March 27, 2023
Written by UJJI Team
A workplace is considered toxic when the tasks, people, and surroundings interfere with your life. Your physical health may be negatively impacted by these disturbances, which may cause restless nights, a feeling of perpetual alertness, sweaty palms, and a racing heart. In addition, personal conflicts impairing productivity indicate a toxic work environment marked by intense drama and intrapersonal conflict. According to recent research, 70% of British workers claimed to have worked in toxic environments at some point in their careers.
As a manager, it is entirely your responsibility to prevent a hazardous work environment. Unfortunately, determining whether the workplace you oversee is healthy can often take a lot of work.
Here are some warning signals to watch out for:
According to Bohemond, toxic cultures frequently normalise and laud a lack of healthy boundaries, enticing you to put work before everything else. If you push your teams—whether based in the office or remotely—to the point of burnout and tiredness, you can expect them to follow suit. Perhaps you demand that workers stay as late as they do at work or that they react to emails and messages at all hours on the weekend.
A crucial element in the concept of toxic relationships is contempt. For instance, you might roll your eyes at a staff member in a meeting or even dismiss their suggestions, only to take them up when another employee makes the same suggestion a short while later. As a result, your employees' confidence at work declines, eventually impacting their job.
One can frequently determine a workplace's emotional well-being by observing how its employees interact with one another. Are they all grinning and chatting while making coffee in the morning, or are most of them just grinning and typing? Do they send offensive messages laden with hate or share jokes and memes on Slack? The atmosphere of your company and people's body language can give you a sense of its energy.
It's obvious when there is a lack of trust between coworkers in a toxic workplace. An organisation where the management team's offices face the employees' desks, allowing them to observe action on the floor, might be an example. Or it might be a workplace where bosses constantly ping their direct reports to see how they're performing.
It eventually turns toxic when employees are not permitted to make any mistakes in the workplace. Then, your employees will start doing everything it takes to avoid being in the line of responsibility and to move ahead of their colleagues—like not sharing work-related information with teammates or throwing peers under the bus when anything goes wrong.
Because there is no mentoring or assistance to aid their growth from your side, many people in toxic workplaces are forced to "find it out" on their own. It has gotten worse because losing contact with your team is much simpler. And it harms workers from marginalised populations, who already tend to receive very little help to turn potential into growth possibilities, and entry-level workers who are left to their own devices in such a workplace, leading to demotivation and disillusionment.
Mental stress may start to have a physical impact on your staff in a toxic workplace. Long-term physical health can be impacted by being in "fight or flight" mode, and you may start to suffer some of the more typical signs of stress, anxiety, or depression, such as digestive problems, sleep disturbances, exhaustion, pains, and panic attacks.
In a toxic work environment, employees begin to mentally shut down and disengage from their work, team, and business. For example, people may turn off their cameras during virtual world meetings and make brief remarks. As a result, people begin to depart toxic workplaces at significant rates over time.
The UK government defines workplace bullying and harassment as toxic behaviour. However, it is defined more precisely as behaviour that intimidates or offends someone. The Equality Act of 2010 makes harassment illegal; therefore, you need to recognise it when it occurs and take appropriate action as an employer.
Bullying in and of itself is not illegal, but when it results in harassment or discrimination, it is. As a result, it's critical to be aware of workplace bullies and has a thorough grasp of their nature.
Harassment in the workplace occurs when a hostile environment is created for an employee, and their dignity is compromised. The anti-harassment statute is also applicable in the following situations:
An employee is upset by witnessing harassment, an employee is harassed because they are associated with someone who has a specific "protected trait," and an employee is considered to have a certain "protected characteristic" when they do not.
According to UK law, discrimination occurs when a person is subjected to unfair treatment because of one or more of the following protected characteristics:
Pregnancy and maternity issues, colour, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, marriage, civil partnerships, employees' adherents' religions or worldviews, age, sex, and disability are all factors to consider.
Discrimination includes, but is not limited to when someone is denied a job, training opportunity, or promotion due to ethnicity or religion.
The ability to differentiate instruction to meet the requirements of every student, whether those who learn at a slower pace or those who are gifted and benefit from enrichment activities, distinguishes an inclusive learning environment from the prior mainstreaming. Students advance on various learning levels, even in a general education classroom. Therefore, you must give activities and classes that adhere to the same standards using a variety of approaches and techniques to fulfil the demands of your employees.
While finding what works for the staff members within the instructional setting is the aim of an inclusive learning environment, there are a few general concessions that may do to get you ready and guarantee an inclusive atmosphere.
Getting to know your staff and fostering good relationships with each of them is one of the most crucial steps you can take to ensure the inclusive atmosphere is successful. This could take the form of unofficial polls to determine how individuals learn best, interaction-level observations, or one-on-one discussions to determine their needs.
All workers at the company must be aware of this fact and agree that they will be allowed to make errors as long as they try to learn from them.
The days of sitting a youngster aside with a colouring page while others practised reading because they had difficulty hearing, seeing, or understanding have long passed. You must accept that every child can learn and hold everyone to high standards as instructors. This doesn't imply that everyone on your staff will be able to perform at the same standard of excellence. Most importantly, we should aid them in advancing along their path.
Small and interactive centres are among the finest strategies to reach a range of learners. Employees with similar abilities can be placed together to develop at their own rates, or people of different abilities might be put together to share knowledge. Which is best in each scenario depends on talent and activity. The objective is to give them time to work together and exchange ideas.
Let's face it: Remediating a toxic workplace is difficult. But it's conceivable.
In a People Management article, Before it's too late, toxic environments can be tackled, according to Values author Ed Mayo. "In a supportive environment, possible cheating or bullying are dealt with immediately before they are repeated, made public, and scrutinised. After that, one can take action. As a result, there isn't a pattern of poor behaviour that keeps happening, which is a sign of a toxic culture.
By doing the following, HR can take proactive measures to assist in locating, addressing, and resolving the underlying causes of a toxic work environment:
• Make an effort to pinpoint the root cause of the toxic behaviour. For example, is it a specific person? A division? or more broadly dispersed?
• Collaborate with the staff to comprehend their issues, accept them, and develop potential solutions.
• Conduct thoughtful conversations with all people engaged in a conflict.
• Develop programs to promote cooperation in a secure atmosphere to reestablish confidence.
• Find ways to encourage workers to appreciate or remember how to have fun at work.
• To encourage staff members to understand it's acceptable to make errors, admit them, and find benefits from things that have gone wrong, promote a monthly "mistakes" meeting.
• Instead of fostering a culture of fixed mindsets, work towards fostering a culture of growth.
• Consider if persistently toxic individuals can be trained and motivated or whether they would require termination for the benefit of the business.
• Draw attention to inappropriate behaviour, and then explain why it is inappropriate and what you will do to stop it from happening again.
• Look closely at the motivations influencing behaviour. If these don't align with business principles, have serious discussions with senior management.
• Remind staff members and managers of the positive things the organisation and its teams accomplish.
• Provide incentives for good deeds and behaviour.
Workplace toxicity is more prevalent than ever. Whether overt or covert, it stresses the employees out physically and mentally. Also, it costs businesses money because of decreased production and sick days.
A supportive environment needs to be created both at work and outside of it to tackle the problem. Even while one person can't improve a whole organisation, they can at least guarantee that their well-being is maintained.