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How To Improve A Toxic Workplace

What is a Toxic Workplace?  A toxic workplace is where day-to-day life in a workplace has a negative impact on an employee's mental health and wellbeing.


A 2015 Harvard Business school study found that ’Nearly half of employees who experienced a lack of politeness in the workplace, reduced their effort and made a decision to spend less time at work.’


There are usually a high number of disagreements. In a toxic workplace there will usually be lots of arguments, drama and unhappy employees with degrading work ethics throughout time, which can cause them to put less effort into their work and punctuality.  

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How do you know if you are working in a Toxic Workplace? 


  1. Low Morale - Usually when working with negative energy and bad attitudes, it is found that there is little to no enthusiasm in the workspace. The (Price 2022) study found that 93% of workers say that they are less productive when they work with people with poor attitudes.

  2. Constant Dysfunction and Confusion - The constant dysfunction in a workspace can create a lack of communication or miscommunication, which then causes confusion between employees. This leads them to be unhappy with the management and leadership of the company due to the workspace not having fixed functions. In a toxic environment this happens repetitively.

  3. Workplace Bullying - This can lead to affecting mental health, causing employees to have psychological burnout, depression, anxiety and aggression. The constant maliciousness can take a toll on employees. The same 2022 study found that office gossip is participated in by 96% of employees. 

  4. Being Afraid of the Manager - An issue that needs to be addressed immediately would be employees being afraid of their manager. The employees would avoid going into their office or corridor- the usual places where you would see your manager. The manager is usually the main source of why the work culture is toxic, due to their poor management.

  5. High Employee Turnover - Although when employees seek better opportunities this does not necessarily mean they are leaving because of something negative. It is simply because they have found a better opportunity that will benefit them. However, a high employee turnover is the clearest indication of a toxic work environment because when the workplace becomes a ‘walk-through office’ it indicates that there is something wrong with the work culture. 

What to do if your team is Toxic?

Prioritise Training - An organisation must prioritise training in a workspace, this can be done by creating an updated strategy. The strategy can reassure the employees that the managers are willing to make improvements and to become better in order to avoid the toxic work culture. Allowing employees to feel supported and managers to have a layout of improvements to make the work culture to be a safe environment for both parties to have personal growth in their productivity and confidence.


By assigning employees the ways they can support the workplace, it can ensure that everyone in the company has excellent teamwork and leadership. The training can give an understanding of the company's expectations and needs, allowing individuals to improve their performance and to put more effort into their work. 

  1. Culture - Gathering ideas with employees and the managers where both parties and teams can find ways to improve the company's culture, allowing the company to have positive growth. It is important for a leader to create a safe space for employees and to feel less isolated. Be inclusive and open to employees’ feelings and thoughts.

  2. Policy Training - Conflict, Harassment and Discrimination are the three main issues managers and employees could face in a workplace. The policy has been taught to managers and employees in their training and understanding the differences between these three key factors which can occur in a workspace can be pinpointed. Managers can help their employees if they have been affected by these issues. The issues would need to be dealt with sensibly and correctly, to ensure those affected are feeling safe in the workspace. 

  3. Not Contributing to Favoritism - The team should be noticed and valued for their work and not a selected few as every individual has contributed in their own way. It is important that even though some employees are star employees, there is importance for employees to feel valued for their work.

  4. Relieving Stress - Guiding the employees and suggesting ways they can relieve stress when they are outside work, which can allow them to have a release from the negativity from their workspace and disconnect themselves from it. This can build productivity and positivity, which can lead to room for improvement. 


Impact of Covid in a Toxic Workplace

A 2021 Shane Hastie study, conducted in 133 American companies, found that 29% of employees have said that team spirit and working relationships have suffered from working remotely, with 11% of employees are planning to leave because the company culture has become toxic. 


  1. Withdrawn from The Workplace - People become withdrawn from their workplace, creating a lack of communication between them, and preventing the workplace from progressing and improving. Managers need to prevent this; they need to take care of their employees' wellbeing and create a safe workspace. Communication is crucial as it gives reassurance between the manager and employee, making sure they are both confident to freely express themselves.

  2. Mental Health Breaks - During the pandemic, lots of employees suffered from a range of mental health problems and many managers do not understand why their employees would want to take time off due to their mental health. This causes conflict and anger between the manager and employee, making the employee not feel comfortable and safe at work.

  3. Feeling Safer at Home - By working in a comfortable and homely environment, it relieved the stress of some employees. Employees felt more positive and productive as they are away from the toxic culture. 

  4. Miscommunication - Leaders and employees miscommunicating with each other causes less productivity, so both parties must understand their tasks and roles. This prevents them from having a disagreement or arguments as miscommunication can cause anger and negativity, which allows employees to not perform to their full potential. 

In a nutshell, to prevent the workplace leading itself into the toxic culture spiral by: 

  1. Communicating and supporting employees mentally through employees pre-existing devices. 

  2. Regular contact with employees. Having contact with them every other day allows employees to open up about issues they are facing, allowing them to feel confident coming back to work. 

  3. Keeping the connection with employees strengthens the relationship with their manager. 

  4. Confidence in your leadership assures employees that the manager knows how to manage issues that may occur in a workplace.

  5. Team spirit can make the working environment more enthusiastic and positive, which also raises productivity. 




(Price, 2022) Price, D., 2022. 5 Signs of a Toxic Work Culture - Atlassian. [online] Work Life by Atlassian. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 February 2022]. 

Ainomugisha, G., 2022. 7 Concerning Signs of a Toxic Work Culture. [online] The 6Q Blog. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 February 2022]. 

Hastie, S., 2022. Remote Working Risks Increasing Toxic Cultures. [online] InfoQ. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 February 2022]. 

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