‘’I left a very good job because of how toxic it was. It was running on high negative emotions every day. The employer often violated the staff’s rights when it came to wrongful termination and the employment law was not adhered to. He did not have clear responsibilities for us resulting to people being overworked leading to burnout. Other employees developed a negative attitude and spread office rumors about the manager and other colleagues.
As a result, this caused a lot of conflicts. Most of my colleagues were stressed and had to seek medical attention. There was low morale and no motivation to go to work causing a lot of absenteeism. 3 of my colleagues resigned including myself and some were barely a month old. There were missed deadlines which lead to loss of clients and business.’’ – Fiona, an HR professional when I asked her why she left her previous job.
Fiona’s workplace describes the signs of a toxic work environment; when the workplace is dysfunctional and the people in it cause disruption in one’s life. Anyone regardless of their position at work can cause it.
So, what are some of the causes of a toxic workplace?
1. Personality Clash
Employees in a workplace come from different cultures, backgrounds and have experiences that shape their personalities.
When staff and managers don’t understand why people approach things in a certain way and lack understanding of the same, it can lead to toxicity.
2. Unfair Company Practices and Unequal Enforcement of Them
Sometimes staff may feel that a particular department is given better opportunities. Others may feel like some people are promoted not on performance but because of the relationship they have with a manager or could be differences in pay for people doing the same role leading to toxicity.
3. Lack of Clear Communication
It is crucial for communication in the workplace to go both ways. Managers can keep employees informed while employees can be able to give feedback to management without fear of punishment.
Poor communication can result in rumors leading to workplace drama causing a toxic environment.
4. Poor Leadership Skills
Managers who lack leadership skills are not able to motivate, influence or inspire their teams leading to the disengagement of employees. This often results in disruptive behaviors in the workplace.
What Can HR do to help fix a toxic workplace?
1. Acknowledge the Problem
Acknowledging the problem and dealing with it immediately is important. It helps you to proactively address any potential challenges and can create a safer, more secure working environment for everyone.
It is also good to approach these issues with honesty and an open mind while addressing them directly to eradicate negative behavior.
2. Have Clear HR Policies and Procedures
Having clear HR policies and procedures in compliance with the labor laws is important. It is essential for you to refer to these documents to communicate how managers can relate with employees and vice versa, what behavior is acceptable in the workplace and the consequences while being in line with the employment law.
If you would like help to develop effective policies, please reply to this email.
3. Incorporate the Culture of Rewards and Recognition
HR can consider implementing a fair rewards and recognition program that will help employees feel appreciated and feel like their efforts are recognized. They can also encourage other managers to do so.
It helps them work better, increase employee engagement, productivity and loyalty. It also avoids making your employees feel under-appreciated.
4. Be Flexible
HR professionals can improve relationships in the workplace by being supportive. You can allow a working mother experiencing nanny problems to work from home or allow someone dealing with personal problems flexible hours. This helps employees not to resent the company.
5. Consider Team Building Activities
Team building activities help staff on all levels interact and work together as a team towards a common goal. It encourages communication, innovativeness and collaboration which can help people relate much better. It also reduces tension between employees by interacting in a more relaxed environment.
6. Consider Training
Upskilling your staff with tools to improve their work and to know how to approach workplace issues is important. A workforce well empowered to handle situations helps prevent toxicity.
Toxic workplaces exist and as an HR professional, it is important to empower yourself to identify the signs early and know how to deal with them.
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