Identifying Toxic Workplaces

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Do you know the signs of a toxic workplace? These days, many organization leaders are aware that bullying and harassment are major issues that need to be dealt with, but it’s not uncommon for the initial signs that lead to such problems to go unnoticed. By knowing how to recognize and address the signs of a toxic workplace, you not only gain the ability to avoid further escalation but to empower your employees to grow in a healthier, more welcoming environment.

If you’ve been noticing a different atmosphere in the office, as well as signs that there’s discontent amongst your employees, it’s time to take a closer look at overall team dynamics before things have the chance to progress. Below, we’ll discuss 6 common signs of a toxic workplace. Read on to see if you recognize any of the symptoms we list.

1. Low Morale

Of the most pervasive signs of a toxic work environment is consistently low morale among employees. While it’s normal for employees to have occasional bad days or even take some time to bounce back after a stressful quarter, if you notice that this has become the norm, you have a problem on your hands. Common signs of low morale include a general lack of friendliness or camaraderie among team members, a constant negative “cloud” that seems to hang in the air, and closed-off interactions.

2. Poor/Non-Existent Communication

Open and honest communication is vital when it comes to maintaining a healthy workplace culture. If your employees seem to have shut down and/or have no interest in communicating with one another, trouble is on the horizon and a further investigation should be done immediately.

3. High Employee Turnover

One of the most obvious signs that your workplace culture has turned toxic? High turnover. Constant departures of both long-term team members, as well as newer additions, are a sure sign that there’s a deeper problem at play. Consider reviewing (or conducting, if you don’t already) exit interviews to look for common denominators or themes.

4. Cliques Have Begun to Form

It’s natural for specific departments to share a close-knit bond, but if certain team members seem to be forming groups that are more based on exclusion, this may signal that you have an issue developing. Bullying in the workplace can take many forms, one of which includes feeling intentionally closed off and neglected by teammates. If you notice this behaviour starting to occur, it’s crucial to step in sooner than later.

5. Feedback is Poorly Received if Given at All

Feedback is a vital resource to team development, and when done correctly can bring out the best in your employees. However, once a workplace begins to turn toxic, feedback can often give way to overly negative criticism that trends more towards berating instead of focusing on constructive results. If your team has begun to trend this way or has stopped giving/receiving feedback at all, it’s time for a reset.

6. There’s No Employee Recognition

Does your management team go out of their way to recognize extraordinary achievements by team members? Do you take the time to mingle with your employees and listen to their perspectives and concerns? If not, you may want to change that sooner than later.

Countless studies indicate that employees not only need, but thrive, in environments where recognition is given for innovative ideas, high performance, and large successes. If you fail to give recognition when it’s due, this can have a drastic effect on employee morale and quickly sow seeds of discontent that lead to an uncomfortable workplace for all.

How to Get Back on Track

Do you recognize one or more of the traits above in your workplace? We can help! Building and maintaining a healthy workplace culture is a constant challenge; sometimes, despite our best efforts, a toxic culture can seep in and begin to wreak havoc. If you find yourself dealing with unhappy employees and wondering how you can reset and refresh, Pivot HR is here to assist.

With decades of industry experience on our side, Pivot’s team of HR consultants are happy to partner with clients through British Columbia as well as across Canada to conduct workplace assessments and devise custom training plans to help your workplace culture get back to a happy, healthy, environment for all. Learn more about how our services and how to get back on track by contacting us today!

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