve proven themselves, not based on gut feelings or favors you owe to someone. Others in your company are going to find out about it and you’ll have a difficult time steering the proverbial ship away from a toxic work environment.
4. Diversify your Hiring Strategy
Creating a more diverse and inclusive work environment will contribute to it being healthier and more positive in the long run. There are many ways to do this, including hiring international employees, people from minorities, or even fresh graduates looking for their first jobs.
You can also diversify your work environment by hiring people from different LGBTQ+ communities, people with disabilities, and other groups who would otherwise have a difficult time finding full-time employment. Of course, you should always take every job candidate’s CV and cover letter under consideration instead of opting for token hires. Token hires can contribute to a toxic work environment just like a lack of diversity in general could. Try to make your workforce as diverse and inclusive as possible and office toxicity shouldn’t be an issue for your company.
“If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” – J.K. Rowling
5. Invite a Neutral Third Party to Intervene
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your company is to invite a neutral party to help fix your toxic work environment. According to Forbes, toxic workplace cultures are 10 times more likely to drive away employees than any other negative action you could take against them. HR agencies, professional coaches, and retired experts with experience in managing teams or businesses can help make things better for you.
This is best done when you’re “too close” to the problem at hand. For example, when employees have a problem with you personally or want to take a more drastic approach to fix the toxic work environment. Working with a third party can help both you and your employees have your voices and concerns heard so that a mutually-beneficial solution can be found.
6. Recognize and Reward High-Performing Employees
A nice way to avoid a toxic work environment altogether is to treat your employees with care and professionalism. If your employees are outperforming the projections you’ve set up for them, why not reward them accordingly? You can create a rudimentary reward and recognition system within your company to highlight high-performing employees.
You can reward them with anything from monetary bonuses to free merchandise or paid courses which will help improve their skillsets further. Employees who are treated well will respond in kind and find ways to work with one another despite their apparent differences. Moreover, you won’t have to worry about a toxic work environment manifesting in your company anytime soon if you reward your employees for a job well done.
“People don’t leave jobs, they leave toxic work cultures.” – Dr. Amina Aitsi-Selmi
Building a Healthy Business with Jobs OneGlobe
The best way to deal with a toxic work environment is to do your best not to have one in the first place. According to recent reports, 40% of managers fail to engage their staff on the topics of healthy work environments. 25% of employees also feel unsafe voicing their concerns over these issues, fearing that someone might find out about it. If your employees feel this way, a toxic work environment has already found its way into your company and you need to fix it. You can use Jobs OneGlobe to build a healthy, welcoming office environment for everyone in your company.
Create job listings that accurately represent what you can offer to would-be employees and make sure to look for certain red flags during job interviews. Weigh the CVs and cover letters of individual candidates against the vibes and answers they gave you during an interview. It’s sometimes best to pass up an employee if their character traits don’t suit what you’re looking for. Make informed hiring decisions and a toxic work environment won’t be something to worry about.