Dangers of a Toxic Work Culture

No one wants a toxic workplace. But some managers have ignored toxicity in the workplace or dismissed it as a necessary evil. If those companies are lagging behind others in growth, this is likely the reason why.

What Is a Toxic Work Culture?

A toxic work culture is one where employees do not feel comfortable in the work environment. This could be true for a number of reasons. They could dislike their fellow employees with or without reason. They could feel unfairly treated by the boss. Perhaps they feel unsafe, concerned that proper care and maintenance is not a priority with the machines they work with. Whatever the reasons, it’s important that managers address them as soon as possible.

What Are the Effects of a Toxic Work Culture?

It’s a long-established fact of industrial psychology that workers who are happy work harder and better than ones who aren’t. But the effects of a toxic work culture go much deeper. There’s a reason we use the word “toxic.” Workers in a toxic work culture can have higher levels of depression, anxiety and even physical illness. They respond more poorly to the stresses of the work environment and don’t work as well as those in more positive work environments.

What Can Be Done About a Toxic Work Culture?

Studies have shown workers who feel they have more agency in their job are happier and have a greater sense of control, which leads to those employees feeling good about their work environment.

When employees feel everyone is working together for a common goal, that management’s success is their success, they are more highly motivated and less likely to see the workplace as toxic. A New Life Solutions study showed that in communications, technology and health care companies, 72 percent of highly stressed employees reported a low connection to their work, while those with a higher connection to their work were 70 percent more likely to not feel stressed.

So how can your company contribute to a positive work culture? It is important to let employees know how important they are. One way to do this is by clear communication. If employees are doing a good job, management should let them know. If they are not, they should be encouraged with positive feedback that emphasizes their skills and helps move them in the right direction. Shows of appreciate need not be in the form of monetary rewards and work benefits, although employees certainly respond to those. A simple thank you for a job well done can go a long way.

Owners and managers should also make sure employees enjoy a safe work environment. All machines should conform to required safety standards, and companies should make sure to properly care for and maintain all machines so they do not present a danger to employees. Whatever time and cost it takes to make sure your company’s work environment is a positive one should pay much greater dividends in worker output.