Do you have a Toxic workplace?

blog May 02, 2023

As human beings, we spend more than one-third of our life at work.

So make sure you enjoy what you do and where you do it!

And given that we spend so much time in this environment, and our occupation is often a key component to our sense of identity and self-worth, it is essential to our overall functioning in life to be able to operate in a supportive environment. 

This means a workplace that provides psychological safety and security and affords us a positive sense of our value and contribution. 

It also means a workplace that gives us an opportunity to meet our greatest emotional need - the need for connection and belonging.

Workplace culture in your small business

Workplace culture is the environment that you create for your employees. 

It plays a powerful role in determining their happiness with their career, relationships and career progression. 

The culture of your workplace is determined by a combination of the business leadership and the team's values, beliefs and attitudes, which translate into behaviours and interactions that contribute to the relational environment of your workplace. 

These are the intrinsic rules that govern interpersonal connections in the workplace between peers.

Toxic workplace culture

Toxicity in the workplace develops from a pattern of combined behaviours that are counterproductive. 

According to Prof Kenneth Williams, when promoted by toxic leadership, a toxic culture incorporates six specific behaviours: 

  • Passive hostility
  • Shaming
  • Indifference
  • Team sabotage
  • Negativity
  • Exploitation

Toxic cultures are known to promote attitudes that adversely impact employees’ psychological wellbeing. 

Social psychology expert Prof Carol Ryff defines psychological wellbeing by six attributes: 

  • Autonomy
  • Environment management
  • Personal growth
  • Positive relationships
  • Having life goals
  • Self-acceptance.

Research indicates that toxic workplace culture has a significant deleterious impact on the psychological wellbeing of employees

What might be surprising is that almost 80% of workplaces met the criteria for toxicity!

There tends to be three main strategies adopted by employees who are confronted with these toxic work environments:

Active rejection: The whistle-blowers, who take action against the toxicity of the workplace and see quitting as the last resort. 

Passive rejection: Those who tend to hide their dissatisfaction from the perpetrators (usually the leadership) while sharing their dissatisfaction with their peers. They stay because they believe that it is better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t!

Escapees: These are the ones who decide that it is easier to get out as quickly as possible, in some cases leaving the professional field. 

Employees with higher levels of psychological wellbeing are more likely to escape when the business toxicity worsens, whereas employees with the lowest psychological wellbeing are the most likely to become passive rejectors.

It isn’t that difficult to see why this needs our attention. 

If 80% of workplaces have a moderate to high toxicity, then it really isn’t hard to understand why actively leading to reducing toxicity in the workplace should be the major goal of all leaders. 

The disenfranchisement of our human resources is leading to significantly reduced productivity, and this is silently eroding the profitability of businesses globally.

The importance of psychological safety

How we manage and treat our people at work can be directly linked to managing psychological safety at work. 

The ability to feel like you are able to be ‘human’ at work. 

When people on a team possess psychological safety, they feel able to raise concerns, admit mistakes, ask for help, suggest ideas, and challenge the ways of working. 

They are comfortable to question the ideas of others on the team, including the leadership. 

It’s a workplace culture that embraces respectful honesty and openness. 

When the workplace provides psychological safety — risks are reduced, new ideas are generated, the team is able to execute those ideas and everyone feels included. 

By focusing on building an inclusive workplace through the key components of tackling trauma and promoting psychological safety, you are going to create an exceptional workplace culture for your people, increasing productivity and profits and creating a level of positivity that will translate into widespread happiness at work.

So why the fuck you wouldn’t focus on this would be both nieve and somewhat dumb!

In our ‘Business Transformation Program’ we show you how to create and maintain a great culture in a small business. Join the ‘Business Transformation Program’ waitlist.