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How to Improve a Toxic Work Environment

Avatar of Autonomous Autonomous | Apr 19, 2021
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A toxic work environment gets in the way of good work relationships and productivity. While getting an office furniture bulk order every year to ensure that staff members remain comfortable is an important piece of the puzzle, you also want to take care of the less tangible factors that go into making things flow in a less than desirable manner.

A toxic virtual work environment is even harder to deal with than a physical one because you must rely on remote capabilities to address issues and ensure that a team is more connected. Being in different spaces presents a natural disadvantage where bridging such gaps is concerned. 

Additionally, such a surrounding tends to be synonymous with a lower than acceptable conflict communication skill. So, there are going to be more grievances than you would want to deal with, which takes away from potential productivity. If you want to learn how to improve your work environment, you may want to heed the steps provided below. 

The Best Ways to Improve a Work Environment

You must fix a toxic work environment in the shortest order if you want the business to achieve its objectives and if you want to maintain and retain a happy workforce.

Acknowledging the problem

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In starting the process, managers must first acknowledge the problems and issues that are present among employees. Instead of walking around and pretending as if the workplace is not toxic, embrace the issues and identify how negatively they are impacting the workplace. This recognition can be an opportunity for learning and growth as managers can now act. Do your best to understand what is appropriate and what must not be tolerated or accepted. 

Take Responsibility

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Attempts to repair a toxic culture start by accepting responsibility for actions, tasks, and mistakes when appropriate. This is a cultural norm that both management and subordinates must adhere to. Whenever employees neglect their professional duties and have other staff members picking up the pieces, this communicates the level of disrespect and disregard they have for authority.

Instead of letting things like this slide, be proactive as a manager and promote responsibility in the office by pointing out negative behaviors, addressing who may fall short, and employing disciplinary action for a lack of accountability. This should encourage persons to practice taking ownership of tasks and mistakes.

Expectations

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A good way to boost morale and fix a toxic work environment is to collectively set expectations that are fair and attainable, then exceeding them. This can be good for business and provide constant positive exchanges among everyone in the organization. It also helps everyone feel vital to the team. 

In a professional and comfortable work environment, managers should expect that employees take ownership of their attitudes and actions, work collaboratively on projects, and offer solutions to problems when they arise. 

Rewards and Recognition

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Where it is feasible managers, can consider rewarding superstar employees with benefits, promotions, raises in salary, and even performance-based bonuses and incentives. This can make employees feel special and appreciated for their efforts, hard work, and initiatives. 

Employees are more motivated and inspired when they know employers are going to reward and acknowledge them formally for their contributions. 

There are also several non-financial incentives or cheaper methods to thank and recognize employees that can reinforce good behaviors. These may include exclusive passes to games and events, small gifts, and treats, and dedicate parking spaces. Acknowledgment lessens the likelihood of a toxic environment.

Communicate and Observe

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Managers can take a stand for openness and honest communication to fix a toxic work environment. This includes freely sharing information, keeping an open mind, and encouraging others to share.

When employees do not feel comfortable speaking up, they keep everything bottled up inside. Facilitating an environment that fosters transparency, vulnerability, and honesty ensures you are listening to what employees have to say and acknowledging them. 

Observing the operations of the company to see where improvements can be made is essential as there might be something in your mode of operation that is triggering employees to be toxic. It may be your communication flow or hierarchy, your company culture, managers, or norms that may promote unwanted traits. Observation allows you to detect, strategize, and erase where necessary.

Get on Board

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The leadership style practiced at a company plays a key role in how healthy the organization is. Managers must understand that the process to change a toxic work environment starts with leadership. When effective leadership is absent, it can result in favoritism, negative mindsets, a lack of accountability, and employees feeling dispensable and undermotivated.

Leaders are supposed to lead, get on board, and exert the maximum effort needed in clearing up toxicity and solve miscommunication.

Take Actions

After understanding all the components that are needed to fix a toxic work environment, it becomes time to devise a plan to tackle the problem. The plan must have strategies and contingencies that cover you if the plans go awry. You should get employees involved too since without them, the plan is half-baked. Including them can also encourage employee innovation

Sticking to the plan and seeing it through to the end regardless of mishaps or stagnation is non-negotiable. You must remember that to change a toxic work environment is never immediate and improvements may happen gradually. Do not give up, as addressing the toxicity is likely going to secure a healthy organizational future and foster positive work culture. While your action plan to improve the work environment is in effect, you can create another plan to maintain the stable environment when it comes along.

You can do this to fix a toxic work environment by conducting surveys regularly, maintaining open communication, being supportive, and addressing deep-rooted organizational barriers and boundaries. Do everything possible to get employees to see your vision. They must believe that what you are working toward can result in a positive, productive, and employee-friendly work environment. 

Conclusion

Remember that fixing a toxic work environment that cannot happen overnight. You must engage in dialogue with your employees to help them understand the main objective. Take care in gauging their expectations on how the process may look and address the gaps where necessary.

It may come as a shock when you see changes in your environment once the employees understand that you are honestly trying to improve the workplace and culture of the organization.

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