How To Avoid A Toxic Work Culture
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How does a company develop into a toxic workplace? Most of the time, it comes from pressure to do more with less. As the pressure increases by cutting costs, removing benefits, and increasing workloads without communication from management, it is not hard to find disgruntled employees everywhere.
The Risks of a Toxic Workplace
When a company faces pressure from shareholders, the workforce is the first place to make cuts. Chances are, your employees can handle pressure for a short amount of time, however, consistent overload will eventually result in employee burnout and decline in productivity. A reputation as a toxic workplace can take years to recover from.
How to Avoid a Toxic Workplace
Avoiding a toxic culture from taking hold is much easier than fixing it later.
1. Ensure Employees Feel Listened To
Ensure everyone has open communication with the decision-makers. You can do this with surveys, town halls or creating a human resources inbox where employees can submit questions anonymously. Empower your managers to have team meetings, an open-door policy and to bring employees’ concerns to their management team. Implement the small, doable fixes where you can and address employees’ questions. Often “being heard” costs nothing.
2. Don’t Cut Employee Benefits
Your employees rely on vacation, health insurance, pension programs, etc. to survive and provide for their families. Arbitrary changes can motivate the best employees to begin looking for opportunities elsewhere and make recruiting new employees more difficult.
3. Continue to Provide Autonomy for Your Employees
Empower your employees to make decisions within their area of expertise according to overall company rules and policy. Consider offering flexible working hours and location. Some constraints are necessary, but a level of trust (which must continue to be earned through employees not abusing that trust) will go a long way towards avoiding a toxic workplace culture.
4. Recognize Your Employees for Their Efforts
Recognizing employees and teams for their hard work is vital, and costs little to nothing. It can be as easy as company-wide emails recognizing employees or sending a thank you note to someone’s office.
5. Continue to Foster Team Get-Togethers
Bringing your employees together for a potluck vs. renting out a flashy conference centre for a holiday party can be just as effective. When times get tough, companies will sometimes cut out things like team gatherings. Employees notice these things and tend to feel unappreciated.
Being Cheap vs. Cost Savings
Reducing head count is one of the most effective ways of reducing costs and is far preferable to a general grinding down on the entire workforce. By trimming your organization with a scalpel, focusing on the least productive employees and areas of activity that can be eliminated, you can cut costs without impacting the valued employees who you want to keep and reduce the chances of a toxic workplace.
The key is to communicate and listen to your workforce. This way, you can hear when things are starting to go downhill and you can make changes as quickly as possible before it’s too late.
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