Most of us have stressful lives and intend to find a better work-life balance, but what happens when this stress comes from our work environment? Toxicity in the workplace can have a real impact on your employees’ health and on your business. Pressure, gossip, lack of trust, bullying, disconnection, micromanagement…These are all examples of behaviors that create negative feelings at work.
Do your workers request more recognition? How often do you ask your team members for feedback about how they feel about their work? Have any members of your staff experienced burnout? To prevent an unhealthy atmosphere from developing in your organization, you can use a toxic workplace checklist and share it with all your coworkers and leaders. A toxic work environment can come from various sources. Therefore, it is essential to understand what they are and know what to do to minimize them within your business.
Toxic work environment: definition and consequences
Definition of a toxic work environment
A toxic work environment is created when a number of organizational elements are poorly handled. You can determine toxicity in the workplace by looking at the company’s culture, the interactions between coworkers, the leadership style in place, the working conditions, etc. The causes of a toxic atmosphere vary, but there are often similarities.
If you are interested in knowing more about what causes a toxic work environment, we dedicated a full article to this topic. To create a positive workplace, it is fundamental to first understand which behaviors and actions are responsible for negativity at work. It helps avoid them and spot them as early as possible.
The impacts of toxicity in the workplace
It is unlikely that you will have a flourishing business while also having an unhappy workforce as your workers’ level of satisfaction influences many aspects of the organization. Understanding that employees are the backbone of a company is crucial to embracing the trends of the future of work and creating success. This is why you need to focus your efforts on creating a people-first work environment.
Not only does toxicity in the workplace increase chronic stress, the risk of burnout, and employee turnover, but it also decreases employee motivation, engagement, productivity, talent attraction, and workplace connection.
Fortunately, many businesses are starting to realize the importance of job satisfaction and employee well-being. Putting a toxic workplace checklist in place to analyze your work environment is a great start analyzing the atmosphere that prevails and making changes if needed. But what should you inspect?
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Toxic workplace checklist: the 6 main aspects to look into
1. Relationships at work
The presence of toxic relationships at work plays a major role in the atmosphere being created.. How can your workforce become a source of negativity? Behaviors such as gossiping, favoritism, or selfishness can strongly affect how your team members feel at work. Work relationships are part of workplace connection and can also trigger anxiety and impact the abilities of your staff in the long run.
2. Employees’ expectations match
Do you attempt to fulfill employees’ expectations? Ignoring your workers’ needs impacts every business both directly and indirectly. It is unlikely that people will stay at the company, even though you offer them a good salary. Regularly checking your employee satisfaction and continuously trying to improve your work environment is key to retaining your talent and attracting new ones.
3. Level of stress among your workforce
Does your workforce complain about unrealistic deadlines? Do they often share that they feel stressed and unhappy? Periods of stress happen in every job. However, as mentioned, it should only remain temporary and not become a constant feeling. Chronic stress is one of the main causes of employee burnout. Measuring the level of anxiety among your workforce and keeping it as low as possible is essential for maintaining a healthy work environment.
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4. Type of leadership in place
The way your employees feel toward their jobs and the organization is highly influenced by their relationship with their manager. What is considered a toxic leadership style? Which actions sustain a harmful work environment? Not having an employee-centric approach can easily create a negative work atmosphere. Micromanagement, lack of recognition, absence of trust, and vertical management are, among others, behaviors that breed a hostile organizational culture.
5. Health conditions of your coworkers
Are your team members getting sick more often than usual? A decline in the health of your employees can sometimes be a symptom of workplace burnout. Of course, you need to be careful when addressing your coworkers about this topic as the reasons might have nothing to do with their job. But it is also important to discuss it as a toxic environment and work depression directly affects your employees’ physical, emotional, and mental health. Keep in mind that building a trustful relationship is also paying attention to their health and well-being.
6. Communication and transparency
Can you imagine how frustrating it might feel to not know about the current projects taking place and goals being set when you are the one implementing them? Make sure transparency is one of your company’s values. Employees often feel left behind when they don’t know what is happening in the company. Transparent communication is key to maintaining a positive work culture and making your workers feel considered and valued.
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Toxicity in the workplace: tips to create a better work environment for your employees
Positive workplace culture
Building a strong workplace culture is essential and helps avoid a toxic work atmosphere. It creates a guideline for what you want to see and what you don’t want to see in your work environment. Be clear about your corporate values and include them in every aspect of your organization: your leadership style, your workspace, your work model, your events, and so on. Consequently, if you want to become more people-focused, it should be your priority at every stage of your business.
Employee-centric management style
57% of employees leave their jobs because of bad management. Leadership has a massive impact on the work atmosphere and for this reason, it is crucial to foster a people-first management style. People value their well-being and happiness in their professional lives more than they have before. Therefore, working in a toxic work environment with a toxic boss is a no-go for many. The happier your employees are, the more engaged, productive, and loyal to the company they are.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)
DEI is also essential for a positive and healthy workplace for all. Not only does it create a more diverse, equal, and inclusive work environment, but it also fulfils the expectations of today’s employees. Many companies have a multigenerational workforce but Milennials are the biggest demographic group in the workplace and Gen Z is just starting to enter the world of work. These two generations are very active in regard to DEI topics. Not taking this into account can therefore become a source of toxicity.
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New ways of working
Do you know what your workforce wants? What are their needs? The way we work is changing. Being forced to go to the office every day from 9 to 5 is now a hindrance for employees and job seekers. Hybrid work answers many employees’ expectations and is a perk to foster happiness, satisfaction, talent attraction, and staff retention. Letting your team work flexibly shows your dedication to becoming a modern workplace and to their well-being.
We are living in an era when people rarely stay in the same company for their whole lives. Sometimes they simply want to learn new skills and try a new job. But working for a company that doesn’t match their needs or doesn’t make them happy professionally is now also a reason for a career change (and a very good one). Do you want to foster employee satisfaction, well-being, and happiness? Use this toxic workplace checklist to make sure you minimize negative behaviors as much as possible. One of the latest changes in the world of work that greatly helps improve these aspects is the switch to a hybrid work model.
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Paulyne is a hybrid work specialist, who writes about sustainability, flexible work models and employee experience.