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How Managers Can Change Toxic Workplaces And Build Effective Teams

Toxic work culture is the biggest reason why people quit, and it’s 10 times even more important than pay, according to research published in the MIT Sloan Management Review. But what exactly does a toxic workplace actually look like?

Negative work environments are often characterized by gossip and unhealthy competition, and the onus is put on the behavior of team members. However, toxicity is often created, fostered, and advanced by toxic leaders and dysfunctional organizational cultures.

The perfect work environment may not be achieved, but leaders can strive for the better by helping to create positive workplaces. Help employees feel safe to advance their careers and exercise autonomy, without fear of reprisal, the sphere of influence, burnout, passive-aggressive communication, inappropriate behavior, or performance appraisals unfair rates.

“Toxic workplaces are a billion-dollar problem”

  • Non-inclusive, where members across gender, race, sexual identity and orientation, disability and age don’t feel they are treated fairly, welcomed, or included in key decisions. 
  • Disrespectful, or lacking in consideration, courtesy and dignity for others. The researchers’ previous work found respect, or the lack thereof was the single strongest predictor of how employees as a whole rated the corporate culture.
  • Unethical behavior, including descriptions of the organization being dishonest or lacking regulatory compliance which protects workers’ safety.
  • Cutthroat or backstabbing behavior and ruthless competition. Nearly 10% of employee reviews noted poor collaboration at their company, which didn’t have a huge impact on turnover. But what did correspond with low culture scores and higher turnover was employees saying that their office was “Darwinian” or that colleagues often “stab each other in the back.”
  • Abusive management, including bullying, harassment and hostility. Nearly one-third of Glassdoor reviews discuss management in general, but 0.8% described their manager as abusive.

The situation of management of abuse and bullying of employees at the company

Fixing Toxic Workplaces to Built Effective Teams

Creating Opportunities for All

Lateral opportunities, side projects, and challenges can promote retention for those who truly work to live and not live to work. The shift towards a healthy balance between work and personal life means recognizing that team members who are not at the top of the ladder still want job satisfaction and a stable environment. Also, appreciate their contributions as people are set in the direction of moving up.

Corporate Social Events

Successful team-building events often take place outside of the workplace. Happy hours, team-building activities, potlucks, and other events offer an opportunity for workers to see people outside of the demands of daily office life.

Interacting or working collaboratively with each other, away from the restrictive atmosphere of the workplace, strengthens relationships and reinforces the worker’s connection to the team.

Zero-Tolerance Policies

Certain behaviors are not tolerated within professional settings and require action or termination. But if a leader or team member is reported even once for toxic practices, the situation should be addressed appropriately, even if termination isn’t warranted.

Difficult employees will always exist, but it’s important to make the distinction between someone who needs more attention and guidance, and someone who is consistently bullying or disrespecting other employees.

Vacation Time or PTO

A work-life balance is crucial in maintaining a positive work atmosphere. Toxic managers reward or celebrate “hard workers” who work off the clock, while a healthy work culture encourages time off without negative consequences.

Companies should be committed to work-life boundaries, and aware of employee burnout. Leaders can ask their teams to disconnect when they are at home or on vacation, and respect employees’ distance and space away from work. The workaholics of the organization should be regularly reminded to take their paid time off or utilize all of their benefits.

The Importance of Corporate Culture

Toxic workplace culture comes at a huge price: even before the Great Resignation, turnover related to toxic workplaces cost U.S. employers almost $50 billion yearly.

If retention is your concern, then the first place to examine is corporate culture. A positive workplace is a guiding factor to strong retention, and leaders play an important role in ensuring that the atmosphere stays healthy.

Source: How Managers Can Change Toxic Workplaces And Build Effective Teams


>> View more: 9 Employee Well-Being Programs From The 100 Best Companies To Work For

>> View more: Building 5 Characteristics of a Positive Workplace CultureThe Leadership Triangle


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