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How To Cure A Toxic Environment At Work

Workplace toxicity is a concern for businesses small and large, and the sooner it is addressed by the employer, the better. It only takes “one bad apple to spoil the bunch” because a dissatisfied employee brings down morale quickly. Complaining is contagious and causes productivity to come to a halt, making a company suffer its consequences. Rather than ignore the ‘squeaky wheel,’ it’s best for employers to counteract the problem before it affects everyone’s performance negatively. 

The aftermath left behind by negative employees is impactful. It creates a shortage of workers who give up on their employers to seek employment elsewhere. It causes more instances of absences, which adds to the workload of present employees who carry the burden of their co-workers. To adequately address the problem of toxicity in the workplace, it’s essential to know what causes it to happen. Over the years I have discussed this recurring problem with many leaders of small, mid and large companies and have heard what has worked for them to substantially reduce or eliminate toxic work environments. 

The following steps can be taken by employers who are currently experiencing a lack of positiveness at work. Each idea has a positive impact on the workplace and is something that employers can implement instantly.

Let Employee Voice Their Grievances Without Fear of Retribution

Employees need someone to vent occasionally. Employers can prevent chronic complaining from occurring by offering to be the problem-solver in every situation. By making it very clear that all grievances concerning the workplace are to be taken up with upper management, employers set expectations in place. When employees see that they can come to their managers to discuss the things they find dissatisfying without being singled out or jeopardizing their jobs, they’ll complain to the right parties, not their co-workers.

Come Up With Viable Solutions That Employees Implement Right Away

Employers should focus on solving problems before they have time to worsen. Finding solutions to the issues that employees share in private makes them feel heard and validated, and also acknowledged that there is a matter requiring attention that doesn’t go unnoticed.

Focus On Building a Strong and Resilient Team

Every workplace is a melting pot of personalities, each contributing something unique and vital to the team. Helping employees understand how to work with people with differences in opinions, beliefs, and behaviors is imperative. It’s a skill that many workers don’t possess because they haven’t been part of a successful team setting before. By choosing influential leaders to set examples of exemplary behavior, employers shift the focus from all the things that people perceive others to be doing wrong and instead emphasizes the many things that they’re doing well.

Set Expectations and Hold Every Person Accountable

Some employees go above and beyond what their employer asks of them, while others do the bare minimum to keep their jobs. Tension builds because some individuals are unable to carry their weight. By setting the same expectations for each employee, employers can create a system of measurement when it comes to performance. Accountability forces employees to learn very quickly to adapt to their environment or to seek employment elsewhere.

Reward exemplary behavior

When employees go above expectations, they should receive acknowledgment for their efforts. It builds self-esteem and boosts morale, which benefits employers by increasing efficiency, reducing turnover, and addressing absenteeism. A suggestion that works for businesses of all sizes is to adopt an employee incentive program. Hosting a monthly luncheon to acknowledge all the hard work employees do is one way to excite and entice them to stay positive and focused on their goals.

Praise in Public But Suggest in Private

When there is negative behavior in the workplace, employers should not publicly call a person out on it. Instead, they can use the one-on-one time they set aside for every employee to address the issue. Employers should learn what makes the situation so challenging for their employees. Once hearing what they have to say, coming up with solutions together that benefit the disgruntled worker and the workplace helps. Employees feel like their feedback matters, and employers create an environment that is open, understanding, and proactive.

A toxic environment at work can lead to the demise of a company. That’s why it’s imperative to promote positivity and to deal with negativity as it comes up for staff. Companies that take the time to address dissatisfaction in the workplace stand a higher chance of turning things around before toxicity sets in, and turnover occurs. When employees feel seen, heard, and valued, they can overcome challenges without it taking down the entire workplace in the process.

 

Get in Touch with an Expert

At Barbachano International, we understand how important these human resource issues are for companies that operate globally. Feel free to contact us or visit our blog.

By Fernando Ortiz-Barbachano

President and CEO of Barbachano International (BIP), the premier executive search and leadership advisory firm in the Americas (USA, Mexico, Latin America, & Canada) with a focus on diversity and multicultural target markets. Since 1992, BIP and its affiliates have served over 50% of Fortune 500 Companies and have been recognized by Forbes as a Top 40 executive search firm. We are member-owners of NPAworldwide – the recruiting network with allied offices in over 50 countries.  Outplacement and Executive Coaching services are provided by our sister company Challenger Gray & Christmas.

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