Culture & Retention Featured Recruiting

5 Experts’ Secrets to Fixing a Toxic Work Environment

Corporate culture can make or break the job for most people. In order for employees to thrive, culture is just as important as the job itself. However, despite its importance, toxic workplaces are prevalent, and often go on unresolved because employees don’t feel they can speak up.

In fact, according to a 2018 report from Warble, 63 percent of employees have witnessed behavior at work that was disruptive to culture, productivity and the business but did not report it to management or HR. This creates a toxic work environment in any workplace, making it hard for companies to recover once it has soaked into their foundation.

Many companies, though, have successfully turned their toxic work environments back into positive, well-oiled machines. Here are tips from company leaders who have successfully done just that:

Listen and learn.

When leaders ignore the warning signs of toxic work environments, it’s likely to have ramifications on the overall success of the company. Toxic company culture leads to unhappy employees, which increases absenteeism and results in a high turnover rate — both of which are detrimental to the company’s success.

If you’re unsure where to start in turning around the toxic culture that has formed in your company, turn to the employees. Validate their concerns and listen to their problems. This allows you to not only address real concerns and make changes but also to show your employees that you’re making an effort to improve the current situation.

Nate Masterson, HR Manager for Maple Holistics

Identify the source.

Find the source of the toxicity. If the entire culture is toxic, it’s time to evaluate leadership. Identify the highest level of leadership contributing to the toxicity, directly or indirectly, and then work your way down.

Some leaders may actually be the source of the toxicity. Others, while not toxic themselves, may contribute to the dysfunction by not addressing issues. Addressing leadership issues is not easy, but it’s the most crucial step for turning around the company culture.

Sylvia Melena, Founder & CEO of Melena Consulting Group

Acknowledge the problem.

Speak the truth. Leaders have to acknowledge to the organization that the culture is off-track, what steps are being taken to correct the course, and the expected timeframe. Use the employee feedback you’ve collected to help you. Be honest with your employees about what you can and cannot, or will and will not do, and why.

People generally respond to sincerity, transparency, and vulnerability. Trust yourself and your employees enough to give them this.

Sarah Morgan, Sr. Director of HR for SafeStreets USA

Emphasize competition within the self.

In sales positions and other related fields, a certain level of competition is healthy and may foster productivity. However, it’s important not to ever create an atmosphere where staff feels like they’re working against each other.

By placing an emphasis on teamwork and a group mentality, each staff member will develop a healthy sense of competition within themselves, rather than against any colleagues. This is generally more productive for individual, and improves a team’s overall, performance.

Beverly Friedmann, Content Manager of MyFoodSubscriptions 

Create An Empathetic Culture

Toxic cultures all lack one thing in common and that is empathy.

An empathetic attitude is absolutely necessary for a workplace leader, as this leadership style makes everyone feel like a team and increases productivity, morale, and loyalty in employees. Empathy demonstrates that you care and helps develop a deep sense of respect among co-workers.

Have one-to-one conversations with your employees. Invest time in small talk on any sensitive issues they have. Small personable conversations improve trust and professional relationships.

Nooria Khan, Content Marketer Executive at GigWorker