Updated: Dec 21, 2020
Source: Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
In 2019, 1 in 4 U.S. workers said they experienced a feeling of dreading going to work daily (*Source: The High Cost of a Toxic Workplace Culture: How Culture Impacts the Workforce—and the Bottom Line. ) With the first six months of 2020 under our belt, and the memes of alien invasion seeming more and more feasible, the fact that toxicity in the workplace was this bad before the events of the 2020 Covid 19 pandemic make you stop and wonder how they are faring now. With remote work being the new standard, is the culture of a company and the feeling of belonging a stakeholder has to it more magnified at a distance or has it eroded even more given varied corporate responses to the global crisis? Has high stakes leadership prepared and adapted or is it more of the same but from a distance?
SHRM's report confirmed what many employers were seeing every day: There's a strong correlation between workplace culture, satisfied and engaged employees, and business productivity and profits. When an organization's culture is toxic, everyone loses.
Toxic workplaces are a primary reason why workers quit their jobs. Employees in toxic professional cultures dread going to work; don't feel that they can be honest with their managers; and are more likely to witness or experience sexual harassment, age discrimination or political-affiliation bias. They often hold their managers responsible for creating the toxicity, which cannot be ignored. Poor managers and toxic workplaces lead to dysfunctional work cultures. The impact is felt so deeply that business leaders must pay attention.
Bad workplace cultures lead to myriad difficulties for all stakeholders (employees, employers, customers, investors, you name it. Most jarring is the impact that toxic workplaces have on the economy: U.S. employers have spent nearly $223 billion over the last five years dealing just with the turnover associated with toxic workplace cultures and poor people management. Put in context, there are only six enterprises on the planet that report annual earnings greater than that figure. This statistic leaves no doubt about the importance of getting your organizational culture right.
A lack of communication between managers and workers is a leading contributor to the culture challenges facing many organizations. Managers are in a prime position to build strong and positive workplaces by listening to employees, holding workers and leaders accountable for their actions, setting well-defined expectations and clarifying essential information. Eliminating toxicity will shore up your organization's sustainability and is central to forging a kinder, gentler, more effective workplace worldwide.