70% of people say they wouldn’t work for an industry leader if they felt the environment was toxic. 77% say they would leave. Millennials say they would take an average $7,600 pay cut if it meant moving into a healthier work environment. And studies show that a toxic work environment can cut productivity by as much as 20%.

What’s a toxic work environment costing us as companies? Increased turnover? Trouble hiring? More sick days? Lost sales and customers?

There are some clear signs to recognize a toxic environment. Let’s also look at solutions we can start applying today to develop a healthier, more empathic workplace.

People Complain About the Workload

This includes everyone from front-line employees and management. If managers are complaining, then you can be sure the employees are also.

If the complaining has become normalized and accepted, we have a major challenge on our hands. Management and some employees may be desensitized to it. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take its toll.

People Don’t Feel They Can Approach the Manager

Is the manager’s leadership style completely top down? Or does the manager have a handful of favorites they listen to while the ideas of others hit a brick wall? This is another sign of a toxic work environment.

Our employees feel unappreciated and often helpless to resolve problems within this toxic system.

People Are Afraid to Break the Rules

Are people terrified to break rules because they’ll get in trouble? Rules and systems are important in any workplace. But rigid rules harm morale and make people feel like robots. They demonstrate a lack of trust that you’ve hired the right people for the job.

Rigid rules stifle creativity. When a smart person must turn off their intuition about the right thing to do in order to follow a rule, bad things will follow.

How to Eliminate a Toxic Work Environment

If these common signs of a toxic work environment plague your organization, it’s important to look at it from every angle.  You should examine inefficiencies and under-staffing, however these are often not the root problem.

If you recognize these issues in your business, you need to examine whether your organization and leadership have fostered an empathetic workplace. In an empathic workplace people connect and work together. Individuals feel understood and appreciated.

Building a more empathic work environments starts at the top, getting buy-in from everyone from C-suite and level 1 supervisors.

You can start by taking some basic steps:

  1. Take an anonymous before survey. It helps to know your baseline before making changes.
  2. Invest in training for leadership. Harvard study found that only 7% of companiesbelieve that they effectively developing their leaders. While 94% of companies say that their development programs strongly impact their financial success.
  3. Foster a more empathic workplace among leaders. This includes developing and applying skills like empathy, authenticity and trust-building. A RAND study foundthat this supportive leadership alone can cut workplace toxicity in half.
  4. Practice seeing things through the eyes of others.If suggestions make them feel defensive, they should listen to these feelings but recognize that defensiveness usually has little to do with the other person. It’s often ego getting the way of authentic listening.
  5. Encourage all employees to bring solutions to the table.That includes management to C-suite. Foster a productive dialogue about what’s not working and how we can fix it to replace simply stating what’s wrong.
  6. Empower employees to think about challenges as opportunitiesto improve their jobs, the work environment and the company.
  7. Follow-through with implementing changes and monitor progress.

To learn more about cultivating an empathic workplace, contact us.