Not only can a toxic workplace decrease productivity, work quality and employee engagement, it can also lead directly to burnout and increase staff turnover. It can even be the downfall of a previously successful business.
But is toxicity always obvious?
Leaders are often unaware of what is going on amongst their teams but it is important that they recognise toxic behaviour early on so they can avoid creating a negative culture. They can do this through open communication and empathetic listening.
So, what are some of the common signs that a workplace is becoming toxic?
1. Wearing many hats
Are people expected to turn their hand to anything? If "We wear many hats round here" is a phrase that is commonly used in your workplace, the chances are it is toxic! It indicates that individual skills are not appreciated and people are not working to their strengths. This can lead to job dissatisfaction and burnout.
2. High turnover
If people are leaving and you can't put your finger on why, your culture is toxic. Implementing exit interviews can be a good way to gather honest data about why an employee is leaving, you are unlikely to get this beforehand as they will not want to rock the boat.
3. Negative gossip
This is a common one that often gets laughed off. Gossip itself isn't always a bad thing, in fact I often talk about how we can promote more POSITIVE gossip so people feel recognised. But when gossip becomes negative i.e. complaining about how someone has dealt with something, criticising that new employee, lack of vision etc, it depletes moral and enthusiasm. Leaders need to become 'professional eavesdroppers' and pick up on it early so issues can be resolved before they escalate.
4. Ineffective communication
Are you constantly waiting for replies to your emails? Never know what is going on within your team never mind other departments? Maybe there is repetition of work because wires are being crossed? If you often feel left in the dark, your work environment will not be as productive as it could be. It is also likely to have a negative impact on wellbeing. This can be resolved through regular check ins and implementing feedback channels - WhatsApp and Slack are great tools for this.
5. Lack of transparency
Ironically, this often occurs during periods of change which is when transparency is more valuable than ever! Leaders withholding information will lead to employees second guessing and focusing on the negatives. This is never going to be conducive to a healthy workplace.
Honesty is ALWAYS the best policy, no matter how difficult it may feel. The consequences of not being open will be far greater.
These are just a handful of signs your workplace is toxic, there are many more!! What are some you have experienced?