How To Get Away From a Toxic Workplace Culture

14 September 2022 | 4 Minute
user Sorwe
Previous article
How To Create Workplace Culture While Scaling Fast?
How To Get Away From a Toxic Workplace Culture

 It's hard to admit that your workplace is toxic, and it might be even harder to see it. But there are so many signs. They happen more often than you might think, which is sad.

In this article, we talk about the top signs of a toxic work environment, how it affects productivity, and clear ways that HR and employees can fix it. Let's dive in.


What Is A Toxic Work Environment?

A toxic work environment is one in which bad, hostile, or bullying behaviour is part of the culture. In a toxic work environment, people are stressed, they can't talk to each other, there's a lot of blaming, and people are rewarded and appreciated (either tacitly or overtly) for being unethical, hurtful, or mean.

At the same time, bosses often show favouritism in a toxic work environment, giving appreciation to certain people (often the more cutthroat, Machiavellian types) for doing whatever it takes to get results, no matter what that means for other people.


What Are the Effects of a Toxic Work Environment?

You must have the ability to spot the warning signs of workplace toxicity. These things lack explicit HR policies and discipline procedures. The fact is that they point to a problem. Recognizing them could prevent you from taking matters to the point of discipline.

Keep an eye out for these eight warning signs because they could mean that your workplace is dangerous.

1. Gossip culture and cliques: individuals are being left out. Workers peddled rumours behind people's backs.

2. Lack of coordination: Employee feedback often seems to be ignored, and important procedures or events are not explained well enough.

3. Mistrust among coworkers or in the leadership: People lack confidence in others' ability to keep their word or show them respect.

4. Leaders who don't have empathy put the well-being of their employees ahead of deadlines or their own reputations.

5. Staff turnover is common: You notice a lot of employees leaving your organisation after only a few months or significant levels of burnout.

6. Subtle bullying at work is a pattern of behaviour that scares, embarrasses, or threatens people, and can include verbal or emotional abuse.

7. Inadequate balance between work and life: People often work extra hours or have to answer work-related calls and emails at all times.

8. Laws are not followed the same way for everyone. Top performers or "favorites" get special treatment when it comes to rules about discipline or other things.

Any of these ought to indicate that a problem needs to be repaired. The good news is that you can take action to address these concerns. A better option would be to stop them before they start.


10 Ways to Improve a Toxic Workplace Culture

1. Begin distributing work throughout the organisation

Unbelievably, many companies have a command and control culture, where managers micromanage employees' actions and dictate what needs to be done. If you start giving individuals a lot of autonomy and allow them to do what they were hired to do, you'll see rapid cultural improvement.

2. Regain a feeling of security

Prior to beginning the process of cleaning up a toxic workplace, it's critical that you listen to those who feel violated and do it with compassion. Never belittle an issue or reduce a team member's concern; doing so amounts to institutional betrayal, which can make the experience for victims worse. Talking to your staff is a fantastic way to develop trust while also reducing worry and restoring a sense of security. Make sure to publicly announce your policies and to explain them clearly and loudly.

3. Deal with underperformers right away

Don't let the malignancies persist for another day. High-achievers find nothing more infuriating than seeing troubled kids clog up the workplace unpunished. Make sure underperformers are aware of their shortcomings, offer them a limited amount of time to improve, and don't be afraid to let go of personnel when necessary.

Set up a culture of accountability on top of this, where everyone has to do what they're supposed to and make positive contributions to the culture as they go.

4. Assist the racehorses by providing resources

By this, we mean that you should battle to get the resources you need for your top goals. Stop setting everything up so that more is always better. Employees who believe they lack the resources and support necessary to complete the task at hand eventually become so upset that they actually do less with what they already have.

5. Immediately advocate for transparency

This entails having an open mind, encouraging others to express their opinions, and freely exchanging information as opposed to hoarding it to retain control. Additionally, it entails being open, vulnerable, and truthful in your communications. Employees will feel less comfortable keeping things within their scope if they don't feel comfortable speaking up. After the meeting, they'll continue to gather and spend a lot of time lamenting and commiserating. They urgently require a setting that encourages the opposition. Don’t forget that Internal communication has always a potential to get better.

6. Genuinely replace callousness with care

The culture has no chance when people inherently feel devalued and disrespected. People's feelings that no one is concerned about them or for them are at the root of a great deal of toxic conduct. Leaders who genuinely care about their teams, their professional development, and their personal growth may make such rapid cultural progress. By praising them, recognising them, and just making them feel appreciated. This item on the list is the least like rocket science but also the least well-executed. 

7. Clarify the promotion requirements

Playing favourites and promoting only a particular sort of employee are two major sources of toxic behaviour among executives. This results in a pervasive sense of unfairness and the attitude "Why bother trying?" ruining the overall employee experience. Alternately, it promotes even worse behavior—aggressive actions taken in a last-ditch effort to stand out and advance. Re-establishing transparent, equitable promotion criteria and disseminating them to everyone will stop this conduct.

8. Draw up a clear vision and repeat it aloud at least a thousand times

Employees are compelled to fill in the spaces in the absence of direction, which is toxic. As a result, there is an absence of coherence, conflicting priorities, and personal agendas and motivations. Utilizing organisational feedback, gather key executives to develop a compelling vision that is then shared as often as you can stand it. To believe it and follow it, employees need to continuously be reminded of the vision.

9. Incorporate hope and realism

Employees who feel hopeless or who act in a way that is divorced from the reality of their competitive environment or internal issues are prone to working in toxic settings. Quickly fix this for improving employee engagement. Give a clear assessment of the state of the union and genuinely hopeful reasons (without blindly overpromising).

10. Specify the guidelines for taking risks

We've seen a lot of leaders make a great deal out of the necessity for workers to take chances, but when those chances don't pay off, workers get beaten up. Establishing and widely sharing the guidelines for taking risks will help you avoid this. What qualities make a good risk? a poor one? Who needs to approve taking risks? You see what we mean?


To prevent a toxic workplace culture, you should have strong internal communication. Employees feeling lonely, unfounded news may cause a toxic workplace culture. Sorwe provides open and transparent communication with internal communication features, while helping you avoid a toxic workplace culture. You can always contact us for detailed information.

Next article
What is Workforce Diversity?
Related Articles

Digital Employee Experience Platform

All the tools you need to recruit, retain, develop and reward your high performing remote, office or store based teams.
Create Demo Account
Free for 15 days, explore all the features.
Explore Sorwe in 15 minutes
Book a slot with our expert.