How to Change a Toxic Workplace Culture

Most people working in the corporate arena want a workplace that is harmonious, cordial, and amicable. Nobody wants a toxic workplace. A toxic and hostile workplace culture results in decreased productivity, low employee morale, and a generally an uphappy team. If your workplace has such a bleak atmosphere, it is not impossible to turn things around – you can change it into a positive one and introduce a new culture.

What Causes a Toxic Workplace?

A negative, toxic workplace comes from bad behaviours from the individual members of the teams. This bad behaviour over time can create an unhealthy atmosphere which can make the organisation’s culture into a toxic one. Bad behaviours usually start from being rude, discourteous and disrespectful to other people. Dismissing other people’s ideas, using discrimination and prejudice over others, or harassment, bullying, manipulation, and humiliation are just some of the manifestations of a toxic workplace. Being consistently exposed to this kind of environment usually affects an employee physically; causing headaches, elevated blood pressure, sleepless nights; as well as psychologically: experiencing fear, anxiety, depression, burn out, and stress.

A terrible behaviour usually is a reaction to a threat or stress. When a person feels threatened, they begin to “fight off” by displaying the “defensive” actions. A person who does this usually lacks social skills and emotional intelligence, and resort instead to lashing out or attacking. Some of these individuals are even among the high-performers, and may feel that they have the right or are entitled to demonstrate such behaviours. Being resistant to organisational changes can also bring about negativity in the workplace, which can then influence the others to feel the same.

A toxic workplace continues because some people who watch the bad behaviours refuse to speak up. They do not want to inform management about these individuals for fear of reprisal or retaliation. They don’t want to ‘rock the boat’. When an unhealthy work environment ensues, it fosters discouragement, poor morale, decreased motivation, increased employee disengagement, and low work quality. Some people spend most of their time complaining, and looking for other work options in order to leave the toxic workplace. It is thus imperative to turn around such a hostile atmosphere into a positive one, making the negative culture the exception, rather than the norm.

How to Create a Positive Workplace Culture

Conduct a survey. Getting your employees input anonymously will help you to know their views and sentiments, without the unnecessary fear of reprisal. You will need to plan out the survey questions based on the key information that you’d like to know. From the survey results, you will be able to obtain perspective of the overall pulse of the organisation. You can start off from the worst or most critical reviews that will have the most impact in the culture change.

Create a culture team. This culture committee team will act on the survey results, analyse them, and plan out how to address and resolve. The committee can then arrange for focus group discussions in order to discuss and plan the proposed improvements, operationalising these, to bring about the culture transformations. The culture committee can also facilitate the creation of the organisation’s vision, mission, and values, to which focus and initiatives for the culture transformation will be anchored.

Establish partnership with HR as they will be a great helping hand in implementing the plans and strategies. HR can consider looking for the right people who possess the desired values during recruiting or interviews. They can also introduce the vision, mission, and values during the onboarding programs. HR can also align the key performance indicators as part of employee performance reviews. All these will enable and ensure that the desired culture is consistently observed and practiced, and corrected where required.

Good leaders, lead by example. Seeing the company leaders advocate culture change, and lead by example, will be a sure way to drive the transformation of a toxic workplace. The leaders should be the first ones to demonstrate the proper and positive behaviours, so that the rest of the organisation will emulate them.

To learn more about organisational culture, you may reach out to Carrie Benedet through here.

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