By Eileen McGhee, MA, PHR, SHRM-CP
In today’s workplace, we spend more time with our coworkers than with our own family members. It is essential to recognize the signs of a toxic workplace. It can have a negative effect on your personal relationships, mental and physical health. A large number of employers spend a lot of time promoting wellness programs, such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and reducing stress. However, working at a toxic workplace can be more damaging to employees health than not getting in their daily exercise. After working in the human resource field for over 20 years and working in a toxic workplace, here are my signs of a toxic workplace.
1. Preferential treatment/inequality. A workplace that regularly practiced preferential treatment can create a very toxic work environment. Preferential treatment in treating someone better than others or in a special way due to personal feelings and or biases. Preferential treatment can be illegal if the treatment is based on race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, and religion. Preferential treatment among managers and leaders can create a “conflicting subcultures” within the organization. For example, if a leader in an organization, allows their direct reports to bypass the organization’s policies and rule to hire an employee, this type of behavior can cause a toxic work environment. This will create resentments among other employees, and create a culture of “us” versus “them.” Also, training about diversity/inclusion/microaggression should be mandatory for all staff and leaders. Microaggression is when an incident occurs indirectly or directly, intentional, unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority. To ensure processes are being followed consistently an electronic process should be in place and monitored for accuracy and fairness. The process should be reviewed on a regular basis.
2. A toxic executive leadership team. Does your leadership team argue and belittle each other in front or behind each other’s back? A toxic leader would rather see their fellow team member’s department fail then to see the organization thrive as a whole.The ability of an executive leadership team to work together effectively to drive change and execute strategy across the business may be the most critical thing of any organizations success. The executive leadership team should be provided with training and coaching regularly. Training must focus on the main goal of the team, to work cohesively and effectively, manage complexity and change, and lead the organization to achieve what matters most.
3. Lack of communications. Do you work at an organization where the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing? The lack of communication can occur in several different ways, such as supervisors to their staff, from department to department and from senior leadership to all employees. Is the only time you hear about your performance is during the annual performance review? Supervisors should provide regular feedback to their employees about their expectations, what they are doing well and what they are not doing well. A lack of effective communication can lead to arguments, hurt feelings and reduced productivity. Managers with poor communication skills may delay or not respond at all to an employee’s concerns. If you are having difficulties with getting feedback about your performance on a regular basis, make sure you make several attempts to address with your supervisor. It is also a good idea to document your concerns. Finally, if you are still not seeing any improvements regarding communications, dusk off your resume and develop an exit strategy from the organization.
4. Managers hoarding information. This is problematic on any level but when managers hoard information from their employees, it can cause a toxic workplace. Managers hoards information to hold power and control. They want control on any level, across any function, or between peers is one of the most effective ways to kill trust. Attempt to bring the issue to your supervisor by having and providing examples of each encounter. If nothing changes in the next 3 to 4 months, it is time to plan your exit strategy with the company.
5. You feel sick every time you get close to work. Finally, a true and easy sign to tell your workplace is toxic, is the sick feeling you have every day when going into work. When your family and friends are worried about your mental health, and they begin making the
“You are always on edge.”
“You seem really stress.”
“ You seem like you are about to have a nervous breakdown.”
“You have changed.”
“You have lost or gained a lot of weight.”
“Maybe you should talk to someone.”
When you start to hear the above comments, employees should
make an appointment to talk to a professional counselor within the next 24 to 48 hours. Employees should contact their HR department to see if they have EAP, which is typically free for employees. The counselor will help the employee develop and put into place coping strategies for working in a toxic workplace. Employees must take care of themselves first. A happy healthy employee is able to give 100% to their job and their clients.
Please submit questions or comments to this blog at: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author
Eileen McGhee, is a Certified Human Resources Professional and Career
Re-Brander/Life Coach, with over 20 years of experience working in the Human Resources field. She is also the C.E.O and Founder of Veer Up, a Virtual HR /Life Coach Consulting company.
For more information about Veer Up or help with re-branding your career please see contact information below.
Phone Number: 813-GET- HELP