Workplace Transformation: Improving Toxic Work Cultures
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A productive workforce starts with a healthy work environment. However, if there are signs of employees feeling intimidated, discouraged, stressed – it seems that the workplace has turned into a negative experience. While it’s the responsibility of everyone to contribute to a healthy environment where people are welcomed and comfortable, it’s crucial for leaders to build and maintain it by identifying and addressing issues of toxicity in their early stages. Otherwise, it could lead to poor performing workforce, diminishing productivity, and stagnant growth.
Understanding toxic work cultures
While toxic work cultures are the result of various factors, toxicity can begin with individuals at every level of an organization. They are absolutely detrimental to an organization as they hinder the ability to succeed as well as retain talented employees. It should be emphasized that many employees, high performers specifically, aren’t afraid to abandon ship when faced with workplace toxicity. Therefore, leaders need to act quickly to transform a dysfunctional work environment before productivity lags and the turnover rate becomes severe.
“The biggest concern for any organization should be when their most passionate people become quiet.” – Brigette Hyacinth
How to remedy them
In order to tackle cultural issues, leaders should identify core problems and develop an appropriate repair strategy. Improving unhealthy cultures takes a lot of time and effort and doesn’t happen overnight, however, with good leadership combined with an openness to change, the toxic environment can be easily eliminated and gradually lead to success.
1. Identify core problems
The first step to examine organizational culture and design effective solutions is to identify the root of toxicity in the workplace. While there are many signs of an unhealthy workplace, here are five traits of cultural toxicity that are too critical to overlook.
Reasons for leaving a job (Source: LinkedIn survey)
- Poor leadership: “people don’t leave their jobs, they leave their managers.” Research has shown that one of the top reasons people quit their jobs is a bad supervisor. Instead of coaching and inspiring, this leader type is constantly blaming, giving punishment and unfair practices towards their employees. This increases burnout and anxiety as burdens associated with making mistakes or not meeting expectations heighten over time.
- Disengaged and unmotivated employees: this often happens when employees are treated as assets rather than people. They are put in an unsupportive environment where there’s little concern for their well-being while their ideas or contributions receive no recognition and appreciation.
- High employee turnover: if a company is constantly hiring the same positions with employees leaving within a short-term period, they are probably facing severe issues. The cost of a high turnover rate is much greater than filling a vacant spot – it is also associated with both direct and indirect costs such as hiring, training, opportunity costs and even affects team functions.
- Failure to meet deadlines: when employees are systematically failing to deliver projects on time, it’s likely due to poor time management, unrealistic workloads, and deadlines, or the lack of collaborative efforts and communication.
- Bullying behaviors: this takes the form of personal attacks, including spreading rumors, gossip or innuendo about a coworker. Aside from straining relationships, this could heavily affect employees’ mental health, leaving them isolated and intimidated when going to work.
2. Develop an appropriate repair strategy
With a clear understanding of the illness, leaders should tackle issues that have the biggest impact first, and smaller ones will likely begin to right themselves.
- Engage with and appreciate employees: leaders should be supportive of their employees’ efforts, listen to their ideas or concerns, and express willingness to help. This helps employees feel encouraged and appreciated, allowing them to work more efficiently and effectively.
- Communicate transparently: Rather than turning a blind eye on what’s happening inside the organization, managers should observe and take quick actions by directly confronting and addressing underlying issues as soon as they arise in order to get the workforce back on track.
- Set objective workloads and deadlines: leaders must clarify priorities and time sufficient to complete the tasks then assign them accordingly. Workloads and deadlines should also make sense in terms of the length and complexity of the job, as well as the employee’s competence and experience.
Running and working in a healthy and professional environment propel both the people and the company toward increasing productivity
Running and working in a healthy and professional environment propel both the people and the company toward increasing productivity, positive attitudes, and growth in revenue. Leaders, as well as everyone in the organization, should always be aware of where things are at, identify what the problems are and why they happen that way, then develop and implement an effective solution to change for the better.
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