Making your business a better place to work
If you’re experiencing low employee retention, poor employee performance or struggling to fill roles in your organisation, a toxic workplace might be to blame.
Having a toxic work environment can make it difficult for your employees to invest professionally in your organisation.
In fact, employees are ten times more likely to quit their job due to a toxic environment than low pay.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can turn a toxic workplace into a productive and healthy work environment.
What are the signs of a toxic workplace?
A toxic work environment can be caused by a variety of factors. Here are some of the most common reasons employees might find a workplace toxic:
Poor work/life balance
Favouritism and cronyism
Unrealistic performance expectations
Poorly defined roles and responsibilities
How to fix a toxic workplace
In order to fix a toxic workplace, focusing on trust, communication and flexibility is key. Here are just some ways that you can make your workplace less toxic, more productive and help your organisation maintain higher employee retention.
Give employees more flexibility
If there was one benefit to the work-from-home mandate introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was that many workers began to re-assess their work/life balance.
During lockdown, employees benefited from the extra flexibility remote working offered, striking a healthier balance between the office and family life.
With most COVID-19 restrictions now lifted, the majority of employees are choosing to stick with remote working or converting to a hybrid working method.
Giving employees more flexibility is a great way to reduce workplace toxicity. You don’t need to go fully remote, but giving employees the opportunity to work from home when necessary can greatly reduce office toxicity.
Not only do employees favour this freedom, but working from home can increase workplace productivity rather than hinder it: remote workers are 35% more productive than their office counterparts, with 41% lower absenteeism than office-based employees.
End favouritism and cronyism
A workplace that rewards family members or hires exclusively between friends is an unhealthy work environment.
Employees will feel as though there’s no room for advancement, observing others climb the ladder simply because they know the right people or went to the right university.
In order to end cronyism and favouritism, work perks should be afforded uniquely to those whose work performance merits the recognition.
If you’re guilty of handing out the odd favour to a friend or tend to favour one employee over the rest, know that it’s noticed by your other employees.
A sure-fire way to decrease employee retention is to give your workers the impression that advancement is only possible through having the right connections, not through hard work.
Revert to the classic system of meritocracy if you want to create a truly fair and liberal workplace.
Promote an inclusive environment
As work environments become more diverse, it’s important to foster a healthy, inclusive work environment for all employees.
A work environment that feels like a “boys club” or exclusive to minorities will quickly lose newcomers, and might even garner a reputation for being non-inclusive.
Having an open-minded space where everyone feels welcome is key: this can be achieved by promoting diversity and inclusion initiatives, encouraging group work and collaboration, and being culturally sensitive in the workplace.
Leadership based on fear and intimidation will never lead to a healthy, productive workplace. If your employees are afraid to come to you with a problem or even a suggestion for optimising workflow, your method of management isn’t as effective as it could be.
You’re also going to be missing out on great ideas from your employees who will be learning and evolving in their roles.
If you want to create an open, free workplace where employees can truly benefit from effective leadership, allow an open-door policy when it comes to your office. Encourage your employees to come to you with suggestions, questions and problems.
When your employees feel as if they’re on an equal footing with their management, they’re more likely to feel personally invested in your organisation and its success.
In strictly financial terms, employees are dependent on the success of your business or organisation. So, it’s only fair to assume they might wish to be part of discussions and enjoy open communication with management.
Open communication means being clear about the financial state of the company, reassuring employees about potential lay-offs and being transparent about the company’s goals and ambitions.
If you present clear goals for the company’s future, your employees will find it easier to imagine their own future within your organisation.
Effective communication also means being clear with your employees about what their roles and responsibilities entail within your company.
If you’re tasking your employees with lots of extra duties that fall outside their initial job description, they might feel as if you’re taking advantage, or not fairly compensating them for their extra work.
While the occasional extra task here and there is to be expected in any organisation, try your best to stick to the clearly outlined responsibilities in the initial job description.