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4 Factors That Create a Toxic Work Environment

Avatar of Autonomous Autonomous | Apr 24, 2021
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A topic that is not discussed enough is that of a toxic work environment. Much of the lack of acknowledgment comes from managers and other leaders being unable to face the fact that they may have created and facilitated such a surrounding. However, that should be the reason why it is one of the priorities to be discussed.

There are physical and emotional factors that go into creating a healthy place to work. Even if you always do an office furniture bulk order to ensure that your workforce is outfitted with the latest ergonomic equipment, that is still not enough to help you battle the terrors of a bad work environment. 

Additionally, if such a situation is currently going on in your workplace, you need to fix it as soon as possible, so your team can operate efficiently. That means instead of being afraid to face the topic and the implications it may have for your office, it is time to dive into it head-on to establish what your reality is, and what changes you need to make.

How does one identify that a toxic work environment is present? Well, these signs should help you. 

Signs of a Toxic Workplace

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Here are some of the warning signs that you may have a toxic work environment on your hands:

  • There is a low-level conflict communication skill present throughout the entire staff compliment. If it happens to be a single or maybe two persons, that could be nothing more than a toxic personality trait that needs to be worked on. However, if conflict resolution seems unnaturally and unbelievably difficult in your entire office, it may mean there is a toxic work environment present. 
  • The management team uses a vertical management style. In such a context, subordinates are not allowed to share their opinions and ideas freely. Even if they do, they are never acknowledged or used. 
  • All the motivational factors in the business happen to be quantitative. In other words, they are based on material things and financial incentives. While more money is not necessarily a bad thing, you want to be in a place that acknowledges the importance of both quality and quantity of life. 
  • A high employee turnover is present and also a sign of a toxic workplace. People can leave a good place of employment if they feel like they have exhausted the boundaries of their contribution there. However, you do not see a mass exodus happening from a place that treats its employees well and has an engaged workforce. If you find that a lot of employees are leaving the organization consistently, it may mean that a toxic work environment is at play. 

Factors That Lead to an Unhealthy Working Environment

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While a market crash can take a company by surprise, a toxic work environment does not. There are usually identifiable factors that contribute to creating such a setting, and you often find that the change is progressive. 

So, here are some of the problems that may be contributing to the air of toxicity that lingers around your colleagues:

  • Too much centralization - The management team is expected to guide the business in the right direction. However, it is not meant to misconstrue this to mean micromanaging and giving every single directive. Organizations must learn where decentralization is appropriate, as greater staff agency leads to lower levels of toxicity. 
  • No emphasis on growth - Employees are going to become bitter and eventually toxic if they feel that their workplace is conducive to stagnation. Managers must take an interest in professional growth, so people feel like they are being taken seriously. Doing so is quite beneficial too since it equips the workforce to do things more effectively and efficiently in the office. 
  • Power distance - Some companies have a situation where the management team tends to always stay together. Even in social contexts or at lunch, they rarely associate with their subordinates. Doing this creates a rift in the upper and lower levels of the chain of command, which means there is going to be a communication barrier present. 
  • No recognition - Human beings thrive on recognition even if they do not say it. Whether it is a reward system or otherwise acknowledging good efforts on the part of employees, employee recognition performance should always be present. If there is none, the workforce is going to feel less motivated to give its best. 

Recommendations to Remediate a Negative Work Environment

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What can you do to address your toxic virtual work environment or its physical counterpart? The following recommendations are all you need:

  • Always encourage employee innovation. As a manager, you would be surprised at the kind of useful ideas and opinions roaming around in the mind of various team members. As a subordinate, you know the great stream of ideas you have and how they could be beneficial for the company. The management team must encourage forward-thinking in all its forms.
  • Consider putting together a recognition system. Even if it is as simple as sending out a commendation email to the entire workforce when someone does well, being acknowledged creates more motivation than you could ever imagine. 
  • Foster a culture of effective employee communication to avoid toxic work environment. Every workforce has various chains of communication that it uses. Of these, the grapevine is the most dangerous. To eliminate the need for the grapevine, management must foster a culture of open and honest communication. If there is no need for information to be confidential, share it with the team once it is beneficial. 
  • Remember that every employee is as much of an individual as the person is a worker. Therefore, never ignore the need for personal and professional development where each staff member is concerned. Furthermore, going this route means that you bolster your talent pool more than you ever saw possible.
  • Implement fun activities and days that allow the team to bond more as a unit. The more positive energy there is, the less room is left for a negative work environment. Additionally, you get to foster the creation and maintenance of healthy work relationships.

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