Five ways to stamp out workplace toxicity

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By Jo Macdermott

An actively engaged, motivated and vibrant workplace culture is a business’ best asset, but it can be surprisingly hard to achieve and maintain. Underperforming employees, passive aggression and too much bureaucracy can all contribute to a negative working environment. With low productivity and employee disengagement at the root of many business owners’ and managers’ woes, workplace negativity and toxicity can have a long lasting impact on future growth and profitability.

Nobody wants to own up to having a toxic workplace, but sometimes it creeps up on you, or you inherit a business or a management position where a culture of negativity is already ingrained. Although there is no overnight solution, it is possible to identify the causes of workplace toxicity and create a more positive engaged culture instead.

Here are five positive steps you can take to stamp out toxicity and turn your organisational culture into a thriving and engaged one.

  1. Trust your employees.

Innovation and agility are essential for success in an ever-fluctuating environment but it’s impossible for your employees to exhibit these qualities if they constantly have to fight their way through committees and bureaucracy. Alleviate frustration by giving your employees the space to innovate and come up with their own solutions to problems, and create a culture that forgives mistakes.

  1. Deal with passive aggression.

Passive aggressive behaviour and backstabbing can undermine the most positive of organisational cultures. Stamp it out by creating policies that require people to address issues with the people directly involved rather than gossiping about them to their colleagues.

  1. Get rid of bullies.

Your organisational policies may not condone bullying but allowing bullying behaviour to continue tells your employees that profits are more important to you than they are. Don’t be afraid to fire bullies, even if they are high performing employees. The long term issues caused by a culture of bullying means keeping them on is likely to be more trouble than it’s worth.

  1. Don’t shy away from providing feedback.

If you avoid the difficult conversations, problems will build up over time and undermine your staff as well as creating resentment and negativity. It’s important that you as a leader are seen to be dealing with difficult issues and providing regular feedback to your employees.

  1. Make time for positive shared experiences.

A sociable environment is one of the best indicators of an engaged, positive workplace culture. As a leader you can foster this by making time for your employees to build relationships and have positive experiences together. Regular social events, team projects and celebrations of achievements or success can help create a cohesive team culture that will benefit everyone.

Don’t let a toxic culture undermine your business and stifle its growth. By implementing a few changes you can work to create a positive environment where your employees, and your business, will thrive.

About the Author:

Jo Macdermott is the Chief Marketing Consultant at Next Marketing in Melbourne. She has 15 years of marketing experience, is a Certified Practising Marketer and is a sought after marketing media commentator. Jo specialises in working with small and medium businesses. Follow her on Twitter here.

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