30Sep, 2019

5 Ways to Fix a Toxic Workplace​


Generally, your office tends to become your second home; you spend more time at work with your co-workers than with family. Therefore it is crucial to have a good work environment. While stress is normal in most workplaces, excessive stress levels can make your workplace toxic and interfere with the productivity of the workforce. When employees are dispirited at work they end up carrying the baggage of that negativity back home; this disrupts their peace and leaving a serious impact on their physical and emotional health which in turn hampers productivity at work. Usually, actions like missed deadlines, lack of participation or uncooperative nature at work are signs that you have demotivated and disgruntled employees who are operating in a toxic environment.

Toxic environments can be very subtle at the start almost invisible but soon they start to cause a severe ripple effect spreading rapidly across the organization and before you know the entire organization turns a victim to this crippling disease. There are always corrective steps that can be taken to treat this unwelcome situation and enhance harmony and compassion among fellow colleagues.

One might think that financial incentives like higher salaries, bonus, incentives and reimbursements are a quick and easy way to turn things around. But you couldn’t be further away from the truth. Believe it or not, money plays a small part when it comes to employee motivation. Sure it’s important to pay your employees fairly and competitively, but it’s not the money that makes employees perform or go above and beyond the call of duty. It’s not a sustainable solution and won’t keep them going in the long run.

The obvious solution to this might point the employee in the direction of finding a new less stressful job, resulting in loss of talent for the organization. So before we set the ball rolling on how to tackle a toxic workplace, let’s first look at the signs that help diagnose a toxic work environment:

  1. Ineffective Communication – Communication is the pulse of an organization and shoddy, manipulative or non- existent communication hints toxicity.
  2. Petulant Co-workers – Constant conflicts, cold treatment or unacceptable behaviour that causes unnecessary conflicts, becomes a breeding ground for a toxic workplace. . (use one word throughout the article instead of synonyms.)
  3. Poor productivity – Leaders responsible for ensuring workplace productivity might sometimes lay down rigid and unaccommodating procedures thus increasing frustration at workplaces.
  4. Micromanaging Bosses – Constantly questioning employee efforts, lack of autonomy at work and distrust in subordinates leaves them feeling miserable and helpless.
  5. Unchecked Office Grapevine – Office gossip leads to rumours and causes more harm than we may perceive. This less than useful activity is an excellent indicator of toxic workplaces.

Despite these indicators of toxicity that frequent many organizations, there is very little done to control it. This gives rise to several consequential workforce problems and STRESS takes the credit for being number one in order of rank and precedence over other hazards. Stressed employees are less productive. So as business leaders it is important to tackle this toxicity by nipping it in the bud by simply adopting more effective strategies to reduce stress at work.

Businesses have begun to realize the impact stress and other toxic factors can have on workplace productivity and are willing to spend morbid amounts to fix these situations. Here are a few solutions that could help improve employee engagement and deter toxic environment:

  1. Set clear expectations: A factor that contributes to job toxicity is unclear requirements. If employees don’t know exactly what’s expected of them or if job expectations keep changing with little notice, employees get stressed. They may find themselves falling into the trap of not having a defined task list or plan of action. This frustrates them and they constantly battle insecurity and fear of job loss as they do not know if what they’re doing is enough. As a team leader, you are expected to draw out appropriate KRAs (Key Result Areas) and communicate them effectively to the employees. This helps them put their key deliverables into perspective and work accordingly. Encourage employees to approach you and jointly come up with strategies to achieve KRAs. This can relieve stress for both parties!
  2. Focus on better team management – Most team leaders only raise concerns and reprimand employees, as and when they see discrepancies. They often forget to acknowledge the efforts employees put it. Assuming that a hefty pay and a contract shall be good enough deals to keep their employees happy and going is a mistake. Very few team leaders realize the importance of appreciation. People want to be valued and make their presence felt. According to Forbes, 66% of employees wish to quit due to lack of appreciation, in millennials, this number jumps up to 76%. While only 54% of people from a management standpoint acknowledge this. It shows a sizeable disconnect between management perception and employees predisposition. Something as small as a ‘Thank You’ often does great wonders that a huge paycheck cannot. Occasional gifts and rewards also not only boost enthusiasm but make the employees feel like a prominent part of the organization.
  3. Managing interpersonal relationships – As a team leader, your team members will gravitate naturally towards you if you are more optimistic and upbeat. Employees are more likely to respond to you in a positive manner and will go beyond the call of duty for you. So be nice, remove the sting from your words when annoyed and try to gain perspective on the employees’ challenges as well. A little acknowledgement of efforts and genuine expressions of interest in your colleagues go a long way.
  4. Managing employee concerns – One of the major red flags during conflicts or their resolution is the ability to listen. While resolving conflicts it is important that bosses/ managers listen to their subordinates when issues come up. It helps to set up internal channels such as grievance handling policy, whistleblower policy or POSH in order to facilitate employees to raise concerns easily. Half the battle is won right there and it becomes easy to come up with workable solutions. So effective listening along with right channels to address grievances can not only solve problems but help employees feel much more secure in the organization.

It is a best practice to be vigilant and watch out for signs that are an indication of toxicity, so it can be controlled in time. One easy way to know how your employees feel about the work environment is through seamless tracker such as the mood tracker. Corporates have hugely misappropriated the importance of a mood tracker and the insights it brings to the table about the health of an organization. Moods and feelings are responsible for our behaviour everywhere and a firm grasp on them helps in lowering employee turnover which is a common phenomenon when workplace toxicity increases. A mood tracker helps detect various moods daily and helps managers and business leaders not only acknowledge them but also bring solutions to the table. This will help establish an accommodating and happy work culture and arrest workplace negativity.

Let’s Buzzz enables you to gauge the levels of workplace negativity with the help of a mood-o-meter and suggests quick corrective steps. Want to know more, click here to request a demo.



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