Preventing A Toxic Workplace

The modern workplace is becoming more fluid than at any point ever before. Rules and regulations are seen as restricting to some, but are leading to less vertical structures and more horizontal structure – meaning that people are getting ‘together’ in business and listening to each other. Our businesses are more inter-connected than ever, with people from all over mixing and matching in their daily working lives.

This means that teamwork is becoming key. Managers cannot just put to a task and demand that it is done – because teams are falling into line rather than looking upwards. This mingling can lead to creative highs and new ideas coming through faster than ever as employees share experiences and ideas with each other – and asking for help more often. These are the benefits of our staff mixing with each other as we break down cubicle walls and learn the new working ways of the 21st century.

However, there are a few teething issues – namely that people aren’t all the same. They do not have the same thoughts or feelings as each other. They have different looks, experiences, and personalities from each other and this can lead to clashes in the workplace, which can escalate, create friction and lead to an awfully toxic place of work – even after the issue has been ‘resolved.’ Sometimes, this demon cannot exactly be put back into its box. What’s more, sometimes it won’t even be the fault of your employees – more often than not, it’s the actions of the boss or the business that can create and cultivate a horrifically toxic workplace. Nothing gets done in a toxic workplace.

When has the word ‘toxic’ ever had any positive connotations? What do you think of the word toxic? Nothing good, for sure. If you want to run a tidy business, and you focus on nailing every other area to help lead yourself to success in business, then why would you allow friction between employees – or a toxic workplace?

If you don’t know whether your workplace is toxic or not, then that might prove that you might be just a little bit out of touch when it comes to your business. You should know the ins and outs of your business and ideally, you should already know what’s up if things aren’t working in the workplace. However, sometimes you might just be out all the time – you can’t help it, but you owe it to yourself, your team and your business to check in now and then, just to make sure everything is working and nothing needs a change.

How do you avoid a toxic workplace? Work to prevent these issues – but also create a well-compensated workplace, with a positive atmosphere where employees feel happy in the workplace and safe at work. Give them facilities like a gym, benefits like work schemes, services like Health Assured and offer training. Just make sure you are always doing right by your employees in every area of your business.

So, how do you know when there’s a problem? What are the signs of a toxic workplace? Listen closely. A toxic team involves employees who steal from each other, who refuse to collaborate, who are treated unfairly and unequally and who don’t take responsibility for mistakes. This can sometimes lead to a breach of ethics, or even the law within a toxic team. Other things?  Constant interruptions, theft of work, abusive gossiping, internal politicking, and rudeness are things that will contribute to an awful place of work. Abuse, personal attacks, lies and anything else that wouldn’t fly in a personal relationship.  This isn’t acceptable in life, so it’s not acceptable in the workplace. We expect a team to work together, appreciate each other and help out.

When these things occur in the workplace, it isn’t always clear. However, there are some things that need to be shut down straight away – we’re talking abusive behavior and things that will lead to the law being involved in the outside world.

The first of these is sexual harassment. A dominance tactic usually deployed by males in high roles in the workplace to achieve leverage or power. It can be deployed by people of all genders though – and can be used as a blackmail tactic or to get ahead at work. Sexual harassment has no place at all – and should lead to the perpetrator being dismissed. Training your employees is good – but everyone should have the common sense to see that a business, as well as everywhere else, is not the right place for these behaviors – they are illegal.

It’s not just that though – racial, ability and gender based discrimination are not welcome anywhere, and that includes your business. Sexist, racist and ableist comments, as well as any other topics that might discriminate against people in your workplace, can lead to lawsuits, let alone disruption in the workplace. Workplaces must be inclusive environments in order to harness the happiness and the talents of everyone working for your business.

As with the other topics, it goes without saying, but violence is not welcome in the workplace. Threatening behaviors, actions, and comments need to end, unsafe conditions must be corrected, and assault should never take place in the workplace.

Do you recognize anything here? All of these issues need to be corrected instantly. Most of these issues are zero-tolerance and some will need to be referred to the Police or the correct authority.

And this change must come from you – simply because workers feel like they can’t change a thing. Keep an open door and if you notice any of these problems, or if they are brought to you – do something. Politely deal with issues – confront them, but don’t mirror intimidating behaviors. Always speak first, and then bring in actions if necessary.

Your business cannot afford to have a toxic workplace; some influencers do believe that some toxic behavior is necessary for success, but do you know what? Success at the expense of someone else is never earned. Not truly. Avoid a toxic workplace, because it might bring down your business.

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Ive been blogging now for 5 years on various sites for the love of knowledge share. I decided to start my own blog a few years back to share everything from tech to business news. Follow me on twitter for more.