How do you actually prevent a toxic workplace?

Research from human resource studies show that 1 in 5 Americans have left a job in the last five years due to toxic work culture or a hostile work environment. In short, a toxic workplace culture is characterized by hostility, gossip, drama, and belittling behavior. It's no wonder how this breeds dysfunction and inefficiency. In light of The Great Resignation, it's important to understand the impact of these toxic workplace behaviors on company culture and bottom line. 

SHRM conducted research to find out what causes a toxic workplace culture. The study illustrated that the main source of job dissatisfaction is not pay or benefits—it's the relationship between employee and supervisor. When relationships suffer, morale and productivity suffer. In turn, recruiting and onboarding costs rise. Ultimately, all of this has a negative impact on the bottom line.  

Still unsure if your company has a toxic work environment? Here are three critical signs you need to look for. 

Not giving credit. People want to be understood and appreciated, especially by their supervisors. A person that feels unappreciated will feel left out at work, and this leads to poor performance and turnover. What are you doing to make sure you give credit where it's due? And are you doing it enough? 

Meaningless work. We all want to know that the time we invest in our work makes a difference somewhere. How do you help employees see their impact? 

No measure of success. If you don't have a clear goal or a tangible way of assessing success or failure, it is difficult to know whether you are doing a good job. Eventually, motivation declines when people feel powerless to control their own destiny. Are you giving your team clear goals with milestones to track? 


It is one thing to learn what creates a toxic workplace culture but it is another to overcome it. 

Studies point to a common denominator in toxic office environments: managers who lack soft skills in active listening, communicating with empathy, and leading diverse teams. These same studies suggest that learning how to apply EQ skills would help employees “create psychologically safe teams and work environments that can lead to more inclusive workplaces.” Applied EQ, also known as emotional intelligence, is the antidote to workplace toxicity. Plus, higher emotional intelligence also leads to more inclusive leadership which is where businesses truly begin to flourish. 

This is such a critical powerskill, yet, we often see this skill left out of management training, resulting in inefficient or underperforming corporate training initiatives. 

According to psychologist, Dr Mitchel Adler, emotional intelligence is “the ability to make healthy choices based on accurately identifying, understanding, and managing your own feelings and those of others.” Low emotional intelligence leads to: 

  • Negative Emotions - People with low emotional intelligence are controlled by emotions such as anger, worry, guilt, shame, disappointment, and frustration.  

  • Behavioral Issues - People with low EQ are not able to keep these negative emotions in check, which results in outbursts and rash decision making. 

  • Ineffective Communication - People with low emotional intelligence are closed off and unable to take feedback well, this leads to a breakdown of communication in the workplace. Additionally, they struggle to even convey their own needs, which leads to a lot of misunderstandings. 
  • Poor Performance - These individuals are poor contributors to a team and contribute to an unhealthy dynamic within that team, which affects performance as a whole. 

With distributed and remote teams, human resources professionals are finding it difficult to teach soft skills that enable a positive work environment. That’s why we are launching a brand-new course, Applied EQ, to help fast-growing businesses get ahead of the curve. In this course, learners explore the five core competencies of emotional intelligence: 

  • Know your emotions 
  • Manage your emotions 
  • Motivate yourself
  • Recognize and understand other people's emotions, and 
  • Managing relationships and others’ emotions, 

that fall under four dimensions of EQ that cover:  

  • Self-Awareness 
  • Self-Management 
  • Social Awareness, and  
  • Relationship Management. 

It’s time to take a hard look at your own company's culture and see if you have some room for improvement. Going from a toxic workplace to a healthy environment can improve employee morale, retention, and boost your company’s reputation.  


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