The Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting phenomena marked a shift in the employment landscape, with workers now holding more bargaining power and placing greater importance on aligning their personal needs and values with those of their employers.
While organisations have rightly focused on initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion, some have overlooked the experiences of their current employees.
Toxicity is pervasive
A toxic work environment usually becomes clearly apparent through the extremes of harassment and bullying, but discrimination alone can result in high employee turnover and unproductive, demoralised employees, with three in five employees in one survey saying work-related stress led to a lack of interest, motivation and energy at work.
Toxic work environments also have a significant impact on mental and physical health, with work-related stress resulting in 32% of respondents reporting emotional exhaustion, and 44% reporting physical fatigue.
Toxic work environments ... have a significant impact on mental and physical health
Find the source
The first port of call must be to identify the sources of toxicity and address problem behaviours by directly addressing discrimination and harassment and develop a zero-tolerance policy which will at the same time build transparency and trust.
Creating a safe space with a confidential system in place to enable employees to report any incidents of toxicity or harassment is a must, as is offering mental health support and resources to those who may be struggling.
Companies that have effective channels of communication usually have around a 50% higher chance of reducing employee turnover.
However, there are more profound ways to purify the fish tank and eliminate toxicity from the business culture.
1. Make a deliberate and genuine effort to prioritise diversity, equality and inclusion
It is easy to fall into the echo chamber where everyone has similar thoughts and beliefs about building an equitable society and workplace but no one actions change.
The aim is to avoid workers feeling disrespected and undervalued, and to break the cycle of toxicity, bullying, discrimination, lack of support, poor communication and high turnover.
Diversity and inclusion will lead to greater innovation and collaboration in the workplace, ultimately benefiting businesses and individuals.
Creating a safe space with a confidential system in place to enable employees to report any incidents of toxicity or harassment is a must
2. Establish a culture that motivates and values employees
Changing the work culture from within and retaining current employees is more financially beneficial than continuing to hire new employees, which can cost companies on average £30,000.
To have an attractive, healthy culture, check your current employees’ experience – how is their wellbeing, what are their opportunities for development, and are they under too much pressure?
3. Provide a salary that reflects the hard work and experience of your employees
Pay them what their time, experience, responsibility and knowledge are worth to make them feel valued.
Don’t cut corners and make sure there is true equity.
If their responsibility increases, so should their pay and they should be able to afford the cost of living.
If you are not matching the salaries that your competitors are offering then that will result in an exodus of talent.
Recognise and reward your employees and understand that means different things for different people.
Changing the work culture from within and retaining current employees is more financially beneficial than continuing to hire new employees
4. Make the wellbeing of individuals a top priority
Enable employees to have a good work/ life balance to reduce work-related stresses and tensions or conflict in the workplace.
Culling toxicity needs to be a priority to ensure employee wellness and reduce any potential for burnout or high employee turnover.
Work stress and burnout often come from a lack of support, too much pressure, too great a workload, poor communication and unreasonable demands.
5. Promote collaboration and teamwork
When we feel we are all in it together and have opportunities to collaborate and use our skills to good effect, strong relationships are likely to be built.
This is also a good way to identify potential problem employees who won’t cooperate.
Culling toxicity needs to be a priority to ensure employee wellness
6. Invest in training and upskilling current employees
Enabling employees to develop their skills and enhance their expertise means they can grow and learn and continue to feel engaged and motivated at work.
7. Don’t put pressure on employees to participate in something they don't want to do
Forced participation in work projects such as presentations, or social or team-building activities, can be big enough for some people to want to leave.
Know your people and offer choices and develop employee engagement in other ways.
8. Offer flexible work arrangements for greater employee wellbeing
Workers with better flexibility enjoy greater autonomy and feel less fatigue as a result of lengthy commutes and less stress about childcare.
Reduce non-essential meetings both in person and online.
Know your people and offer choices
9. Welcome feedback and show deep listening
Fostering a supportive management style with feedback opportunities can create a more open workplace culture.
In one survey, 25% reported that they don’t feel safe voicing their onions on work-related issues communication and feedback.
Allow employees to feel safe enough to give candid feedback.
10. Encourage mentorship and coaching to build good work relationships
By providing feedback, offering support and guidance and understanding the needs of the individual, and getting to know them a little bit, managers can coach rather than dictate which creates a far more positive work environment.
If you enjoyed this, read: Does your workplace value toxicity over trust?