While workplace culture can be hard to define, the one thing most would agree on is that it’s an important part of the company as a whole. And when that culture starts to become toxic, it can affect more than just individual employees; it can turn off potential customers and investors, too.
For companies looking to create or maintain positive workplace cultures, read on for some of the most common signs of a toxic work environment, along with seven steps you can take to fix them before they become serious problems.
1) Define the problem
The first step in fixing a toxic workplace culture is identifying the problem. Some of the most common causes of toxic workplaces are people who have too much power, not enough accountability, and a lack of transparency.
If you’re not sure what’s wrong with your company culture, look for signs that it might be the cause (people losing their temper more often than usual; high turnover rates; financial difficulties). Once you’ve identified the problem, you’ll need to make some decisions about how to fix it. You may want to talk with HR or someone else in management about your options.
To avoid feeling like you don’t have any control over the situation, come up with at least three solutions before choosing one. While it may take time and effort, it will be worth the change if your workplace becomes healthier.
2) Address underlying issues
The first step in fixing a toxic workplace culture is addressing the underlying issues. If you don’t address the problems that are causing your employees to treat each other poorly, then all of your other efforts will be for nothing. If you aren’t sure what those underlying issues are, there are a few ways you can find out:
- Ask for feedback from employees about their experiences and what they would like to see change.
- Gather data on employee satisfaction levels and conduct an internal survey asking them questions about their work experience at your company.
- Conduct exit interviews with former employees and ask them why they left and whether or not they felt like they were treated well while they were working at your company.
3) Encourage positive communication
Encourage positive communication among coworkers. This can be done by encouraging everyone in your office to speak up and share their ideas, or by assigning someone the responsibility of team morale.
The point is to make sure that you are taking the time each day to talk about what’s going well for your company, as opposed to focusing on what’s going wrong. As humans, we’re more likely to focus on negative things than positive ones, so it’s important not only for our own mental health but also for workplace morale that we have an outlet for our positive thoughts.
If you’re feeling down at work, try looking around for one thing that has gone well today before moving on to what didn’t go as planned.
4) Promote inclusivity
One way to create an inclusive culture is by encouraging diversity. This means not just hiring people who look different than your current employees but also making sure that people have the opportunity to speak up about their thoughts and perspectives.
It’s important for leaders at every level of the company, including executives and managers, to be aware of their own biases and behaviors, and ask others if they feel included or excluded in any way. If you’re going to form new teams (e.g., cross-functional ones), it’s crucial that diverse opinions are represented so that all voices can be heard.
Another way to foster an inclusive culture is by setting examples of good behavior with staff members at all levels. For example, make sure that everyone knows what respectful workplace language looks like and how they should respond when someone uses inappropriate language. Don’t forget to celebrate successes. People will work harder when they feel valued, recognized, and appreciated for their contributions.
5) Foster a growth mindset
When you have a growth mindset, you believe that your talents and abilities can grow with time. Your goals are not set in stone but should be created as you continue to learn. A growth mindset will help you overcome challenges more quickly because it focuses on the process and not the outcome.
This means that if something goes wrong, the focus will be on how it happened instead of whether or not the goal was met. Having a growth mindset at your workplace will also make you more open-minded because you’re always learning new things.
Conflicts happen in any workplace, but how these conflicts are dealt with can lead them to spiral out of control or stay contained within the two people arguing. Keep conflicts constructive by sitting down with the other person and discussing the conflict directly.
6) Encourage healthy conflict
Conflict is inevitable, but it should never be avoided. Healthy conflict can help foster innovation and creativity in the workplace, while toxic conflict has the opposite effect. Here are some ways to encourage healthy conflict in your workplace:
- Always maintain an open dialogue with colleagues. Problems will arise, and you’ll need input from your team members.
- Share constructive feedback more often than just complaints or criticisms.
- Make sure everyone on your team feels they have a voice and are able to express their opinion without fear of judgment or retaliation.
- Encourage managers to set clear expectations for their employees so that people know what’s expected of them at work.
- Finally, keep things light-hearted by holding social events like potlucks and games. A little laughter goes a long way!
7) Create opportunities for feedback
Feedback is crucial for identifying what is and isn’t working in your company. It’s important for employees to feel like they can speak up without being punished, whether their feedback is positive or negative.
The first thing you can do to encourage feedback from employees is to start by making it clear that no one will be punished for speaking up. All feedback should be welcomed, and if it’s not constructive, there are still ways you can handle the situation.
You could try asking them what they would have done differently or what they think would help the situation. Another way you could make people feel more comfortable with giving feedback is by creating opportunities for them to do so anonymously.
Finally, a toxic workplace culture is one that discourages employees and creates a hostile work environment. The best way to fix this problem is by first understanding the issues and then taking steps to identify and solve them.
If there are multiple individuals who don’t seem to be able to change even after talking with them directly, then consider bringing in a workplace investigation, which will help identify the problem without accusing them of anything outright. Read a case study on why workplace investigations are essential.
Fix your toxic workplace culture by trying the seven methods above and if you’re ready to start fixing your toxic workplace culture, then it’s time you picked up all of these methods and implemented them one by one.
You have to be patient and allow yourself some time for improvement because you can’t fix an issue overnight. It will take time, effort, energy, and effort on your part, but if you do get results, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back.