The Top Circumstances That Cause a Toxic Work Environment

In a toxic work environment, employees often struggle with productivity and motivation. Worse, a toxic work environment can cause a host of physical and emotional health problems, many of which can have substantial impact on your life outside of work. An average 1 in 5 Americans have left a job within the past five years due to a toxic workplace environment. Around 26% of American workers note that they dread going in to work every day.

Are you dealing with a toxic work environment, often as a result of poor management choices and an overall poor culture in your workplace? Take a look at these top 5 circumstances that can create a drain on your work and personal life.

1. Harassment and Discrimination

Any time your office environment marginalizes or targets minorities, from people of a specific gender to those of a specific race or religion, it can cause tension to ride high. Between 25% and 85% of American women have faced sexual harassment in the workplace, depending on the description of harassment. Women may be blocked for promotions, ignored for certain jobs or tasks, or have to deal with casual sexual harassment from their colleagues.

Minorities, especially people of color, also continue to face discrimination in many workplaces. Minorities may have a harder time securing a job at all in certain industries, or they may have a harder time getting promoted. They may also face direct harassment from racist team members.

Not only do harassment and discrimination cause problems for the targeted group, they can increase tension in other groups, as well. Savvy managers show zero tolerance for those behaviors to help maintain a better overall working environment.

2. Office Drama

Drama in the workplace can have a substantial impact. A single toxic employee, including one prone to gossip or causing problems, can cause decreases in productivity across the office environment. Half of employees decrease work effort or spend less time at work due to toxic hiring decisions. Others may take their frustrations out on customers, or simply lose track of time at work while worrying about the behavior of a toxic employee.

Office drama can stem from in-office romances, disputes between employees, or management team members who seem to have something against other members of the team. Ongoing office drama can lead to an overall unproductive office–not to mention one where employees simply do not feel safe.

3. Lack of Communication in the Office

In a solid office environment, employees know who they need to go to with problems–and they trust that problems will be taken care of quickly. Communication needs to go both ways in the office. Not only do managers need to communicate with employees to keep them informed of what is going on in the workplace, including policy changes and potential challenges, employees need to be able to communicate with their management team. They should not fear that they will be punished for a lack of understanding, but rather that they will receive support from their management team to fix any problems they may face.

Poor communication can quickly create toxicity in the workplace. Employees may talk to one another, rather than talking to and trusting their managers. This talking can quickly move to grumbling, complaining, or workplace drama, which may, in turn, increase the toxicity level in the office.

4. Lack of HR Support

A company’s HR department can go a long way toward creating the support that employees need in order to succeed. HR is a critical investment for most employers. HR should take care of employee training, including providing employees with both the resources they need to excel at their chosen professions and the resources they need to help avoid a toxic work environment.

An effective HR team will also address any toxic situations as quickly and effectively as possible. Sometimes, HR may ignore problems until they become much more serious, causing resentment to grow and employees to struggle in their work environments. If those situations are allowed to continue, it can prove much more difficult to reverse the damage. On the other hand, if HR steps in early and proactively addresses any potential challenges, it can often create a safer, more secure working environment for everyone involved.

5. High Employee Turnover

High employee turnover is one quick sign of a toxic work environment, since a toxic environment can cause employees to quickly leave in an effort to escape their current situations. Equally, however, high levels of employee turnover can lead to a toxic work environment, especially if the management team has unrealistic expectations of the remaining employees.

When employees leave, the management team must quickly find new hires to take their place. This leads to several key problems. First, in the meantime, the remaining team members must take on that additional workload. This may mean increased hours or more tasks to take care of during the work day. At its worst, this can increase the risk of employee burnout.

In order to alleviate that strain, many managers will try to rush the hiring process. Unfortunately, this raises the risk of hiring toxic team members. In some cases, employers may hire team members who simply do not have the skills necessary to complete a particular job.

Finally, new team members may require substantial training before they can meet the standards expected by the employer. In the meantime, the remaining employees may need to pick up the slack and take care of any tasks that the new hires cannot do, further increasing the strain on existing employees. It can also take time for employees to truly mesh with one another in a new environment, which can further increase workplace stress.

Minor periods of workplace difficulty can increase employee stress substantially. Working in a toxic environment, on the other hand, can cause immense challenges for employees, including steadily decreasing mental and physical health. If you have encountered problems stemming from a toxic work environment, contact us today to learn more about your legal rights.