When it comes to a toxic work environment, being able to identify toxic behavior is the first step towards transforming it into a more healthy workplace. We have provided a toxic workplace checklist to hopefully equip you with the information you need to identify and manage a toxic workplace culture.
A significant number of people leave their jobs because of a toxic environment. Needless to say, toxic workplaces can cost a business on numerous fronts, in terms of innovation, productivity, and revenue.
When discussing a toxic workplace we need to remember that poor leadership is not always the cause of toxic culture. Negative company culture is usually attributable to poor communication channels, underdeveloped processes, or lax procedures that are usually not directed at people, but rather at performance.
A toxic manager tends to believe that the only way to get results from workers is through stress. However, this kind of approach is simply an indication of a toxic boss who causes burnout and high turnover rates. There are ways in which toxic workplace behaviors can be addressed. This is usually done with the assistance of the HR department as it is key in sharing company culture. When a team works together toxic work environment traits can be addressed and at least minimized.
A workplace is toxic when negative behaviors are supported by the work environment – for example, manipulation, gaslighting, sexual harassment, bullying, etc. In practice, these things are far more difficult to identify as the signs might not be entirely clear. It is often hidden behind friendly banter and light hazing to draw attention away from the actual severity of the issue. As can be imagined, this kind of toxic work environment makes collaboration and teamwork almost impossible.
In a toxic workplace, employees are not able to work safely, report problems, or give an opinion. Even when there is no physical harm that is being done, the psychological safety of workers is compromised. The source of an unhealthy work environment can come from anywhere, it does not need poor leadership or bad managers, and even other employees can be responsible for a toxic office.
This is not the kind of thing that will sort itself out; fixing a hostile work environment needs to be a team effort that is led by human resources. Aside from direct support from the HR department such a venture also requires buy-in from leaders. Then the long process of getting rid of toxic influences needs to be undertaken meticulously.
Having a toxic workplace checklist helps human resources to identify and start working on a toxic workplace. Additionally, having a conflict resolution checklist can also be beneficial to work through unhealthy interpersonal relationships.
An initial step towards a positive workplace culture and healthy work environment is to have clear and concise policies and processes in place that address signs of a toxic workplace and provide guidance on how to ensure that a toxic person is not given the tools to perpetuate their negative influence. Hostility in the workplace needs to be addressed and managed so that it does not get out of hand.
A healthy workplace has the following traits:
Hiring processes that are in place should have contingencies built in to try and avoid hiring a bad manager or toxic employee.
Some of the skills and proficiencies that good managers tend to share are:
This list should clearly illustrate that good leaders act in the opposite way than those with a toxic culture. If you are a hiring manager who wants to avoid hiring toxic leaders, you can try to do the following during recruitment efforts:
Addressing signs of a toxic office is not a quick and easy process. It will take time and effort, but it is possible. Any negative work environment can be turned healthy with the right process and attention. As long as management and HR are truly concerned about the mental health and work-life balance of each and every employee there will be the hope of overturning a toxic workplace culture.
As we have seen, there are different things that can lead to a toxic workplace and human resources management can play an active and important role in workplace culture. HR is, in fact, the first and best response to signs of a toxic workplace.
Person-centered approaches to employee stress and the quest to create a healthy culture at work are the most effective. When employees have lower stress levels and do not work in fear of bad culture and poor communication they tend to adopt company forward attitudes and are more likely to learn new skills that can benefit their job and the organization as a whole.