10 Tips To Tackle A Toxic Work Environment
Workplace culture has drastically changed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Lockdowns, travel bans, and the new normal of hybrid work have changed how we work and interact. As the dynamics of the workplace continue to modernize rapidly, the importance of a healthy workplace to boost employees' productivity and engagement has never been greater. A toxic workplace manifests negativity among co-workers. There is no sense of harmony in the workplace. The employees do not have a voice to appeal for change. The superiors are oblivious to their employees ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. The employees are in a constant state of fear of failure because of the lack of positive feedback they receive from managers. Employees suffering from anxiety and depression may decide to leave their stressful workplace when their suffering persists. As a result, these organizations experience high employee turnover and a large number of resignations. Because employees feel that they are working in a toxic environment. As per the research of the American Psychological Association, toxic workplaces are unpleasant to deal with, unhealthy for the employees and have been on the rise.
Another survey conducted by SHRM in 2019, found that organizations with toxic cultures lose millions in turnover and employee absenteeism. The study also revealed that discrimination and harassment in the workplace as common signs of toxic workplace culture. A toxic work environment also limits employee productivity. It erodes into the lives of all the employees, leading to an overall fall in the levels of happiness and a decrease in employee engagement. Often, the toxicity of a work environment is unpretentious enough to go unnoticed. Thus, employees must be able to identify some signs that may indicate a toxic workplace, if they last over time.
In this article, we will explain the signs of a toxic work culture and top tips that employees can use to survive. Now, let's take a look at the signs of a toxic work environment.
Signs That You Are In A Toxic Work Environment
- Poor Communication
Communication is a vital aspect of the smooth working of the office. This includes the much-needed skills of listening, verbal communication and written communication. A toxic workplace experiences several communication issues. There is an overall lack of communication in the office and a constant lack of coherence regarding projects. The means of communication are rather passive-aggressive, and various employees always hear different messages or various derivations of the messages. Listening is a lacking skill, whether it be on behalf of managers, or the employees, and “off-hours” communication, the process of sending emails and official communication outside working hours, is extremely prevalent.
Decisions in a toxic environment are made solely by the leaders and managers, with little to no input from the employees. The managers fail to understand the needs and preferences of their workers and do not make any attempt to understand them. The disclosure of one’s opinions is not well-received, and the employees must resort to bottling up their feelings.
Employees from remote locations suffer many of the same problems. They often do not receive accurate information regarding meetings and plans. There are multiple communication chains that they belong to, sending contrasting information. Due to the time difference, they are also sometimes forced to handle off-hours communication and calls at odd times.
- Unmotivated Employees
Employees in a toxic workplace are never enthusiastic or excited to be there. The gloomy atmosphere around the office and the apathy of the employees creates a vicious cycle, where the subdued aura in the workplace leads to a lack of enticement for the employees and this lack of interest, in turn, fuels negativity in the office and brings down the productivity of everyone around.
- Excessive Workplace Gossip/ Drama
As reported by Monitor, in a Social Interaction Study conducted in a US company, more than 96% of respondents admitted to partaking in workplace gossip. However, if this workplace drama is carried to extreme degrees, then it can manifest a sense of maliciousness around the office, which can lead to burnout, anxiety and aggression. This can also be seen in the prevalence of cliques in the workplace. These cliques are exclusive groups that befriend each other and generally make everybody else feel secluded.
- Fear of Failure
Research by TemPay states that around 28% employees say that making a mistake is their biggest workplace fear. If the environment around you punishes even the smallest mistakes, then it is only natural for employees to have a fear of failure. It prevents them from stepping out of their comfort zones and achieving better things for the company.
- Poor Leadership
The behaviour of the leaders and managers at a corporation sets the tone for the attitude of the workplace as a whole. It is the leader’s responsibility to ensure that the employees are happy and satisfied and working towards their maximum potential.
- Excessive Turnover
It is common to see a large number of employees prioritize their mental well-being and leave the job that causes them so many problems. If you see many people around you leave due to the same troubles you are facing, it is highly probable that the root cause lies at the office and not the employees themselves.
Read More: 10 Top Tips To Reduce Employee Turnover At Workplace
If any of these warning signs sound familiar, it's time for you to start looking for a more wholesome place to work. Now that you have a better understanding of the signs of a toxic workplace, let’s look at the top tips that could help you to deal with such an environment.
Top Tips To Deal With A Toxic Work Environment
- Maintain Transparency
The most important method to tackle toxicity is to maintain an open, ready-to-work mindset which encourages others to work with you. It helps people communicate efficiently and ensures a boost in productivity.
- Higher Employee Involvement
Ensuring a greater degree of employee involvement in decision-making ensures that employees feel like they are being heard. It encourages them to voice their opinions and voice their problems with the atmosphere at the workplace. Their inputs could help the leadership view the problem from a different angle, and amplify the problem-solving process.
- Recognize Best Performers
The managers at the workplace need to recognize and reward the best employees. It is often observed that people respond and give more effort to tasks that interest them and also provide instant feedback and reward. This incentivizes the workers to cooperate, work harder, and maximize productivity at the firm.
- Manager Training
It is critical to ensure that the managers at the workplace have adequate knowledge and abilities to handle situations of toxicity in the office. The employees need a manager they can turn to when in need and one whom they respect and are ready to collaborate with. Training the managers to cultivate these qualities could go a long way in resolving toxicity in the workplace.
- Prioritize Work-Life Balance
One of the best ways to deal with the stress and anxiety of a toxic workplace is to engage in activities outside of work. It is crucial for the worries and stress at work not to leak out to other aspects of life. Every employee needs to maintain a good balance between work and personal life to ensure that they do not feel overwhelmed and can deal with the toxicity effectively. Employees can learn new hobbies, join a dancing class, and get together with friends and family to remind themselves that life isn't just about work.
- Approach HR With Your Issue
It is highly encouraged for every employee to reach out to HR in case they are struggling with their environment or co-workers. HR consists of trained professionals who may help you come up with a solution to these issues without having to leave the company or the office.
- Adopt A Positive Mindset & Focus On Self-Improvement
In negative surroundings, maintaining a positive attitude might be incredibly difficult, but it could serve as an effective method to block out the issues around us and focus on ourselves and our work. In this type of environment, it is best to just work to get better ourselves every day and maintain a pattern of improvement. If we are able to focus on self-improvement without looking for feedback or rewards, it will ensure personal growth within the company as well as an overall increase in the firm’s output.
- Encourage Teamwork
A toxic workplace can be created when a workforce is less collaborative and more individualistic. On the other hand, by fostering a culture of collaboration, everyone starts to view successes as group efforts rather than individual ones. To promote teamwork, allow employees to freely express themselves, establish realistic goals, correct their errors, share in rewards, and enjoy a joyful environment.
- Take Regular Breaks
Finally, it is important to make sure that, whether at home or at work, we take regular breaks to allow our minds to reset and re-engage with the work we have.
- Look For A Better Option
Despite your best efforts, if you feel you cannot survive in a toxic workplace culture, it's best to start looking for new company that prioritize employee-first culture. No job is worth sacrificing your mental health by working in a poisonous environment for an extended period of time.
Needless to say, a toxic workplace is more than just a bad day. If your employees find themselves unmotivated to go to work every day, meagerly interested in what they’re doing and afraid to fail or express themselves, chances are your workplace has a toxic atmosphere. This can lead to a steep decline in employee productivity, along with an extreme lack of ideation within the employee.