“When a workplace becomes toxic, its poison spreads beyond its walls and into the lives of its workers and their families.”
Over the last couple of years, toxic working environments and their repercussions have been discussed at length. Most often, these discussions end up missing a fundamental matter – Can toxicity be intentionally infused in the office culture by a select few or is it a natural turn of human nature that allows for it to creep in stealthily and grip employees in a vice-like maneuver?
The answer is no and no!
Office culture turns dangerous when the ones at the top of the leadership hierarchy don’t see or disregard the signs that something’s going wrong!
Why Is Company Culture Taking Centre Stage
As of date, across the globe, unpredictability and fickleness are not new phenomena. And in the case of corporate organizations too, change is a constant companion. While most change is good, it is not always the case and especially so when it comes to office culture and the corporate value system.
1. Everything’s an open book these days…
Today, potential employees are doubly fastidious about corporate values and culture; they factor in career fulfillment and employee-employer commitment, open door values concerning cooperation and development, and lastly, the leadership hierarchy.
It is no secret that potential employees read up a great deal about organization culture through websites such as Glassdoor and value the audits mentioned therein. From this seemingly innocuous exploration, the moment of truth concerning office culture becomes THE deciding factor and even helps determine whether the applicant chooses to apply for the open job or not.
2. Corporate culture issues are BIG issues…
As laid out in an ongoing report from PwC, corporate culture issues have been in the news a great deal of late – especially standing out as genuinely newsworthy in connection with hostile workplaces, diversity issues, pay-gap or swindling of clients.
On the other hand, specific reports that offer incognito worker inputs specifically to HR offices suggest that over 32% interviewees choose to maintain silence because the guilty party maybe their director; or they dread striking back and worse, losing their employment.
The stats pointing to corporate culture issues are troublesome – According to a report by SnackNation, nearly 5% of the respondents went so far as to call their company’s culture ‘toxic’, while nearly a quarter noted that their company culture needed improvement!
That said, there are many channels for millennial employees to vent out their angst (read toxicity) and therefore, the onus is on the authorities to recognize and fix the wellspring of a group’s crumbling office culture.
Reasons Why Company Culture ‘Goes Bad’…
When it comes to reading the signs of a toxic culture, some tell-tale cues do indicate the level of breakdown. Below we will give you warning signs that can help you recognize the scarcity of positivity in the workplace environment:
1. A crumbling internal correspondence
An absence of solidarity in the workplace can be dangerous to a business.
This is the reason it’s nothing unexpected that poor inward correspondence is a visible indication of a negative culture. In any case, because your organization plans to make a culture where everybody is benevolent and trusting of one another, openness is of the utmost importance.
The most apparent alarm bells indicative of a lethal work environment are when even acknowledging a fellow employee’s presence is troublesome, constrained and un-agreeable – That’s when you know you have to steer the ship in the right direction!
Agreed, rivalry at the workplace can be beneficial for the company in general. Minimal doses of competitiveness can trigger a seemingly friendly challenge between associates. Tragically, it’s the point at which it transforms into hostility when things can start to drive wedges between co-workers.
And when rivalry gets excessively focused, things can turn south, rather quickly!
3. Office tattle AKA “Gossip”
Water cooler conversations and office tattle are negative notwithstanding what condition one is in. At the workplace, it tends to be impeding to the organization’s life force and causes great emotional torment for the victims in question.
It’s toxic, harmful, and fertile ground for a negative corporate culture!
How Do You Fix Toxic Work Culture?
All is not lost, and some specific implementations will help you address lethality at the workplace. Here’s how…
1. Straightforward’s the way forward
To keep up a positive workplace culture, ensure that the top of the leadership hierarchy right down to the ones in the core middle management make ‘trust’ and ‘straightforwardness’ the bedrock of their inter-office communication.
New initiatives should keep all the colleagues in tune with the organization vision and objectives, and keep on updating them regardless of whether the organization is able to meet those objectives in time, or not.
Sharing timely objective-audits with every team member within the group, especially concerning quarterly objectives enables colleagues to cooperate toward shared goals. This takes the initiative towards straightforwardness a stride further.
Clarity is likewise essential among executives and co-workers. To maintain it, line managers and level directors ought to have timely repeating discussions with colleagues where they talk about what’s working and so forth, and what the co-workers can do to keep developing in their vocations.
2. Acknowledge the employees’ diligence
Studies demonstrate that co-worker acknowledgment helps support commitment. Leadership should express to colleagues that they cherish the work that they do and recognize their commitment to the company’s mission.
3. Make sure workplace objectives are clearly understood
You can’t hope to have an incredible workplace culture if no one realizes what the leadership expects them to achieve in a tangible manner.
Characterizing workplace objectives so everybody comprehends what they’re in charge of should work to get every hand on deck. What’s more, a clear navigation map with the timeline for achieving the objectives works to spur initiative and ingenuity too.
4. Enforce ‘responsibility’ and ‘equality’
Often the simple initiative of finding how certain behaviors or inaction fanned the lethal exhaust can be the elucidating exercise you were looking for. Investing significant time to think deliberately as opposed to reacting responsively under pressure is vital.
But the buck doesn’t stop there, for its equally crucial as an HR manager/ representative to ensure that everybody is held to similar norms. Usually, the trigger for toxicity and ultimate cause for trouble starts when specific employees are considered “top choices” and are never given their share of blame no matter what. They get a free pass, and every other person who’s not in that aggregate is dealt with unexpectedly.
If you are in charge of tidying up a toxic workplace culture, you have to ensure everybody is dealt with a similar way. After all, there’s nothing more effective than company culture that’s ‘fair and transparent’!