Fighting Off Toxic Workplace Culture

The signs are all there: Lack of positive reinforcement. Bad blood with managers. A general cloud of unhappiness descends over the workplace…

The diagnosis? Toxic workplace culture.

How do workplaces end up here?

There are many factors that can create a toxic culture in the workplace, including:

  1. Lack of clear expectations and incentives
  2. No sense of community
  3. Demands that exceed resources
  4. Unfair compensation structure

Why should companies care?

Toxic workplace culture has serious repercussions for a company’s bottom line. Tense relationships with managers and coworkers stress employees out, leading to more absences, lower productivity, and even a higher risk of developing severe medical problems, like clinical depression and high blood pressure.

How can companies fight back?

Building a supportive work environment from the outset is much easier than fixing a toxic one. Still, companies can repair broken workplace culture by re-establishing clear and fair performance expectations and communication norms for employees via their managers. For current management, a little leadership training can go a long way. Companies can also prioritize the soft skills and traits that make for good leaders (and avoid those that make bad leaders) when hiring new management personnel.

What are the signs of a bad leader?

  1. Psychopathy: Studies have shown that leaders high in psychopathy run workplaces with higher incidences of attrition and workplace bullying.
  2. Neuroticism: Studies have linked this trait to employee perceptions of their bosses as misguided and unethical. (Neuroticism can often be a positive trait, but not here)

What are the signs of a good leader?

  1. A combination of conscientiousness, openness, and agreeableness.
  2. Assertiveness – especially when facing a crisis.
  3. The belief that managers are there to serve their employees, not vice versa.

Okay, but that sounds hard. How can companies do this efficiently and effectively?

Personality and soft skills testing early in the hiring pipeline is essential. There are many companies out there that do this, but make sure the science is sound before you sign on. At Cangrade, we use an un-game-able trait assessment to fuel some powerful machine learning tech that helps you select the best leaders for your business and screen out the bad apples.

Tackling toxic workplace culture may be hard – but kicking it to the curb has tremendous rewards. Not only will it boost a company’s bottom line, it will make for happier employees. A true win-win.

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