Non-Toxic and Healthy Work Environment:

Signs of the bad, and development of the good

Focus on Key Takeaways…

A toxic work environment is a sure way to reduce productivity, increase employee turnover, and destroy an organization’s culture. While there’s always opportunity to make changes to improve the work environment, damage can be done that destroys the organization’s internal and external view, as well as influence the products or services that’re offered to a customer. We’re going to help create a list of the signs to be on the lookout for, especially if you’re a leader and have the responsibility of gathering this information and taking action! Also, we will give you some key leadership behaviors to focus on to improve the work environment.

Signs of Toxicity

Whether you work for a small or large organization, many of the signs of a toxic workplace are similar. While this isn’t an exhaustive list, these key points will highlight some organizational behaviors and characteristics to be on the lookout for:

  • Gossip
    • A sure sign of a disconnected and dishonest staff is gossip amongst employees. This is common in workplaces with lack of respect, and typically is a sign of an organization that has little transparency from the managers decisions and how they’re channeled into action.
  • Large Variant of Subcultures
    • While subcultures can certainly be positive and normal within organizations, when you have too many and they all function drastically different, there’s an inconsistent approach from leadership throughout the organization to create a strong organization-wide culture that works towards the mission, vision, and shared values.
  • Lack of Accountability
    • This makes the top three signs as probably the most important sign of a toxic workplace. When accountability is non-existent you typically observe unhealthy conflict amongst individuals and siloed departments, higher theft concerns, increased absenteeism, lower performance, and the detrimental resistance to change to improve the organization’s being.

Now on to the improvement factors! Aside from these key signs of a toxic and unhealthy work environment, there are ways to combat these three factors in three applicable behaviors and practices. See the list below for the three key points in developing a non-toxic and healthy work environment:

  • Address Rumors and Conflict
    • Don’t let problems go, address issues as they arise. When you hear rumors, when issues are brought to your attention, or unhealthy conflicting is arising, address and correct it. Allowing a culture of bullying is a sure way to put your staff and the organization at risk for extreme consequences, but these can be mitigated through proactiveness.
  • Focus on the Mission, Vision, and Shared Values of the Organization
    • While it’s okay to have subcultures, it’s important that subcultures function as a component of the organization’s objectives. The leaders and managers must focus on building the values, conveying them, and creating a culture that strives to achieve those goals, then sets additional standard and goals in their subculture which positively impacts the organization.
  • Hold People Accountable, and Yes, it’s a Big Word!
    • Whether discipline, coaching, behavioral change, skill development, performance improvement plans, or more, the organization will deteriorate if people aren’t held accountable. Unfortunately, if those at the lower levels of the organizational hierarchy aren’t held accountable, it’s fairly easy to identify that leaders and managers aren’t held accountable either! Being “disciplined” to create a healthy environment and culture is a key to success.

With all this in mind, never forget that it’s too late! Unfortunately, waiting too long to address workplace toxicity has detrimental short and long-term repercussions, when you have the opportunity and are given the tools to make a positive change, be aware of the signs and address them with the proper solution.

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