Toxic Behaviors Are Ruining Your Workplace Culture

If you’ve ever worked in a toxic workplace culture, you know how unpleasant it is.

In a toxic work environment, you are likely to encounter one or more of these signs:

  • A lack of trust and respect
  • Unwillingness to be transparent with information
  • Lots of finger-pointing and blame
  • Unhealthy competition
  • Workplace gossip and rumors
  • Over-emphasis on short-term outcomes
  • Pervasive “bro culture
  • High turnover

Not only are negative workplace cultures unpleasant and unhealthy for employees, toxic work environments burden an organization with all sorts of healthcare, disengagement and turnover costs.

Cut-throat, high-stress toxic environments are bad for business.

On the other hand, research shows engaged workplace cultures perform better in the areas of customer satisfaction, sales, share-price and employee productivity.

According to a study by the University of Michigan, qualities of a positive workplace culture can be distilled into 6 characteristics:

  1. Treat colleagues as friends.
  2. Offer compassion and kindness when colleagues are struggling.
  3. Avoid finger-pointing and blame.
  4. Motivate and inspire others.
  5. Emphasize why work is important and meaningful.
  6. Cultivate trusting relationships through interactions that focus on respect, gratitude and integrity.

What’s the lesson?

Perks such as ping pong tables and free snacks aren’t enough to build a strong culture and positively engaged employees.

Leaders must model, encourage and reward the simple, small (and inexpensive) behaviors that matter most. 

Marta Steele is a Partner at PeopleResults . Connect with her on Twitter @MartaSteele.

Marta Steele