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How to manage toxic workplace issues

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Employee turnover is a major source of concern for many businesses because it threatens their reputation, productivity, and performance. While different companies may describe and categorise employee turnover differently, the Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “the rate at which employees leave a company and are replaced by new employees.”

Turnover can generally be classified into two types:

  • Voluntary – Employees who choose to leave on their own for any personal reasons.
  • Involuntary – Employees who have been terminated by the company for a specific purpose.

There could be a variety of factors why employees may leave departments or organisations, including burnout, a negative work environment, lack of growth opportunities, a competitive offer, and negative feelings towards management.

It has since been discovered that the most common reason for employees leaving their jobs is due to a toxic work environment. According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s report, ‘The High Cost of Toxic Workplace Culture‘, 58% of employees who quit blamed their managers.

To gain a deeper understanding of this crucial problem that’s causing employee turnover, let’s take a closer look at toxic workplace issues and what can be done to create a better workplace.

What Is A Toxic Workplace And Why Is It Dangerous?

Toxic workplaces are marked by incompetent leadership, poor management skills, a weak rule of ethics, and poor communication. If these disruptions occur regularly, they could have a detrimental impact on both your physical and mental health.

study of the UK workforce discovered that toxic cultures caused employees to be less engaged with their jobs, to suffer from anxiety as a direct result of workplace bullying, to seek therapy as a result of an issue they encountered at work, and to call in sick as a result of problematic behaviour they witnessed/experienced at work, among other things.

This is proof that when your job, your working environment, and the people you work with are all negative and distressing, they can begin to affect your life and lead to emotional exhaustion.

Moreover, according to Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organisational behaviour at Stanford Graduate School of Business, the link between poor health and poor workplace conditions is “significant, profound, and has been documented over decades.” He also believes it’s a major health crisis, resulting in 120,000 extra deaths in the United States each year!

The hostile workplace and toxic culture will also result in low morale, conflict, negative outcomes, low productivity, inappropriate behaviour, unfair treatment, severe tension, and high turnover among employees. That being said, numerous situations can arise, causing employees to leave in search of a better opportunity.

Here Are 10 Examples Of Toxic Workplace Issues

There are plenty of examples of toxic workplace culture, ranging from office rumours and cliques, to misinformation and poor management. Be it managers, co-workers, and low-level employees, they all have the potential to create that unpleasant working environment.

To see if you’re dealing with toxic work issues, check out the following dysfunctional scenarios.

1) A toxic boss who yells and is unsupportive

No matter what you do, whether it’s right or wrong, your boss will always find a way to negatively criticise you, making you feel down the majority of the time at work. To top it off, when he asks you to redo something or is dissatisfied with your work, he screams his lungs out at you until everyone outside his room can hear him. 

2) The workload doesn’t match job description

You were never given a proper job description when you started, so you always do what’s expected of you. Then, without realising it, you have multiple superiors telling you to do this and that, and you end up with so many tasks that aren’t a priority or even related to your job role. 

3) Working hard with no positive feedback and appreciation

You did your best to finish and complete all tasks assigned to you, but you received no response after submitting your work. Worse, you only get negative feedback, and are asked to do the work again without any proper instructions. So, you end up figuring everything out on your own, and when you finally get it right, you get no credit at all. 

4) Seniority issues are causing schisms in co-workers’ relationships

There are employees of various ages and seniority levels in every workplace, but it becomes an issue when you constantly have to back down and give in to those who are older and/or have higher seniority than you. A junior executive employee shared, “Even though my senior executive is new and still needs to learn about what’s going on at the company, we can never agree on what’s best because the senior always feels like she’s in charge of EVERYTHING!” 

5) There’s no clear career path or no opportunity for advancement

The management or human resources department never provided a clear career path or opportunities for employees to advance up the ladder. Everyone is just doing the same thing over and over again, and no one is being sent to training to become better or to improve themselves. 

6) Unhealthy work-life balance

No one knows the exact ratio for good work-life balance, but you’ll know it’s a problem when it begins to affect your health, relationships, and social connections. Some bosses believe that employees must answer to them at all times, even after office hours and on weekends/public holidays, especially now that some employees are working from home. 

7) A rumor-filled and backstabbing atmosphere

Everywhere you go in the office, you’ll hear people talking about other employees, departments, management, and even you. You’re also worried about offending anyone or saying anything inappropriate because anyone in the office could start snitching on you to the bosses behind your back. Simply put, no one in the office can be trusted. 

8) Directions given by supervisors are vague or confusing

Employees can’t do their jobs properly if their bosses are giving them contradictory orders that are never in sync. For example, you’re supposed to be working on a company brochure but got different instructions from the marketing director, the content lead, and the CEO. When something went wrong, everyone started blaming and pointing fingers at you for creating the brochure incorrectly.

9) The office is divided into cliques and groups

When people only want to work with those close to them and refuse to collaborate with others who are not on the same page, the working environment has become toxic. You’ll notice certain cliques or groups at work who will only hang out with each other during office hours and even after work. 

10) Overly strict and out of date work policy

The company implemented a few toxic workplace policies that appear to be overly strict and outdated, such as a strict dress code, non-flexible working hours, stringent medical leave policies, and making side jobs illegal. This can create a toxic environment by making employees feel unproductive and non-compliant.

What Are The 15 Signs Of Toxic Workplace?

Every employee enjoys working in an environment that inspires and motivates them to achieve their full potential. Regrettably, this isn’t always the case. The list below will help you identify the different signs of a toxic workplace environment:

  • You are always exhausted and forcing yourself to go to work because of overly stressful workplace culture.
  • You are feeling burnout and dissatisfaction with management as a result of being overburdened with job responsibilities.
  • You feel burdened and threatened to go to work because you are being bullied by your bosses and/or peers.
  • You have either become a victim of or a contributor to office gossip, whether you did so on purpose or unintentionally.
  • Your boss is constantly undermining your self-esteem and confidence, as well as casting doubt on your abilities.
  • You are dealing with toxic employees who spread negativity at work and have a negative impact on everyone.
  • You notice co-workers who aren’t communicating with one another, or you don’t want to talk to certain people at work.
  • You’ve witnessed a large number of employees leaving, and you’re wondering if you should quit as well.
  • You or any other employees you know are subjected to sexual or mental harassment.
  • You’ve observed discrimination at your workplace, whether it’s gender, age, or racial discrimination.
  • Your company’s culture revolves around manipulative behaviour.
  • Your boss favours selected people, or appoints close friends/family members to important positions without taking into account the effort put in by others.
  • You have no idea what your company’s goal is, and you’re confused about the work that needs to be done.
  • You feel disregarded, un-welcomed, and intimidated by bosses or co-workers when you’re at work.
  • Your HR department isn’t doing anything about the wrongdoings, so no one is held accountable. 

How To Make The Workplace Culture Better?

Every individual is accountable for improving the workplace so that everyone can work effectively and in harmony. However, as the people in charge of all employees, the HR department and managers must figure out how to prevent and resolve the toxic workplace culture.

Here are a few strategies that could assist organisations in dealing with hostile work conditions and, as a result, reduce high turnover rates:

  • Recognise and address the issue with your workforce openly and honestly.
  • Make it clear that the company will not tolerate any form of discrimination, gossiping, or shunning of any employee.
  • Implementing a fair rewards and recognition programme to make employees feel appreciated, allowing them to be more productive and positive.
  • Consider offering flexible work hours, fewer workdays, paid vacations, and other benefits to encourage your workforce to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  • Boost employee morale by encouraging teamwork and emphasising mutual respect without judgement.
  • Determine why your employees are overworked and ask if they require assistance.
  • Provide new training and education opportunities to employees so they can advance in their careers and avoid becoming bored with the same tasks.
  • If employees are quitting because of a certain supervisor, it’s time to re-evaluate that person’s worth to the company.
Listening And Understanding Is The Key To Workplace Happiness

Although there are various reasons to why your employees may choose to leave their jobs, most companies are concerned when turnover becomes excessive and uncontrollable. High employee turnover can be costly and harm the company, including productivity loss, training new employees, added recruitment expenses, and revenue loss.

To mitigate this issue, employers must first understand the causes of employee turnover before making the required changes to keep the employees satisfied and happy. I

t’s crucial to evaluate all elements and investigate the reasons for voluntary and involuntary turnover when determining the targeted turnover rate. Although toxic workplace issues are the leading cause of employee turnover, these issues can be mitigated and avoided by listening to employees and learning why they choose to leave or stay. 

Conduct a survey, individual interviews, or feedback sessions to discover more about what’s going on in your company. Only then, the company will be able to figure out how to nip employee turnover in the bud before it becomes a severe problem!

Of course, nobody likes conflict. That's why we do not only look at a professional's skills but also whether he or she fits within the culture of your organisation. Let our experienced specialists help you find a new employee who matches your organisation’s needs. Make sure to check our website and let us help you here!

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