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Are You Managing a Toxic Work Environment?

Many managers don't know they are managing toxic environments.  Transforming your workplace from toxic to productive will increase employee productivity.  Managers and business owners experiencing low employee productivity and constant bickering among workers needs to determine if they have a toxic work environment.

Job satisfaction has decreased since the beginning of the recession in 2008.  According to Gallup polls U.S. workers have reported a decrease in job satisfaction.  The Gallup-Healthways Work Environment Index score has dropped from 51.3 on January 1, 2008 to 47.5 on June 1, 2011.  The Index includes four items: job satisfaction, ability to use one’s strength at work, treatment of supervisor, and is it an open and trusting work environment.  Toxic work environments suffer in all four areas.

Managers and business owners experiencing low employee productivity and constant bickering among workers needs to determine if they have a toxic work environment.

Toxic Indicators

Most bosses wouldn’t admit to running a toxic work environment.  However, there are ways to determine if your company qualifies for this moniker.  If you can answer yes to most of the following question, you have a toxic office.

1.       Are your employees frequently absent?

2.       Do your employees fight over “turf”?

3.       Are inappropriate comments commonly expressed by managers or employees?

4.       Does an extreme lack of trust exist between managers and employees?

5.       Is worker safety low on the company priority list?

6.       Does your company suffer from high employee turnover?

7.       Are several employees threatening to quit for various reasons?

8.       Do your employees suffer from extreme low morale or productivity?

Transforming a Toxic Environment

Despite the constant changes that occur in the business world, employees still want to feel secure.  To change an environment from toxic to nurturing, corporate leadership must make some major changes.  Policies need to be changed that prohibit unprofessional behavior in the workplace.  This includes but is not limited to, sexual harassment, inappropriate jokes or language, and aggressive behavior by managers or employees.  Individuals must be respected at all cost and they should not feel offended when they come to work. 

I once worked in an environment that was extremely toxic.  Employees were frequently fired or laid-off without notice and for little reason.  Family members with little experience and education were promoted over skilled veteran employees.  There was a total lack of trust or faith in executive decisions.  In addition, the company had a continuous revolving door of employees and mid-level managers.  Needless to say employee turnover was astronomical.   This was not a happy place to work.

The importance of Exit Interviews

When employees submit resignations, take them through a formal exit interview.  This will allow exiting employees to more freely express any problems that may still exist.  Many times when employees are unhappy they may not feel comfortable to tell their manager about problems for fear of retaliation.  However, a company will learn of problematic situations that it’s not aware of through exit interviews.   This process is the best way to discover problems a company may be having with certain managers.

Likewise, performance evaluations are also helpful in finding out why employee morale is low.  Regular performance evaluations can help managers discover reasons for dips in employee productivity.  For example, the process can reveal employee conflicts, “turf wars,” or disturbances caused from a manager in another department.  A company that does not use exit interviews or performance evaluations is keeping its head in the sand.  The lack of missing exit interviews and performance evaluations may be contributing factors of a toxic environment.

Restore Trust in the Workplace

After correcting come policy issues that contribute to a toxic workplace.  Managers at all levels of the company need to actively work on restoring trust in manager employee relationships.  Building trust unfortunately does not happen overnightFree Articles, it can only be built over time.  The company must get rid of toxic managers if they want to restore employee confidence.  A management shake-up cannot be avoided if company leadership wants to create a healthy environment.  Employees that have witnessed extremely inappropriate behavior from managers want to see that improvements have been made.  New managers must encourage open communication from employees to build a trusting relationship.  Employees will slowly come around to feeling more secure and trusting of their supervisors.

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Angela Huffmon is a keynote speakers and corporate trainer.  She speaks to groups of corporate managers, executives, and business owners helping them solve their 3 biggest problems:  employee retention, productivity, and manager employee communication.

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