Libby McCaughey
about 1 year ago by Libby McCaughey

How to address a toxic work environment

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​Last week craft brewer, BrewDog, faced well-publicised claims about its workplace culture and attitude towards its staff members after a letter, which was initially posted with 60 ex-staff member signatories – a number that has now grown to more than 250 per the BBC – levelled stinging allegations against BrewDog and Mr Watt personally.

“Being treated like a human being was sadly not always a given for those working at BrewDog.” The signatories said.

Signatories went on to state that a “significant number” of former staffers had “suffered mental illness as a result of working at BrewDog”. Co-founder and CEO, James Watt, responded to the claims in an interview with the BBC, vowing to become a better employer as a result of the backlash.

To see people united in finding their voice and making a stand on what is and isn’t acceptable treatment of employees sets a strict standard that a toxic workplace will no longer be tolerated.

A recently released survey revealed that toxic behaviour, distrust, and resentment are prevalent in today’s workplace, as egregious conduct like harassment, discrimination, and bullying.

Alarmingly many employees indicated that their organisation are not taking steps to make changes: 53% say that they do not address toxicity issues, 48% say they do not allocate funding to promote a healthy workplace, and 40% say they will not increase their emphasis on addressing toxicity in the coming years.  

Elizabeth Owens Bille, Head of Impact, Workplace Culture, EVERFI said, “Toxic cultures and harassment can lead to turnover, absenteeism, lost productivity, inability to recruit top talent, and the like, so the stakes are high for organizations to act to prevent these damaging behaviours from happening in their workplace. 

The big learning curve for companies is to finally listen to the truth of ‘people before profit’. People are a company’s biggest asset and sometimes the only point of difference. The ‘war for great talent’ is also only going to increase with the pace of change we are experiencing and the evolution in how we work. 

The research found that organizational leaders are not proactively supporting positive cultures and may lack several critical skills in this area. Only 38% agreed that leaders take proactive steps to create a positive workplace culture, and far fewer agree that their leaders are good at preventing problems before they begin (20%) 

“Organisations should invest in upskilling managers and holding them accountable for their actions. Providing skills training in conflict management, critical conversations, coaching, and bystander intervention techniques is critical.” said Elizabeth.

If companies want to create a positive culture, they need to hear when things happen (or are likely to happen) that undermine that effort. The very act of communicating a genuine, leadership-driven desire to know sends a strong message that harmful behaviours will not be tolerated and that the company is committed to creating a positive culture.

Now is the time to invest in your employees, make them feel valued and championed, and offer them a way of working that suits their lifestyle. Get to know your employees personally; only once you understand what makes a person tick, can you then enable them to work to their full potential.