One objective all HR managers share is having a harmonious workplace.

Toxic employees can have disastrous influences amongst the workforce, derailing workplace wellness and stress management initiatives overnight.

But their negative impact doesn’t end there.

In a recent study of over 63,000 workers, it was revealed that employees are 54% more likely to quit when they work with a toxic employee. What’s more, the average cost of hiring a toxic employee stood at £10,500 as opposed to a sum of £3,300 for a non-toxic employee.

But what constitutes a toxic workplace, and how can you spot the signs?

What is a Toxic Workplace?

The term toxic workplace is best described as a situation whereby personal battles harm productivity, the employees themselves, and negatively impacts the viability of an organisation. 

These types of environments are often created by either employers or employees that are motivated by personal gain. They use unethical and sometimes illegal methods to manipulate and irritate those around them, creating a workplace where productivity and employee wellbeing fall well below optimal requirements.

What Are the Effects of a Toxic Workplace Within a Business?

These environments are often marked by all-time high levels of gossip as workers congregate in private areas to negatively discuss management or colleagues. Sometimes this elevates to spreading false rumours about co-workers they dislike.

Employee sickness rates, leavism and absenteeism also tend to skyrocket in toxic workplaces. Stress and other mental sickness symptoms are commonplace amongst staff members caught in a toxic working environment.

Staff morale also drops to a low ebb, usually as a result of a fear-based management culture. This leads to costly mistakes or dangerously low levels of productivity which could jeopardise the future of a firm.

One British consumer goods company valued the cost of having a toxic workplace at, “£600,000 a year in mistakes and days off”. So what can companies, and in particular, HR departments do to avoid creating a negative working atmosphere?

How to Avoid Creating a Toxic Workplace

In most cases toxicity stems from management who are under pressure themselves to deliver results.

It’s important to train managers in first-rate communication skills, as well as to create processes that allow regular open and honest feedback between themselves and employees.

Discourage managers from treating employees differently based on how well they get on with them and encourage a culture of team sharing where the big wins and losses are a shared burden.

Finally, by far the biggest attribute required of harmonious workplaces is giving employees the recognition they deserve.

A global study of nearly 200,000 employees revealed that 79% of them left their job citing “lack of appreciation” as their reason for leaving.

Another similar study reported that recognition was the number one item that employees said their manager could give them to inspire them to produce good work. Remarkably, they listed it above receiving a pay increase, increased autonomy, and access to professional training.

Once an employee feels underappreciated through lack of recognition, their morale starts to drop, their productivity follows suit, and they are more likely to engage in negative behaviours such as rumour spreading and gossiping.

Be Pre-emptive in your Approach to a Toxic Workplace

By instigating reform of both management and employee practices you may be able to preserve a harmonious working environment which is good for employee wellbeing, productivity, and morale.

Here at DocHQ we can help to prevent your workplace from descending into toxicity by providing employee engagement programmes, workplace wellness support, and a range of tools for measuring the health of your employees.

If you would like to include any of those services as part of your employee benefits package, then don’t be afraid to schedule a video call with a member of our team to discuss your requirements today.  

DocHQ Ltd is a Health Tech company improving choices. We help you connect efficiently to health support and advice whether you are at home, work or travelling. See our website for our services or call us on 0330 088 0645.