Managers: Are You Creating a Toxic Environment?

BY Kathy Crosett
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The toxicity of the workplace is a hot topic these days. In our current economic climate, employees don’t have to put up with a bad workplace environment. They can easily score another position and that development will leave you scrambling to hire someone new. Before employees start leaving your company, ask yourself if your workplace culture is toxic. And could you be the cause of the problem? 

The new SHRM The High Cost of a Toxic Workplace Culture report indicates that nearly half of employees are considering or have considered leaving their current job. One major cause of departures is a poor workplace environment. Culture goes beyond stocking the break room with snacks and beverages and has little to do with company outings. Employees expect organizational leaders and their direct managers to establish the culture for them. Here, specifically, is what they are looking for.

The Manager Problem

The day-​to-​day work environment is what concerns most employees. And much of that experience is based on interaction with an immediate supervisor. Up to 20% of team members don’t feel at ease when they have to talk to their supervisors, reports the SHRM. This might be because 36% of employees say their supervisor doesn’t know how to manage. Similarly, in the Voice of the Sales Rep survey conducted by SalesFuel, nearly 40% of employees in sales-​related jobs say they’ve left a company because they didn’t like their manager. Or, they felt their manager wasn’t performing to expectations.

The Leadership Problem

C‑suite members also bear responsibility for establishing workplace culture. In the SalesFuel survey, only about 35% of sales reps say their current employers have set a vision, mission and set of values. And, the SHRM reports that too many employees have witnessed sexual harassment and discrimination. Specifically, both younger and older workers have felt the chill of rejection because of their age. These issues can add up to a toxic environment.

The Solution

These kinds of cultural problems also make employees feel anxious and vulnerable. Start communicating your values at a company level through email and team chat tools. Every senior member of leadership should demonstrate their commitment to these values through words and actions. In addition, train every new manager. These folks must be approachable, positive and committed to helping their team members succeed.

Employees need to feel safe in their workplace. They want to be valued as individual and team contributors. Many employers are rushing to show their commitment to the latest environmental or social cause. They may even be promising to donate a share of their profits to these causes in order to strengthen their brand image. When they devote similar resources toward improving their culture and removing toxic elements, they’ll reap the reward of higher employee engagement and reduced turnover.