Five Circumstances That Make a Toxic Work Environment

About one-fifth of American workers consider their work environment toxic due to gossip, disrespect, manipulation, arguing, or malicious people poisoning the team’s morale. It’s estimated that a single disharmonious employee can cost a company more than $12,000 by affecting other employees’ performance. A troublesome work environment can decrease employees’ work quality and result in them taking their frustration out on customers or quitting to find a job with a supportive environment.

A toxic workplace’s emotional weight can carry over into an employee’s personal life, leaving them depressed, drained, and unhealthy due to increased stress and anxiety they experience at work. Today I will discuss some of the factors that lead to toxic work environments so you can assess your business and see what changes you can make to create a balanced and harmonious workplace for your employees.

Poor communication

Miscommunication between workers and managers directly impacts productivity, job satisfaction, and retention within a company. Poor communication confuses employees causing them not to understand priorities, work on nonessential projects, or spend time correcting mistakes. Miscommunication leads to a lack of team cohesion, unhealthy competition, gossip, damaged relationships, and an unpleasant workplace. Every problem stems from a lack of communication and can only be solved by asking questions. Being willing to ask for clarity with tasks that seem confusing will limit mistakes and build relationships among coworkers. Train employees on how to communicate clearly, and you will see a decrease in toxicity and an increase in productivity.

Office Drama

Workplace gossip generates an us-versus-them mentality that causes division and mistrust throughout the employee team. Division leads to the erosion of empathy and self-awareness and makes it difficult for one person to see an issue from another person’s perspective.
A gossip culture wastes time that can be better spent on productive conversations and causes other people to disrespect their coworkers. Anytime someone diminishes the dignity or respect of another employee, it must be addressed to find the real problem causing the symptom of gossip.

Lack of accountability in the workplace generates frustration, disengagement, and allows employees to focus on who is to blame when a problem arises instead of finding a solution. When managers are confident and compassionate while confronting the storytelling employees, it models the appropriate way to confront someone and foster a respectful and healthy work environment.

Inadequate HR dept

Good HR practitioners realize that investing in and developing employees is the key to securing the company’s success. Anytime an employee has a grievance, it is imperative that you thoroughly investigate the charges before employees decide to take things into their own hands. Not having a dedicated HR department where the employee can find support to their stress and overwhelm is fuel for a toxic workplace. An efficient HR department will guide a person to find solutions to their problems and provide training to the workforce to be proactive with employee issues. When managers or HR professionals ignore employee grievances or concerns in the workplace, it leaves everyone vulnerable without skills to diffuse conflict appropriately.

Sexual harassment and discrimination

Even though it is against the law to engage in verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature or allow an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment–it is still common in the workplace. Whether an employee overhears coworkers using indecent language or walking by a coworker watching an inappropriate video on their iPhone–Equal employment opportunities laws are made to create safety and fairness in the workplace. Allowing employees to listen to music with sexually explicit lyrics or words that discriminate against race, religion, gender, age, or national origin creates a toxic environment. It can reduce productivity in your employee team or lead you into legal trouble.

High turnover rate

If people aren’t staying around for a year or more, it may be due to a toxic work environment.
Negativity in the workplace can make everything seem harder, decrease trust, block cooperation, lower productivity, and create a negative ripple throughout your employee team.

Train managers to keep a pulse on employee attitudes and address discontent to avoid it from spreading to other employees. A negative employee should be taken seriously because those same employees, with the proper attention and guidance, can become more productive by merely changing their attitude.

Proper training is also a factor in low retention rates. Nothing is worse than being a talented employee forced to work with unproductive or toxic coworkers. A productive employee may like their job but can’t handle the lack of discipline, disorganization, or low quality work from other employees. Employees are more likely to feel valued if you have invested time in their training and development and are more likely to stick around longer. Top talent will feel comfortable in an environment that feels supportive and where leadership is upheld and trusted.

In conclusion, a toxic work environment loses the company money. When employees have to work in an environment that makes them feel unsafe, on edge, confused, picked-on, or undervalued, they are less productive. You want employees to be top performers, and creating a healthy company culture will be a win-win for both the employees and your bottom line.

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