Employees are stressed out, frustrated, and disengaged with the toxic work culture. As such, they don't do their best work and might leave the organization. In fact, one study reveals that employees are ten times more likely to quit if a company has a toxic workplace culture.
To keep team members engaged, you must address any signs of toxic work culture. Bad culture can emerge in any team, from small business to scale-up or multinational. A bad culture leads to high turnover rates, hurting your revenue stream.
Simply put, a healthy company makes more money. You should be aware of specific indicators of toxic work culture to prevent it from hurting your team and bottom line.
Beware of These 7 Toxic Work Culture Signs
Workplace toxicity is a serious issue that impacts people's health, creativity, and team performance. It can also hurt the business itself, leading to low employee morale, high levels of employee turnover, high costs of training new employees, lower profits, and lost productivity due to sick days.
If you notice these signs of a toxic work environment in your workplace, it may be time to look at the culture of your team.
1 Low creativity and bad work environment across the team
If there is low creativity and morale across the team, there is likely something wrong with the team environment.
If people aren't excited about coming to work or taking on new challenges, your team probably lacks enthusiasm. One cause can be micromanagement from management which causes stress for employees and lowers their motivation.
When you hear people complaining about not knowing how to deal with a toxic work environment, something is wrong. Creativity thrives when people feel free to express themselves openly and honestly. If people are not doing that, they are hiding something or afraid to speak up.
2 Work is never finished before the deadline
Work often doesn’t feel achievable before the deadline in toxic workplace culture. If deadlines are constantly being pushed back or employees are always struggling to meet their goals on great terms, it may mean that there is too much work being put on each employee's plate.
This cycle can lead to burnout and ultimately lower productivity in your organization.If your employees are constantly working overtime and still unable to hit their targets, it could be a sign that they feel like they don't have enough time to do their jobs well.
This feeling can be either an unrealistic deadline or an impossible workload. Either way, it's not healthy for your team and will harm productivity.
3 High turnover among employees
People leaving in bulk or having a short tenure on average is a clear sign of a bad work environment. A high turnover rate can also cause stress among other employees who have worked hard to keep things going while losing colleagues due to poor management or toxic culture.
When employees leave in large numbers, it could be because they've been unhappy with the workplace environment and have felt unsupported by management or other colleagues in their roles. If this is happening at your company, take steps to improve morale among staff members.
This way, employees feel more supported by those around them. Also, workers are less likely to leave due to dissatisfaction with their roles within an organization overall (which will also reduce costs related to hiring/training new staff members).
4 Confusion and ineffective collaboration
Unfocused or confused teams often characterize bad company culture. In some cases, a lack of transparency is to blame. Performance suffers when employees fail to understand their responsibilities or why they are doing a particular task.
Furthermore, a lack of focus can cause problems in other workflows and perpetuate dysfunction in a team. In these cases, employees can fail to collaborate effectively, resulting in different team members completing the same task multiple times.
Similarly, if the way you delegate tasks is confusing, projects could go off track entirely. This environment is detrimental to productivity and can permanently damage relationships between team members.
5 Teams are extremely siloed
When work doesn't interconnect and people don't communicate, getting work done becomes hard.
There's no collaboration between departments or teams, and they only interact when necessary. A lack of communication makes everyone feel like they are working alone in their little bubble. These are all signs of toxic company culture.
Siloed teams can cause morale issues and frustration from employees who don't feel like they're part of something bigger than just their job. Furthermore, siloed teams can lead to poor communication practices at work, leading to mistakes being made along the way.
Ultimately, these practices result in lost revenue for your company if left unchecked long enough.
6 Fear of failure or management
One of the most toxic work environment signs is fear.
People stop communicating or genuinely speaking their minds. When employees are afraid to fail, they don't learn anything new. Also, they're less likely to try new things. Consequently, a business that doesn’t try new things can miss out on creative solutions to problems or tremendous time-saving opportunities.
Another type of workplace fear can include a fear of management. This fear can manifest in various ways. For example, employees could avoid direct communication with their managers. Similarly, employees may not speak up when they see something going wrong.
Workers may also avoid talking to their managers directly about problems at work.
7 Interpersonal tensions between teams
Constant gossiping and conflict between teams and team members can cause tension in the workplace and make it an uncomfortable environment to operate. If people aren't willing to share information and instead keep secrets from each other, then that's a sign that there's not much trust among your employees.
If there's no trust between teams and departments, you can bet that your company isn't going to move forward as quickly as it should be able to. This environment can lead to resentment, which eventually leads to poor communication and unhappy employees.
As a result, workers aren't ready to go the extra mile for their company. Why would they when they don't feel valued by their peers or bosses?
How to how to deal with a toxic work environment in 6 steps
A positive work culture produces high productivity that results in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. Some characteristics of positive work culture include employees who feel valued, respected, and empowered to make decisions that positively impact customers and the company.
To prevent a toxic work culture, business owners must focus on fostering collaboration, innovation, and inclusion. Here are some simple, yet effective ways to help foster an environment of positivity at work.
1 Break down silos
Create cross-team tasks and projects. The first step to building a positive work culture is breaking down silos. That means tasking teams with cross-departmental projects, encouraging collaboration, and creating an environment where employees feel like they can ask anyone in the company for help or advice.
This first step will help everyone become more familiar with one another and help build trust between different departments. Simultaneously, encouraging collaboration allows employees to work together on projects that require more than one person's talents.
As a result, employees learn about each other's strengths and weaknesses. These insights enable your team to help each other complete tasks in simple but meaningful ways.
2 Start an open conversation in safe environments
Speak with individual employees and encourage them to give feedback on the current situation. Also, consider any solutions they have in mind.
This feedback can be anonymous or through a 1:1 on videoconferencing apps like Zoom. It's crucial that employees feel comfortable talking about their feelings with each other and with management.
If you notice unproductive types of communication styles emerging in your team, deal with them before they become standard across the workplace. Assertive communication should be the default within your team at all times.
Encourage conversations to occur more frequently by ensuring that they occur in safe environments. Employees need to feel free to speak without fear of retribution or ridicule from their coworkers or supervisors.
Talking about sensitive topics like diversity or sexual harassment can be difficult for some people, especially if they don't feel safe doing so.
However, suppose your organization wants to cultivate a more inclusive environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas. In that case, it needs to create spaces where people feel comfortable talking openly about these issues without fear.
3 Revise your company policies
Another important way to nurture a positive work culture is revising your company policies. Employee discontent can come from current policies restricting or blocking them from doing their best work. If restrictions are holding employees back from achieving the company vision, they need to change.
Ensure policies don't block the type of culture you are trying to create. For example, if employees want to work from home but your policy states they must be in the office, this can cause conflict. If there are policies restricting people from doing their best work, get rid of them.
You may need to make company policies more flexible and remain open to reconsidering future changes as your workforce evolves.
4 Set a clear and realistic company vision and milestones
A company vision statement should be clear enough so that anyone who reads it can understand what the company is trying to achieve. But not so vague that employees can't understand how to contribute towards those goals.
With a clear and realistic company vision, teams can complete work on time and fully understand what they are working towards. Milestones are essential to divide goals into smaller, more easily achievable tasks.
Task management software allows managers to better manage their teams by tracking progress more efficiently. Furthermore, managers can ensure that milestones are completed on time. One of the best benefits is increased visibility into what everyone on the team is doing.
This visibility means that managers can see if someone is struggling with a particular assignment or needs additional resources.
5 Encourage leadership to lead by example
If you want employees to be creative thinkers and problem-solvers, you need to lead by example. Managers should hold themselves accountable for their actions and encourage others to do the same.Leadership plays a central role in fostering a positive work culture.
First, define what activities you would like to see and have leadership take charge. This practice will also allow leaders to lead by example. Second, make decisions based on data instead of relying on gut instinct or personal preferences.
Unconscious biases are damaging to collaborative work environments. By relying on data, business leaders can encourage a work culture that values differing viewpoints or perspectives.
6 Review your reward systems
What are current intrinsic and extrinsic rewards? How are people being rewarded for successes and their overall performance? Rewards systems have been around for ages. They've been used in schools, corporations, and other organizations to motivate people to perform better.
The basic idea behind a rewards system is that employees receive a reward if they do something that positively impacts the company. This can be working across teams more, reaching a deadline, bringing in a new large client or organizing an awesome team event.
A rewards system can be as simple as giving out an extra holiday bonus. An intrinsic reward could include giving an employee the trust to lead a meeting or presentation for the first time.
By recognizing and rewarding employees for hard work, you help them feel valued, which makes them more likely to stick around and put in the extra effort when times get tough.
A toxic work environment lacks encouragement and appreciation for its workers. It's characterized by a lack of trust, poor communication, and a lack of clear goals and expectations. Many toxic work environment characteristics may be evident to business leaders, while others go unnoticed.
The way to create a positive work culture is to focus on what matters most to your employees. If you want to build a rewarding workplace, you need to create an environment where your people can thrive and grow.
You also need to ensure they know they are appreciated, so they keep coming back every day. Building a positive work culture means creating a culture of recognition.