Toxic Work Culture: What are the Signs?

According to Freshbooks, we spend about a third of our lives at work. Naturally, your employees should be punching in every day expecting encouragement and growth. A proverbial home away from home. But for many business owners, the work environment they provide is the stark opposite. 

Instead of warm milk and fresh cookies, you’re serving up tap water, crippling fear, and inedible disappointment. Sure, that might sound a bit overboard, but put yourself in your employees’ shoes.

What type of employee experience are you cultivating across your organization? If they’re not strolling into the office with Cheshire grins and a pep in their step, then news flash. You might want to reevaluate your company culture.

Studies have shown that toxic work culture can be detrimental to an individual’s health. Workplace stress in particular has cost the U.S. an average of $500 billion a year. That’s not to mention losing 550 million workdays on top of that. 

Imagine only being able to operate a quarter of the year because your employees can’t handle the company culture. If you’re the ringleader of an unhealthy work environment, it won’t be long before you suffer the consequences.

The good news is there’s a remedy to such an illness. And that starts with assessing everything you offer regarding work culture to identify what you stand to gain.

How Toxic is a Toxic Work Culture

How Toxic is a Toxic Work Culture?

What exactly is toxic work culture? Culture is a culmination of the values and processes your company promotes and believes in. Therefore, toxic work culture refers to a negative and toxic environment where employees are subject to mistreatment and disrespect.

Leaders that weaponize fear, shame, and guilt tactics to push employees to work only do more harm than good. Instead of reaching your business goals, your business will be at risk of failing. Cultivating a high-pressure culture won’t yield the results you expect. Your employees will leave the office feeling demotivated and uninspired.

Before you know it, you’ll have lost half your team—and rightfully so. Employees long to work for a company that believes in what they believe in. Your values and morals are evident in your company culture, no matter how much you try to mask them upfront. Employees also value gratitude and recognition for the work they put in. 

The driving factor behind every toxic workplace is leadership. It’s easy to blame someone else, but it’s up to you to create a happy, healthy, wealthy culture. Be intentional about analyzing your management style, and how that might affect your employees.

Are you like Charles Miner from The Office, a humdrum CFO who doesn’t know the first thing about the industry his business is in? Or maybe you’re like Michael Scott, eccentric in all respects, but lacking in productive delivery.

Regardless of your current management style, changing your tune is the best way to remedy a negative work environment. Focus on creating healthy relationships with your team, and you’ll be amazed at how everything else falls into place.

Wizard of Sales® is dedicated to elevating your leadership and cultivating healthy company culture. Your business reputation depends on it, so depend on us to change your narrative. Book a Demo with our team today!

Toxic Work Environment  =  Unhealthy Environment

A toxic work environment is like a parasite that sucks the life out of your business. In many ways, it becomes quite unhealthy for your employees—literally. An abusive work environment can lead to physical and mental health problems for your staff. As a result, productivity and morale decrease right along with job satisfaction.

Consider a manager who uses intimidation tactics instead of treating their employees like human beings. Employees may experience heightened levels of stress or anxiety, proven to cause other health concerns. 

Long-term, toxic work culture can even affect talent retention and force employees to search for greener pastures elsewhere. It’s clear that toxic workplace behaviors can have a negative ripple effect that spreads like wildfire. And if you don’t fix it soon, you’ll be left picking up the charred and flame-kissed pieces.

Are American Workplaces Really ToxicAre American Workplaces Really Toxic?

When it comes to workplaces in the United States, employees aren’t unfamiliar with the sentiment. According to Forbes, 23% of the American workforce say they have a bad work environment. In addition, nearly 14% say they don’t have a good manager-employee relationship.

Really, all it takes to truly gauge your company’s toxicity is reading the room. Are your employees comfortable communicating with you, or do you hold the same popularity as Voldemort himself? 

Maybe it’s time to interact with the individuals who keep your business running instead of channeling your inner Ebenezer Scrooge. If you remain unapproachable, it won’t be long before a chemical reaction occurs. Hazmat suits and gas masks shouldn’t have to be the uniforms of choice. If you’re letting toxicity engulf your company culture, it’s time to administer the antidote.

Know The Signs

Identifying the signs of a toxic workplace isn’t as simple as reading the street name on a traffic light. It requires a bit more analysis than that, but it’s a crucial step to take before you’re able to cut out the cancer.

Below is a list of the six most common signs of a toxic workplace to keep an eye out for.

Lack of Company Core Values

The first sign of toxic work culture is a lack of core company values. Without boundaries in place, pretty soon employees will assume anything and everything is allowed which sours professionalism and productivity.

Core values set expectations for both employees and managers regarding day-to-day tasks and long-term goals. Employees become disengaged and unproductive without a clear sense of direction. Additionally, a lack of company values can lead to employee burnout. Workers won’t feel connected to the work they’re doing or the organization that they’re a part of.

Establishing clear guidelines for behaviors and responsibilities creates an environment where people know what’s expected of them, fostering greater engagement. Company values also create a sense of community and belonging.

High Turnover

Another telltale sign of an unhealthy culture is a high rate of turnover. Let’s face it. If you started a new job and watched five employees quit within your first week, you’d be pretty alarmed. Employees have no problem leaving a toxic job that doesn’t benefit them. 

In fact, research shows that 85% of employees would leave their current jobs if they could find a better alternative. This is a major red flag for any company. A high turnover rate indicates an unhealthy work environment where employees are unhappy and unfulfilled. It can also indicate ineffective management practices which can have negative implications for the future success of your business.

High Rates of Tardiness/Absenteeism

If your employees are always late or calling in sick, you might want to analyze the environment you’re providing. It could be toxic, and that’s causing high rates of absence. A toxic workplace is one where employees feel like they can’t do their best work or be their true selves.

This could be due to a number of factors including:

  • Discrimination or bullying
  • Unrealistic expectations with harsh consequences
  • Lack of trust or support

If you’re seeing toxic behavior in your workplace, it’s important to address it head-on. Otherwise, you’ll continue to see high rates of employee absenteeism and risk losing your top talent.

Open CommunicationOpen Communication

Communication is the bedrock of any relationship, personal or professional. Failing to promote an open-door policy with your employees may cause your business to suffer. If they’d rather suffer through hurdles than ask for guidance, that’s a sign there’s a disconnect in communication. 

To promote a healthy work environment and encourage open communication, managers should foster trust and respect with their teams. Give consistent feedback on performance. Engage in frequent check-ins with employees to address any concerns or issues that arise. 

Intentionally encourage dialogue between team members by fostering an atmosphere of collaboration and teamwork. By prioritizing strong communication, you’ll reap the benefits of higher engagement and customer satisfaction.

Employees’ fear of failure

While setting expectations is essential, be careful in the way that you punish employees for lacking in results. If your employees are sick with the fear of failing, consider who’s causing such an emotion. The hard truth? You may very well be the boogeyman they’re afraid of. 

The root of the problem could be a toxic culture that you’ve unknowingly established. Unrealistic rules that are impossible to follow lead to a feeling of helplessness among employees. If your business is rife with this kind of toxicity, it’s no wonder your staff is petrified of making mistakes. 

Ask yourself if you’ve been setting unrealistic expectations or demanding perfection from your team. Remember, employees are human beings, not machines. They’re bound to make mistakes now and again – and that’s okay!

Role Confusion

The last sign of toxic work culture is role confusion. It’s important to establish every employee’s role and description so they know what their responsibilities are. Role confusion is a sign of an environment where employees are constantly micromanaged or left to fend for themselves. If the lines are blurred, it can often cause a decrease in productivity and morale. 

How Do You Handle a Toxic Work Culture?

Are workers feeling undervalued or unsupported? Is there a lack of professional development opportunities? Or perhaps poor communication or unrealistic goals are contributing to low morale and employee disengagement. 

The best remedy for toxic work culture in your business is to change the way you think about and manage your workplace. There are a few key steps you can take to make this happen:

  1. Define what a toxic workplace looks like for your business.
  2. Evaluate your current workplace practices and policies.
  3. Create a plan to address toxic behavior in the workplace.
  4. Implement changes in the way you manage your workplace.
  5. Evaluate the results of your changes and continue to make improvements as needed.

Maintaining solid company culture is essential to staying in business. To promote a healthy workplace environment, understand the signs of toxicity and how to avoid them. Stay proactive in creating a safe space for your employees. In return, you’ll retain more talent, secure a better reputation, and achieve a stronger brand image.

Our team excels in helping home service business owners like you cultivate a company culture that keeps on giving. Book a demo with Wizard of Sales® today to improve your leadership and work environment.