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Build Your Career Office Life

3 Telltale Signs of a Toxic Workplace (and How to Solve It)

3 Telltale Signs of a Toxic Workplace (and How to Solve It)
Credit: Pra Chid/Shutterstock

Have you ever worked in a professional atmosphere that made you feel drained, passionless or uneasy? Your environment can have a serious effect on your attitude and performance. It doesn't matter how great a company is or how well its employees are compensated; if the work environment is tense, the workers won't be efficient.

As a leader, you'll want to create a supportive and inspiring atmosphere.

"A strong, unified company culture is a competitive advantage that can reduce employee turnover," said Andee Harris, chief engagement officer of HighGround. "Not only does a positive company culture help retain current employees, it's also beneficial in the recruiting process, as it can attract top talent."

Avoid workplace issues by keeping your environment in check. Here are telltale signs that you have a toxic work culture, and what you can do to solve it.

If an employee is putting in time and effort to deliver their best performance, they should be recognized for it. Going above and beyond what is expected without being acknowledged might leave workers feeling unvalued, discouraging them from further improvements.

Harris noted that "when recognition is absent, morale goes down, and your company culture begins to suffer." However, when managers show their appreciation, employees have a better understanding of what's expected of them.

Leaders should want their workers to improve and progress toward success. Staying in the same position for years without advancement opportunities may be due to poor management.

"If you find a certain team has a higher turnover rate or a lack of mobility in comparison to other teams, take a look at the manager," said Harris. "It's quite possible the manager isn't coaching team members toward success."

Employers should be more collaborative and supportive, Harris added. Training and trust can enhance company culture.

Without passion, work is just work – and nothing more. If employees are disengaged or disinterested in their work, they likely won't be as committed, leading to a culture issue, said Harris.

"Companies with great cultures often hire workers who they think embody their mission and core values – and they need to ensure that that passion continues long after an employee's first day, he said. Without drive, the entire company can suffer the effects of a detached employee.

What can you do to confront the issue and begin changing your workplace into a more positive, nurturing one? Harris outlined three key steps:

Admit there's an issue. The first step to tackling any issue is acceptance. If you evaluate your company's culture and find signs of toxicity, you don't have time for denial. Admit there's a problem and focus on solving it.

Identify contributing factors. Next, you should ask yourself some key questions, according to Harris: Are there any obvious employee conflicts? If so, how are they resolved? Are senior leaders transparent when communicating company performance and goals? Be honest when answering – lying to yourself will only hurt your company more.

Measure employee engagement. Employees might struggle in a toxic work environment, but they can also contribute to one. To keep workers on task, leaders should use pulse surveys and check-ins to measure employee engagement. Changes can then be implemented based on results.

Sammi Caramela

Sammi Caramela is a recent graduate of Rowan University, where she majored in writing arts and minored in journalism. She currently works as a Purch B2B staff writer while working on her first novel in her free time. Reach her by email, or check out her blog at sammisays.org.

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