removing toxic workplace culture

A toxic workplace environment can interfere with job performance, staff morale, and turn any organisational culture into a negative and stressful environment. A high turnover, unprofessional behaviour and increased third-party intervention or litigation are all signs of a toxic workplace that need to be addressed with open communication and zero tolerance policies that are supported by the leadership team.

A high turnover rate among employees is a good indication that there is something wrong with the work environment. A manager that intimidates staff, poor communication and negative feedback, a lack of focus, and constant rumours and gossip about other employees are all motivational factors for employees to leave their place of work. The reasons for employees leaving should be examined to establish any patterns, such as conflict with management or co-workers, or poor recruiting practices. 

A lack of respect can lead to abusive communication which can occur between peers, towards management, or to employees. Gossip, infighting, condescending statements and yelling are all examples of unprofessional conduct. These negative behaviours contribute towards a working culture that is devoid of trust and positive relationships, leading to unproductive and demotivated staff. 

An organisation experiencing increased external intervention (e.g. Fair Work claims) is another red flag when it comes to toxic workplaces. Employees are seeking ways for others to intervene on their behalf to address situations where they feel they have been mistreated, wronged, and that the work environment itself is cultivating conflict. Not only will increased external intervention lead to increased legal costs to address each claim, workplace morale and reputation will also suffer.

start by listening

Open communication is a way to identify and address issues. Whether that communication is conducted in one-on-one meetings, anonymous surveys, or in groups, employees should trust that the process is fair, transparent, and that all answers, no matter how difficult to hear by management, are listened to without fear of retribution.

Exit interviews are extremely useful as a tool to find out why employees are leaving the organisation. Departing employees feel that they have nothing left to lose and no fear of retaliation, so they often are more honest with their responses. Companies that do not conduct exit interviews are ignoring potential issues that may be arising from toxic behaviour within the workplace. 

Leadership sets the tone for organisational culture and behaviour. A positive work environment where employees are valued and respected should be upheld, and when any behaviour that deviates from this is displayed, it is clear to all that such behaviour is not tolerated or accepted, and dealt with swiftly. 

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