In the realm of bad jobs, there are two major types. There are bad jobs that simply aren’t a good fit for the employee, and then there are toxic jobs that aren’t a good fit for anyone.
Toxic work culture is more than employees occasionally suffering through a groan-inducing annoyance. It’s a distressing environment characterized by poor leadership, high turnover, ineffective communication, employee burnout, and bullying or harassment. When these problems begin to affect the company’s productivity and well-being of employees, you officially have a toxic workplace culture.
Employees are the most valuable resource a company has, so it’s a smart investment to cultivate a positive work culture.
What effect does a toxic workplace have?
It takes a toll on employees’ physical and mental health
Imagine you’re being chased by a bear.* Your heart is pounding. You’re hyper alert. Your muscles are tensed. Your body is as ready as it can be to handle this situation.
That’s your fight-or-flight response. It’s triggered when your brain perceives a very stressful event. Unfortunately, our brains aren’t that great at distinguishing between stressors. Is it a bear? Is it a toxic job? It can’t tell, so the fight-or-flight response is initiated.
In the case of a toxic job, the perceived danger doesn’t go away, so the stress response continues. Eventually, this life-saving evolutionary response begins to backfire, making employees sick.
A toxic workplace often sees a higher than average rate of workers using sick days. Even when employees are at work, they’re much less effective. They miss deadlines, overlook details, and lack motivation. This chronic stress also makes people prone to irritability and less able to control their emotions, which adds to the toxicity of the work environment.
*Safety note: Never run away from a bear.
It makes employees lose the motivation to do their jobs well
Toxic work culture breaks the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The results are a cascade of problems that start with high levels of stress, moves to low morale, and quickly turns into poor productivity or work quality.
Emtrain’s 2020 work culture report showed that 95% of employees say their commitment to work plummets after just one to two toxic incidents. In an interview with NPR, a mistreated employee said about her toxic job: “I did the absolute bare minimum to get my paycheck. It did not make me want to help the company in any way.”
Most employees want to do their jobs well. This “I’m just here for the paycheck” attitude results from bad work culture, and it can be a business’s downfall.
It creates a high turnover rate that increases costs and derails projects
According to a 2016 report from the Society of Human Resource Management, the average cost-per-hire is $4,425. That’s a significant investment, and the higher the company’s turnover rate, the less return they see on those investments.
That cost-per-hire figure doesn’t include the money a company may lose when it no longer has enough experienced staff to perform to clients’ expectations. A team that’s operating shorthanded and in a toxic environment has little chance of success. They’re set up to fail, and as they do, so does the business.
How can you maintain a healthy and productive work culture?
Make communication a priority
Communication is the basis for all human interactions, and it’s critical to maintaining a good work environment (or correcting a toxic one). In Inc’s article, “Why Do Employees Really Quit Their Jobs?” six of the eight reasons given are related to communication.
The first step to good workplace communication is, fittingly, to talk about it. Make it clear to your employees that they’re welcome to ask questions, discuss concerns, or have the occasional friendly chat.
Sometimes employees won’t feel comfortable initiating discussions, especially if open, honest communication has not been the standard operating procedure until now. Managers can make workers more comfortable by asking specific questions. Instead of saying, “Any questions?” at the end of a meeting, assume that there are. Try to gauge what they might be. A question such as, “What are some potential downsides to this project?” is much more effective at opening the door to communication.
Onehub can improve workplace communication
It’s important to provide your team with effective communication tools. In-person meetings are great (or were, pre-pandemic), but they’re not always practical. Sometimes an employee just has a quick question or update, or their problem would be more easily understood within the context of the file they’re asking about. With this type of communication, technology is the best way to get the message across.
Onehub’s comprehensive business software provides many avenues for work communication and collaboration such as comments, messaging, and tasks. Comments can be left directly on files or folders to share feedback with colleagues, and comment icons clarify which items people are interacting with. Workers can easily communicate with everyone in the Workspace by posting messages, and tasks clearly convey who is responsible for what.
Don’t micromanage employees
Micromanagers are one of the top complaints from unhappy employees. It’s insulting to an employee’s intelligence and skills when their boss constantly checks in on them. It hinders their ability to do their job well, and it can dramatically lower their morale and commitment to their work.
Micromanagers suffer from a fear of the unknown. Is the new client account being handled properly? Will the stakeholder presentation be ready by Friday? These types of questions plague them. They don’t feel comfortable unless they know exactly what everyone is doing and where every project or account stands.
If not addressed, a micromanager can single-handedly create a toxic work environment.
Onehub can save employees from micromanagement
An easy way to circumvent anxious micromanagers is to provide them with easy access to everyone’s status — without them checking on employees directly.
Onehub allows users to assign tasks to employees and track their actions and progress via audit trails. Assigned tasks can be viewed all together or per person, and audit trails show the granular details micromanagers crave, such as what files someone viewed or if they made changes. When a task is completed, Onehub can send a would-be micromanager a notification.
Having access to this information makes it more convenient to check Onehub than to interrupt an employee’s work to find out what they’re doing.
“Knowledge hoarding” is a real problem within the workforce, and a toxic work culture is often the catalyst for it. In a job where colleagues are always in competition or workers don’t feel valued, employees are understandably concerned about their job security. If people have to come to them for help or information, it makes it clear that they’re a valuable asset.
This unwillingness to share information has expensive consequences. Your company loses money every time an employee has to stop working to search for information or reinvent the wheel to complete a project. Some estimates put this cost at around $63,000 annually.
Any information that a worker needs to do their job should be readily available to them. Your company can ensure this by taking time to document processes and creating an environment that supports collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Onehub makes it easy to share information
Once you’ve established a work culture that supports sharing information, the next step is to make sure employees can easily do that.
Onehub is built around information and file sharing. Administrators can quickly grant access to the platform and define permissions for every employee at the Workspace, folder, or individual file level. This ensures sensitive information remains confidential while necessary files are easy to find and share.
Once they have access, employees can collaborate with colleagues and freely share information via comments, messages, or tasks within the user-friendly Onehub Workspace.
If any of these common workplace problems look familiar, it’s time to take action. Try Onehub’s free 14-day trial to see how easy communication and free-flowing information can be.